My experience with ‘scope creep’

In a past position I was charged with re-vamping an hour and a half orientation for a small non-profit to make it more engaging and have it incorporate elements like knowledge checks and small group discussions.  The executive director and I sat down to outline and discuss the key components and the deadline and I began the work shortly thereafter.  Going forward we had bi-weekly check-ins where I presented status reports and I had the understanding that a proof-of-concept  would be required of me about half-way in.  It was at the half-way point, where I furnished the ED with storyboards and content outline, when the ED shared a new vision and expectations with me.  These elements were beyond the scope that we had initially discussed and would certainly cause me to miss the deadline and budget targets.  The ED wanted to add online material to supplement the face-to-face orientation and she wanted to incorporate  a mini-training on a software system that the employees would be required to use on the job.  This added so many layers and required more resources–both finance and human.  Looking back, I would have drafted a formal MOU and would have deferred to it every time the ED wanted to pile on demands or suggest additions that could not feasibly be completed in the allotted time.



Tools to help with cost estimate & resource allocation

I found these two sites that help with cost estimation.  One was developed by The Center for Learning Technologies at Old Dominion University .  It features a spreadsheet that allows you to plug in your project information and receive cost estimates.  It is really comprehensive and has pages for each element and breaks those pages down into a division of labor among the producer, designer and tech. person.   The tool allows you to get figures related to your project based on how many hours of course content you are charged with delivering.  I would use this tool to help me get clear on the resource allocation.

The other resource is a website compiled by a seasoned Instructional Designer called  It has a wealth of information (links to other resources, spreadsheet templates, toolkits) on the process of creating a budget and it offers some guidance to less experienced designers (noting the costs of overlooked expenses like stock photos etc.).  I would use this resource to help me develop the line items of my budget.  This resource is ideal for a novice ID because it gives some rough estimates (i.e. “Course is five days or less, then 3 hours of preparation for each hour of training”) and the ID can get a feel for whether their estimates are reasonable.


Clark, D.R. (2014). Estimating Cost and time in instructional design. Retrieved from