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.

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.



2 thoughts on “Ever have a project go wrong?

  1. I understand the teacher’s point of view. It is a hassle checking multiple email accounts and there is a chance something may be missed with this process. However, personal email accounts should not be used for business especially for a school. I do not think students and parents should have access to a teacher’s personal information. I say this as a teacher and as a parent. The school district should have one email account for the teacher to use so that all information is in the same place. My school also uses Gmail and it works out very well. The school also uses the calendar feature to keep everyone updated on meetings. We also have a student information system for taking attendance and entering grades / lesson plans. Teachers resist this type of tech at first because they don’t want to have to learn something new and adjust their procedures to accommodate it. Showing teachers how easy the program is to use and how it can make with paperwork easier to complete will help with buy-in. Allowing for a transition period were teachers who are comfortable with the program begin using it while others are still learning may help to get teachers curious about it. There will always be those few people who will resist to the bitter end and complain until the next program comes out.

  2. The SOW definitely is a very important document needed to begin a project. My former work with managing projects lacked the written documentation necessary for minimizing “scope creep”. Without it, we have no clear parameters and a high level of ambiguity with the objectives and scope of the project.

    I’ve also found that email addresses have evolved to become very personal. Requiring changes to email addresses as a condition of employment could probably cause a revolt among the ranks.
    Its seems that stakeholders at the highest administrative levels for this school district were not communicating on employee email addresses. Its interesting how political dimensions of an organization can help generate misunderstandings and misdirection.

    Ruben Ramos

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