Saturday, December 8, 2012

Analyzing Scope Creep

My company was hired as part of a contract bid to conduct an audit and network security assessment of a federal agency, which was part of an audit of federal agencies at multiple sites across the U.S.  The project was initiated by the headquarters for this particular agency (at Washington DC), but the work was to be conducted at a number of local sites in Hawaii.  My role was Project Technical Lead as well as the Lead Security Control Assessor for federal government sites in Hawaii. 

What specific scope creep issues occurred?

During the initial kick-off meeting to discuss the audit of the network, the local client stated that they were aware they had not implemented a number of the required controls for their network and asked to make a change to the scope in order to help them better understand the mandated federal security control requirements for their network.  In the project charter, the exclusion statement specifically stated that controls identified as “Not Implemented, but planned”  would be considered as “Not Satisfied”  and would be validated, but not assessed.  The client asked if we asked if we could take the time to assess the controls to provide the client with feedback on how to implement the control.   Wanting to assist the client (and gain favor for future projects), we agreed to this change.

How did you or other stakeholders deal with those issues at the time?

As noted by Greer (2010), the project team followed some of the steps for dealing with project scope changes, but not all.  Our project team did the following:

1.       Made note of the specific change and discussed it among the team

2.       Notified the government sponsor of the change.  The sponsor neither agreed nor disagreed with our decision to provide more assessment; however, they simply said that they were not doing an assessment of these controls at other sites.  We indicated that if we didn’t provide assessment for controls that were “Not implemented, but planned,” there wouldn’t be much for us to assess since the site had not implemented the majority of the required security controls for their network.

Looking back on the experience now, had you been in the position of managing the project, what could you have done to better manage these issues and control the scope of the project?

What we failed to do was the remaining steps recommended by Greer (2010), which was to update the project scope statement and overall plan as well as obtain written approval. This was important because this change in scope ended up adding too much time to a project that already had major time constraints (it was a six week project that needed three to four months and/or more personnel to conduct assessments).  We finished the project on-time, but all team members had to work long hours to get it done.


Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

                The first site I found is a blog site for J.A. Kruger & Associates, Project Management Consultants within the Engineering and Construction Industries at  The JAL & Associates blog site contains a number of blog posts on project management, planning and consulting; however, of particular interest was the blog entry on Estimating Planning Durations and Resources (JAL & Associates, 2012). This blog post provides a very comprehensive explanation on allocating resources and provides an excellent example of “work content estimating” in terms of low-level and high-level tasks.  While this site is for engineering and construction, it provides a great example of the methodologies involved in estimated task duration using norms.

                The second site contains an excellent article on project management and resource allocation.  The article is posted on Peter Kretzman’s blog at and contains an explanation of the resource allocation process, especially in regards to multiple projects and why understanding this process is so key to successful project management.  Kretzman (2010) provides a very practical, simplistic approach to resource allocation and gives a brief overview of a number of allocation tools along with their pros and cons of each.

                The third site contains an article that focuses on how to avoid resource allocation issues.  Thought the article (on Tech Republic’s website at was posted in 2003 it is still relevant today.  Fitzgerald (2003) discusses some of the issues found with overreliance on scheduling tools and provides and excellent explanation on the difference between overcommitment and overallocation.  Fitzgerald (2003) goes on to provide suggestions how to avoid both of these issues when allocating resources for a project.


Fitzgerald, D. (2003, April 21). The keys to resource allocation.  Tech Republic.  Retrieved from  

JAL & Associates (2012, February 5). Estimating Planning Durations and Resources. [Blog message].  Retrieved from

Kretzman, P. (2010).  Simple, more practical approaches to actual resource allocation. [Blog message].  Retrieved from

Friday, November 16, 2012

Communicating Effectively

"The Art of Effective Communication."

                After I reviewed each message, I thought very little changed from each modality to the next.  I thought the Email was well written, professional, and indicated a sense of urgency without being “pushy” or rude.  The voice mail and the face-to-face did little to change how I perceived the message, though I did feel that the voice mail sounded slightly more urgent.  Without knowing the personalities, it’s difficult to determine if the face-to-face speaker speaks in a more relaxed tone than the person who left the voice mail (it sounded like two different voices to me); however, people who leave voice mails may also tend to speak faster because they want to leave a message before the end of the “beep,” which may make them sound like the message is more urgent than it actually is.

                There are both positives and negatives to sending Emails.  By sending an Email, a person can take his or her time to carefully draft a message and think about what they want to say before they “hit send;” however, in an office environment, many people do not take the time to do this and they may “hit send” before they have even proofread their message.  The other negative is that your “tone” is not conveyed when you send an Email so you have no idea how the other person is going to react.  From the face-to-face meeting, I would surmise that Jane was being somewhat cautious when approaching Mark as she really needed information from him, but was concerned that her request might upset him since he had been busy in an all day meeting.  While I felt that the Email was appropriate and professional, others may feel that an Email would not convey the right tone.  In this case, Jane was cautious and almost apologetic in her asking for the report, but I also felt that she spoke much slower than the person on the phone so that could also be her normal tone.  Either way, a face-to-face allows us to read non-verbal cues that an Email cannot provide.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). The Art of Effective Communication. [Video] United States: Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from

Friday, November 9, 2012

Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”

Security Audit of a Government Agency

My company was hired as part of a contract bid to conduct an audit and network security assessment of a federal agency at multiple sites across the U.S.  The project was initiated by the headquarters for this particular agency (at Washington DC), but the work was to be conducted at the various local sites.  My role was Project Technical Lead as well as the Lead Security Control Assessor for federal government sites in Hawaii.  Working with my project team, we met all the required deliverables with just a slight slippage in the delivery date; however, it was a very difficult project with multiple stakeholders and issues. 
Processes, project artifacts and activities that contributed to the success of this project:
From The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Greer, 2010)
Step 2: Get your team together and start the project (p 10). Processes from this step that contributed to the success of his project included putting together a project kick off meeting with the customer (local stakeholders) which (1) introduced team members and their roles and responsibilities, (2) defined objectives, (3) defined the project scope, (4) defined deliverables, (5)  identified risks and assumptions  and (6) provided a proposed schedule.  The initial face-to-face meeting went well and presented the customer with the requirements, while allowing the local customer/stakeholder to have input on the project, such as the schedule and scope. 

Step 4: Figure out what you need to do to complete the work products. (Identify tasks and phases.)  (p. 17). Processes from this step that contributed to the success of his project included reviewing the initial list of deliverables and identifying the specific tasks that needed to be accomplished.  These were identified and tracked online where the overall PM could track the progress.

Step 5: Estimate time, effort, and resources (p. 20).  Processes from this step that contributed to the success of his project included assembling the core team and obtaining additional resources.  For example, a penetration test of the network was required as a deliverable and no one on the team had the skills to perform this skill so a new team member was hired.   Team members met regularly to discuss the level of effort and resources required to complete the various tasks.
Processes, project artifacts and activities that were not included that could have made the project more successful:

From Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. (Portny, et. al., 2008)
Not involving all key project stakeholders (p. 106) and Lack of commitment by all team members to the project’s success (p. 108).  While this project was part of a multi-site project, the PM and customer rep/stakeholder did not obtain approval/buy-in from the local customer/stakeholders resulting in resentment towards the project team and their efforts to complete the project.    Obtaining information from some of these stakeholders became very difficult throughout the project.

Not identifying and sharing key project assumptions (p. 107).  Members of teams working the project at other sites had information about the project, but were hesitant or late in sharing the information.  In addition, our customer asked us to modify the standard assumptions so that the team could provide the customer with better feedback in areas where they were weak or needed to improve.  Other sites did not follow this guidance; however, had we followed the project assumption as written, the project would have been a complete disaster as the majority of the items to evaluate would have been “skipped” because the site was not ready for the review.
Greer. M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects!  (laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.
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

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Welcome EDUC 6145 Students

Welcome EDUC 6145 Students!

I was trying to set up multiple pages, but all new posts always post back to the original page so I'm back to displaying just one page.  If anyone knows how to get new posts to go to the second page, let me know!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Distance Learning Course Reflection

               Distance learning has changed dramatically over the last two decades.  In 2001, when I began my first online class as an undergrad student with the University of Phoenix, very few universities offered online courses, which made the UoP very unique in that it offered entire programs online.  While distance learning may have been a fairly new concept in 2001, in 2012, distance learning has taken on a whole new meaning that has expanded beyond universities.  As corporations have also begun to develop training programs using online education, instructional designers have had to adapt to new learning pedagogies, which in turn, required a change in how learning modules were developed and implemented.  Moller, Foshay, & Huett (2008) provided sound advice when they expressed a need for corporations to evaluate quality, a return on investment and the need for better instructional systems design among other concerns for the evolution of the field of the instructional designer.

          This course allowed me to explore a number of different elements that instructional designers need to know to develop distance learning modules and explore the differences between learning in a traditional face-to-face classroom environment and in an online environment.  These past few weeks have given me new insight to course development and distance learning.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Converting to a Distance Learning Format

Consider the following 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.  This is my "Pre-planning Strategy Guide" for converting to a distance/hybrid learning environment.

Specific Issues
Pre-Planning Strategies
 Follow-up Action
·         Students may not have online experience (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012)
·         Student apprehensive about change in program
·   Make the requirements clear (Simonson, et al.,  2012)
·   Consider needs of students based on background (Simonson, et al.,  2012) 

·   Keep students informed and provide constant feedback (Simonson, et., al.,  2012)
·   Have students participate in surveys and focus groups
Course Development
·         Time consuming
·         Requires multi-stage process
1. Create a storyboard
2. Create a site map
3. Identify course assets (e. g. graphics, videos, documents, etc.)
4. Identify potential course software (such as a CMS, LMS, Wiki, or HTML)
5. Identify the potential sections
6. Plan for testing
(Laureate, Inc, Producera)
·   Instructor should work with ID to ensure course development stays on track

·         Technology may not be available (Laureate, Inc. , Producerb)
·         Students may not know how to use it/may not have access to the technology
·   Review course requirements against tech requirements
·   Develop technology training instructions
·   Identify tech support (who will provide, who to call, etc.)
·   Train students to use the course website  (Simonson, et., al.,  2012)
·   Technology should be tested before implementation

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Impact of Open Source

For my review of Cpen Course websites, I chose to review the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) OpenCourseware  (OCW).  According to the MIT OCW website, MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.”  I reviewed the site’s “online tour” (at which described the course content and explored a number of the courses themselves.  While the format has been modified for distance learning, the available courses have all previously been taught at MIT and were not pre-planned or designed for online learning.

Because the courses were first taught in the classroom, they were not designed for distance learning and do not follow many of the recommendations for online learning.  For example, the course do not have instructor support, nor do they have any guidance on how to succeed as a distance learner and students complete the course on their own without a scheduled timeline; however, there are many benefits to this program.  For example, MIT did build in study groups for most of their courses, which allows students to help each other in the same way that a certified distance learning class does with discussion groups. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

Interactive Museum Tour

For my distance learning example, I chose example two, the interactive museum tour.  Many organizations, to include museums, subscribe to one or more social media sharing sites, such as Facebook or Twitter. These sites allow users to “follow” the site and post comments about the site.  Museums will also want to share photographs, presentations and other information about the museum’s artifacts and may choose to do so through the use of a media sharing site such as Flickr or YouTube (Laureate Inc., 2012).  In order to create a group critique about the art exhibit, the instructor should consider creating a blog (Laureate Inc., 2012) and have the students log in and post their critique about the art or if the museum already has an art exhibit blog, the instructor could work with the students to submit a group blog entry on the museum’s blog site.
The museum may also offer podcasts (Laureate Inc., 2012) about various exhibits so the instructor should make sure that her students are familiar with podcast technology and look for podcasts for the students to download and view, if applicable.  The museum may or may not offer virtual tours; however, the instructor could work with the curator to use some type of discussion technology (Laureate Inc., 2012) to develop a webinar or chat session  to allow the students an opportunity to ask questions of the curator in real time.
The Smithsonian offers a wide variety of technologies for distance learners to connect and explore the museum on their website.  On their “ways to connect page” (Smithsonian, 2012), the Smithsonian offers users the following web 2.0 technologies: Blogs, Facebook, Flickr, Mobile, Pinterest, Podcasts, Twitter, YouTube, and Virtual World.  Pinterest is an online “pinboard” that allows users to share pictures, videos and other interests (Pinterest, n.d.).  The Smithsonian’s  Virtual World offers a program called the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum, which is a an avatar-based 3-D virtual world featuring learning activities based on bilingual mixed media experiences created to increase visitors knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Latino Cultural Heritage through innovative and engaging online experiences (Smithsonian, 2012).  This technology was developed by the VITAL Lab, a research and development facility at the Ohio University in Athens, Ohio (VITAL Lab, 2011).
Pinterest. (n.d.)  Pinterest.  Retrieved from
Smithsonian. (2012 February 2). Connect with the Smithsonian.  Retrieved from
VITAL Lab. (2011). Virtual immersive technologies and arts for learning laboratory.  Retrieved from

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Distance Learning Map

Defining Distance Learning

                When I first enrolled as a community college of the Air Force (CCAF) student, the only distance learning programs were correspondence courses, though the academic advisors never mentioned this as an option to military students.  When I enrolled, I was on active duty with the Air Force in the early 80s and was encouraged to take CLEP and DANTES tests for college credit; however, because I was in a mobile unit that was subject to short notice temporary assignments worldwide, I was discouraged by my unit from taking college courses.  During my second duty assignment (which was in Italy), I was only able to  attend a few college courses (on base) as I worked rotating shifts.  Moller, Foshay, & Huett (2008) stated that the primary driving forces of distance education are economics and access.   While I may or may not have been able to attend distance education classes while assigned to a mobile unit, I definitely would have been able to attend more classes during my second assignment in Italy, had the technology been available.  Because I often worked shift work during my early years in the military, I often found it challenging to find the courses I needed, much less find the time to complete the course.