Case Study #1: The Case of the Never Ending Scope Creep
In 1999, the XY Department of the Federal Government reviewed its Year 2000 Date Turnover Computer Risks and found that its outdated computer systems for managing public clients needed replacing. A business case was prepared for funding the replacement while at the same time implementing some improvements. The total budget requested was $2.3 million.
In view of a shortage of funds around at the time, government did not approve this amount. Only $1.5 million was authorized. However, the XY Department accepted this amount after they decided that they could maybe do the work for around the $1.5 m.
Accordingly, a project was scoped and planned, with specific milestones for implementing the hardware and, subsequently the software, across 87 sites within its jurisdiction. A final completion date of 30th June 2001 was projected. The original business case had loosely identified some risks to the project that were also included in the project plan. A project steering committee was established, with the department chief (CEO) as the sponsor, and representation by influential managers with differing outcome needs to suit their particular work environment. The project commenced in July 1999.
In view of the shortfall on its original budget request, the committee decided not to employ a project manager. Instead it assigned this responsibility to its Finance Manager, who would undertake the work along with his normal duties.
A Company, called "Good Programs" was contracted to supply the software and assist in the implementation. This company recognized the marketing opportunities of this project, as the XY Department was its biggest client in the region. As a result, they offered, free of charge, many more features that were not in the original scope, provided the department allowed them to be, in essence a research and development (R&D) site. This would assist Good Programs to more readily sell their products elsewhere around the world, while providing the XY Department with additional functionality and benefits.
Initially, the steering committee met regularly, but as new versions of the resulting software were being implemented regularly, meetings became less frequent and Good Programs were left to do more and more of the day to day management of the new version implementations.
These new versions were developed after consultation with the various individual managers to accommodate requested new features with little consultation amongst all of the managers. All the XY Department and steering committee had to do was to identify problems with the software and to make the system testers available for new versions. However, the effect was an unanticipated overhead for the department.
Sometime after the original project was scoped and commenced, both the original CEO and finance manager had been moved out of the department and new officers have been appointed.
At this time, the new CEO has been advised that about $185,000 more is needed for the project, which is not in his current budget. The original project has not been signed off, indeed, it is evident that it has not been completed. The new CEO of the department is not sure of the original scope of the project, what aspects have been implemented, nor what has been spent for which parts. There do not seem to be any reliable reports available as to original scope, scope changes, schedule or budget.
The CEO is concerned that the project has become more of a career than a project, with version 16.5 of the client management system now being tested with yet more features. In addition, there are some past software problems that are still outstanding. Nevertheless, Good Systems have promised that problems will be fixed in the next version ... .