Thursday, May 19, 2016

The 5 (That's Right, 5) Creeps

Project Managers talk about the Triple Constraints, Three Legged Stool, Iron Triangle of Scope, Budget, and Schedule.
The Iron Triangle

Created by Erin Morey for

For the unfamiliar, according to the Project Management Institute:

Scope: The Work that needs to be accomplished to deliver a product, service, or result with the specified features and functions 

Budget:The approved estimate for the project or any work breakdown structure component or any schedule activity.

Schedule (not defined in PMBOK 4th Edition): A model reflecting the timeline for execution of the project.

Each of these has a factor which adds a specific word: "Creep." When Creep happens, it impacts the overall project and most likely falls into one of three categories.

Scope Creep: Sometimes identified as Feature Creep or Gold Platting is the addition of unapproved new requirements to the already defined and approved scope. Just because the changes are documented doesn't mean

Budget Creep:  Items cost more than originally budgeted, or more money is spent on higher quality items than required; and these items are not approved by the management of the project. Budgets get blown on a regular basis.

Schedule Creep: Tasks take longer than originally planned, pushing out the schedule and impacting the final completion date. Again, the deadlines are missed, but the impacts are not identified or approved by project management.

These are typically deadly to a project when not properly managed. However there are two more Creeps not typically discussed yet just as deadly. These Creeps sneak up on the management team, and can dramatically impact the original three Creeps. These Creeps are:

Dream Creep: Related to status reports, this is typically represented as a % Complete that is only true in the providers dreams. However if the leadership of the project doesn't have strong awareness, this is taken at face value and can suddenly manifest itself in the other Creeps. Another way that this manifests is when progress is going really quickly for the first 2/3rds of a project, and then suddenly slows to a crawl.

Hope Creep: Typically appears hand-in-hand with Dream Creep. This is where the team hopes to maintain the deadlines or budget, rather than report the changes. Items are missed, fall behind, or underestimated, but the leadership team is unaware, because there is still hope of a recovery.

Which means we need to revise the Iron Triangle. How about this:

Created by Erin Morey for

What should we call it? The Steel Pentagon? The 5 Creeps? I'm open to suggestions, comment below to let me know!

Back to Hopes and Dreams. The Hopes and Dreams of the project team, while being their own Creeps, will also dramatically impact the three recognized Creeps of Project Management.

How do you fight the Creeps? The initial starting point is awareness of the Creeps. Awareness means that you can at least be on the look out for it.

Another solution for immediate implementation: % Complete Rules. What I mean by that, is that a specific % complete can only be claimed when something tangible is done. An example:

1. 10% of the task can be claimed for starting the associated documentation
2. 50% can be claimed when the documentation is under peer review
3. 75% can be claimed when the documentation has been submitted to the client for the first time
4. 100% can be claimed only when the document is approved by the client without changes.

This would need to be defined by task type, and may not be as easy as what I identified above, especially if working in an Agile environment. In those cases, because of the daily stand-ups and the consistent level of involvement, misleading Hopes and Dreams may be less prevalent.

The true solution in either case is strong Change Management. Unfortunately, that is a lot more complicated topic than the 5 Creeps. I have a program for Change Management which includes The 5 Creeps, a workbook, templates to get you started, and an audio of my workshop titled The Game of Change: Without Change Management It All Comes Tumbling Down. As we are looking at a website revamp, send me an email if you would like to know more, or look for it in my store once the revamp happens!

Thanks for reading, and don't forget your suggestions for the new icon. I look forward to your input!

No comments:

Post a Comment