Ever have a project go wrong?

WebmailAs the school’s webmaster (website maintainer), I get asked to upload pictures, pdf files, notes, minutes, updates, and to create templates and forms for others to use. About five years ago, I was asked to create a way for parents to get in touch with teachers directly. Since I was in charge of the school domain name and the company hosting the website offered unlimited email addresses, I went ahead and developed 140 email addresses. Each email address consisted of a unique password and was composed of the first initial and last name of each teacher. I was assuming a quick acceptance of the work I had done. The teachers complained of having to check another email address on top of what they normally use. Problem #1: I did not have a Statement of Work (SOW) and a Project Scope signed off to establish what the end product would look like. Because of this, scope creep kicked in.

Scope creep is the tendency to improve the project’s output as the project progresses, but could alter the time spent on the project, the budgeted cost of the project, and the quality of the project (Portny et al., 2008). A change of scope is not uncommon and it is not necessarily a problem (Greer, 2010). In fact, scope changes can be beneficial when they allow the project to be under budget or allows for a quicker completion of the project. In this case, however, the project had numerous extensions and is still considered incomplete.

About four years ago, the administration wanted me send out leadership minutes only through the email list I had formed. This was meant to create buy-in. Many teachers refused to use the new system. Problem #2: no buy-in from the users. A year after, the school administration listened to what the teachers wanted and let the teachers use their personal email addresses. Of course, there were a few teachers who did not want to share their personal email addresses with the parents.

Roughly two years ago, we were faced with problem #3: the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) insisted that all school personnel (administration, teachers, and other employees) use their school district email addresses and not the school email address nor their personal email address. So much for the school email addresses that were formed! There may be times when not accounting for all the stakeholders could cause unnecessary delays and negatively impact the project (Portny et al., 2008). There should be some focus on identifying the types of people in an organization who could be the cause to re-work or otherwise negatively impact the project. The school district was a major stakeholder that had not been considered.

GDOE is still trying to muster a complete buy-in by incorporating the email signing process with an online grading system. When teachers take attendance or post a grade, they will automatically be shown their email box. Currently, the email logging in process is being handled through Gmail but with the district domain name.

Resources
Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/courses/59896/CRS-CW-5089754/EDUC_6145_readings/PM-Minimalist-Ver-3-Laureate.pdf
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.