Thursday, June 7, 2012

Scope Creep Example

This assignment was particularly difficult for me since I have no experience with project management that relates. So, instead I interviewed a friend who has worked in project management a great deal.
Prior to her current role, Elisia worked as an internal auditor for General Electric (she was employed by GE to audit GE). As an auditor, she would be assigned, with a team, to one of the GE businesses and spend four months on site working on a project. On multiple assignments Elisia experienced the hairy monster professionally referred to as scope creep.  One specific example that stands out was when she was on a corporate HQ assignment. The project was related to the roll-out of a newly updated financial accounting standard for variable interest entities (VIE). The original scope of the project was to develop and disseminate companywide training on the technical changes and implications of the new accounting standard. However, as the project progressed the scope creep monster reared its ugly head. By the end of the four months, the project had increased to include a second key deliverable – to determine the entire population of VIEs that would be affected by this new standard.
Looking back, Elisia realizes that the second deliverable was equally, if not more, work intensive than the first. The scope creep was more like a scope jump. Thinking about how this could have happened, Elisia realizes now that there were two key factors working against her audit team. First, when the clients were conceptualizing and determining project scope, they themselves were unsure of what it should be. Therefore when the projects original scope was presented to the team, it was, to some degree, only a half-baked idea at that point. Second, is the fact that they were internal auditors. In this particular audit, the clients were extremely powerful within GE and had the network and influence to control our project. Said another way, there was not a clear line and definition of roles and responsibilities between the team and the client. This “blur” carried over to all aspects of the project, including work scope.
Though the team eventually was able to meet both deliverables of the project, it took a lot of extra time, work and resources to complete. Additionally, the relationship between all the key stakeholders (audit team, direct clients and indirect clients), was constantly strained. The issues that this project faced were largely driven by scope creep. What Elisia took away from this experience, is the knowledge that once you realize scope creep is occurring, it’s already too late to stop. Scope creep is something that must be proactively prevented. The project team must make clear to the client that scope creep also has a detrimental effect on them – the client could be spending more money, deadlines might not be met, and they might not have the most appropriately resourced project team. Additionally, the project team needs to be involved as early in the planning phases as their client will allow - the project team and clients must work together define the project scope in writing and in detail, being sure to outline what is included, what is not included the key deliverables and the project timeline.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Estimating Costs in ID Projects

With experiece comes knowledge. It is difficult to know how long something will take if you've never done it before. The following article gives some pointers as to how to estiamte the cost or time frame of a project. There are three main parts of a plan; effort, duration, and cost. The article focuses on internal and external labor costs and duration, and non-labor costs.

The following website has internal links explaining activity duration, activity resource estimating process, parametric estimating, cost estimating and analogous estimating:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Communicating Effectively

We communicate in many different ways due to technology. Often, the interpretation of a message changes based on what you are using to deliver it. For example, when we send a message via text, it might be read differently than if it were through voice. Talking on the phone is different than face to-face. And, even in video conferencing, or Skype, you can't always get the full effect of the message like you can when you are in the same room as someone. So, since we can't always go up to someone face to-face every time we want to send a message, we must try to communicate as effectively as we can through text and/or voice.
When we use our voice, we can add tone to the message, which helps. When I critiqued the link showing three different ways to send a message, I noticed the tone was rather harsh or demanding in the email. If that was the message the woman wanted to send, then it was effective. In all three examples, she seemed to be very serious. However, the tone does change from email to voice and from voice to in person. When simply reading a message, you lose the personal touch that is natural when speaking face to face. Also, when you are face to face, there can be dialogue. You can ask a question and get an immediate answer. If I were the woman in this example, I would change the way I approached the issue for each scenario. In an email and a voicemail, you have to say everything at once and then wait for a response. In person, you can greet the person, he greets you back, you can ask a question and get an immediate response. For some people, that is easier, for others it is hard. Some people would rather have the impersonal scenario so they can get their point across without being interrupted or lose their focus in the conversation.
The form of communication was most effective in the voicemail. The email seemed harsh and the face to face "conversation" was one sided. The woman simply stated what she would have in an email. She probably wouldn't get an answer right away. She didn't even ask a question and wait for a response. The voicemail made it clear she needs the information and to please let her know. In other words, call her back or send the report right now. The voicemail also had a good tone.
Dr. Stolovitch explains how communicating with project members is best done with all members present. A face to-face meeting is probably best, but video conferencing or on the telephone can be very effective as well.

Stolovitch, H. (2012) Communicating with Stakeholders. Laureate Education, Inc.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mural Project: Post-Mortem Analysis

When painting a mural for someone, it is usually a simple transaction with few people involved. However, in the following instance, communication was lacking and the project was not a success. I was commissioned to paint a mural on an outside wall of the Japanese restaurant. The owner, however, speaks Korean only, so I was communicating with the manager who spoke Korean and English. Not only was there a language barrier, but the cultural barrier was unpredictable since I had not worked with Korean people in a business sense. Things that are a given or assumed, or just ways of thinking are so different, that nothing was ever agreed upon. Have a middle man was not helpful either. I would consider myself the project manager with one other person working with me on the mural. However, the manager was involved in decision making as well as the owner and his wife. When it was all said and done, the wife was the real decision maker, who I never spoke to. So, no effective communication was happening. As the project manager, I needed to make ALL agreements clear on paper. Writing a statement of work would have been helpful instead of just writing up a proposal and a bill. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Converting to a Blended Learning Environment

The Scenario: 
A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.

Summary of Action Plan:

Creating an online course or converting a face-to-face training to a blended course takes much pre-planning. The trainer needs to take into consideration many aspects of distance learning, such as, software. Dr. Piskurich explains the role of the online instructor as being incredibly important. In this case, the trainer is the designer of the course, and the facilitator. The trainer must be able to understand the software being used and be able to keep up with all the activities he or she is having the students do. He or she must plan and be familiar with the whole lesson plan before starting the course. 

What are some of the pre-planning strategies the trainer needs to consider before converting his program?
1. Software familiarity
2. Learner characteristics

What aspects of his original training program could be enhanced in the distance learning format?
1. Discussion forums
2. Instructional activities involving technology
3. More choices for students 
4. More ways to assess student learning

How will his role, as trainer, change in a distance learning environment?
1. Update all materials to an online server
2. Become an online facilitator

What steps should the trainer take to encourage the trainees to communicate online?
1. Give statistics of blended learning success
2. Prepare a presentation and orientation before starting the online portion
3. Show how easy it is to access information for the course
4. Give the option of signing in online instead of in person at times


Piskurich, G. (2012) "Facilitating Online Learning" Laureate Education, Inc.

     Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., Zvacek, S. (2012) Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education, Fifth Edition Pearson Education, Inc. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Free Online Course Analysis: Open Culture

Open Culture is a site where you can choose out of four hundred twenty-five free online courses from top universities. They are mostly formatted as video lectures on YouTube Vimeo, or iTunes. The site also includes audio books, movies, language lessons, eBooks and cultural icons. The site is funded and supported by advertisements and suggested links.
Open Culture seems to be carefully pre-planned with easy-to-navigate web pages. It is set up successfully for a distance-learning environment by having all material accessible on the Internet. Most of the classes are simply video lectures, so they do not follow all the recommendations for online instruction from the course text. Page two hundred forty three lists everything that should be included in a syllabus: course logistics, course policies, instructional activities, assessment information, and additional information. The course text explains recommendations for courses that require credit or a grade.
The course I chose to navigate is Introduction to Visual Thinking. It does not have course activities, but simply lectures with different images, presenters, and videos within the eleven video lectures. The main presenter is speaking to a face to-face class, and is recorded for the distance learners. Since it is a free course, it seems like it is set up to help students gain more information possibly for another course, or just for fun. The course online is not set up with a syllabus, course activities, or assessment.
On page one hundred seventy three, the course text outlines Foley’s general principles of good design. In Open Culture, the target audience seems to be well known. Anyone who wants more information on visual thinking in general or someone who is looking for an idea for art making would benefit from this course. Foley also expresses the need for the content of subject matter to be delivered. This course could have more of a specific summary of its parts. It only has a title to let learners know what might be included in the course. If students are choosing the course for fun or to gain information for something else, they need more information before beginning the course.


Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., Zvacek, S. (2012) Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education, Fifth Edition. Pearson Education, Inc.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

The following text explains a real world example of the need for distance education and my reasoning for selecting certain technologies to accomplish the goal of the scenario:

Collaborative Training Environment A new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. Unfortunately, the staff is located throughout all the different offices and cannot meet at the same time or in the same location. As an instructional designer for the corporation, you have been charged with implementing a training workshop for these offices. As part of the training, you were advised how imperative it is that the staff members share information, in the form of screen captures and documents, and participate in ongoing collaboration.

Blackboard can be useful in the above scenario by using the onsite training solution.
Rcampus is another program that would work well in the above situation. In Rcampus, students can create a
clubs, faculty groups, private groups and study groups. So, the employees in the training can share information, screen captures, and have discussions within the website/program.

"Sales training often involves an annual meeting where a company flies in its reps at launch time to train them together on location. Sound familiar?
Move beyond sales training of the past towards an engaging continuous and blended online learning program with the Blackboard Learn™ platform. With Blackboard Learn, you can create thorough and rigorous training that begins long before your reps arrive on-site, and doesn’t end until well after they return to the field" (
The following video shows a real life example of how Blackboard can be used anywhere on a mobile device for students to access information and network with others: