GPC Help Desk Project and Managing Scope

With any project a business undertakes, setting goals and boundaries for that project is crucial. Being a part of the GPC Help Desk project has been a hands-on experience dealing with scope creep for me. Not only does the team have to sync their activities with what the client (in this case, the Automotive Parts Group) expects, but they have to come to an agreement with each other on what needs to be done. This inevitably leads to the butting of heads, but as long as everyone remains civil, is ultimately very constructive.

In the case of our GPC project, we were assigned to deliver a “detailed requirements document” to implement a new help desk solution. This may seem pretty cut and dry at first glance to those unexperienced with such projects, but it quickly became a game of cat and mouse. What exactly are they expecting from us – a pure requirements replication of their current system, or a list of possible improvements to go along with it? Do they want us to design the solution or implement it? How far should the team push itself within the time span of a semester?

The trick is to pull yourself, and your teammates, back to square one and use some good, old-fashioned common sense. This, along with hashing things out with the client, is the only way to avoid scope creep. In addition to these judgment calls which differ from situation to situation, a good rule of thumb is to under-promise, and over-deliver. We aim to “WOW!” our client by making suggestions on how they can improve their business. They may only want us to provide a blueprint for a design team to implement; but, if we look ahead while accomplishing that goal, there is a lot more value to be added than they would expect.

Written by: Byron Barnes, Capstone student

The University of Alabama MIS program allows students to work on real projects that provide real value to real companies. Students learn to leverage people, processes and technology to solve problems and meet the challenges of today’s businesses head-on. For more information, call 205-348-5525 or visit http://cba.ua.edu/mis.

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