Analyzing Scope Creep

I am going to write a story about a project at home that started simple enough but grew into a very large project. My wife and I decided that I would build a swing set for our daughters. Having never done one before, I assumed that my costs would include the costs of the swing set and some mulch to throw underneath. I also assumed I could recruit one friend and do it in a day. Everything sounded simple enough during the Conceive phase (Portny et al, 2008.)

Problems started during the Define phase. While researching all of the project tasks, it was discovered that our backyard was not level enough to set down a swing set. This would add several weekends of landscaping tasks to the project. We also learned that from various safety recommendations that a handful of trees were too close to the project area. This would add extra cost and an extra weekend of delay while the tree crew did their work. Looking back, my wife and I wish we did more research before we promised a swing set to our daughters. The stakeholders (my daughters) were not very patient about the delays.

The Start and Perform phases went well. It was difficult to do the landscaping but I prepared the site without too much difficulty. The tree crew did a wonderful job with tree removal and stump grinding. Finally, the “contractor” (one of my best friends) and I were able to assemble the swing set in one morning within budget (I owed him lunch).

The Close phase brought one more change of scope. We decided to upgrade the mulch to recycled rubber mulch. It is cleaner, safer, and helps the environment. This raised the year one costs because this is more expensive than wooden mulch, but is expected to save us money in the long run because we will not need to replace it every year. It also delayed the finish of the project because we had to find a vendor who sold the material in our area.

In the end, my daughters were very happy and love their swing set. The cost was higher than we anticipated and it took several extra weekends due to the yard work, but it has been worth it watching them play in the yard.


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 Responses to “Analyzing Scope Creep”

  1. Bessie Walker Says:

    Hi Joseph,

    It appeared at first that your project was more than you could handle. Fortunately, you were able to overcome the obstacles you faced and your children were able to have and enjoy a beautiful swing set in the backyard. Also, it is always good to have good friends who are helpful and skillful in performing certain task. I think you owe your friends more than one lunch. Nevertheless, I can see how scope creep occurred in this project. Sometimes performing a task seems so simple, but once we attack it we find out about the unexpected problems that were unforeseen.

    Bessie Walker

  2. wmorrisblog Says:

    Hi Joseph,
    I really like your real world experience of project scope creep. As we have learned throughout this course, any project, rather large or small, must be managed. When boundaries are not established in the initial project plan such as time and resources, you will definitely experience scope creep. Who would have thought that installing a swing set requires project management? Costs such as pick-up and delivery of the swing set, landscaping, tree cutting, and specialty items are very costly. In your case, it would have been hard to tell the girls (Client), “no way, this is not going to happen.” Avoiding scope creep is not possible (Portny,2008). As you have learned, monitoring and controlling it will reduce some of the pain.
    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.

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