Who are you calling a scope creep?

Programmer pilot fish is approached by some of the company's engineers. Can fish whip up a small database to track issues on the manufacturing line as they run tests? Sure, says fish.

But before he can get started, a newly hired engineer gets wind of the project. This is too big for one programmer to handle, engineer tells fish's manager. What's needed is a robust system that will not only track the tests but also run the manufacturing line.

"And so the feeding frenzy begins!" says fish.

"Consultants are brought in. The engineer is wined and dined.

"To put in a really good system, a network will have to be put on the line. That's added to the project charter.

"The consultants recommend that, in order to make a really good system, it should take orders from the company mainframe. More programming time is added.

"Some of the equipment on the line is old -- but paid for -- and to make a really good system, new equipment should be installed. The engineer flies all over the country to look at new equipment."

Finally, after a year of research and more than $100,000 spent on consultants, the engineer presents his proposal to the company president.

Cost of the system? Over $2 million to install, with full-time staff additions of four people to run things.

"The president shoots the proposal down," fish reports. "The engineer resigns to go work for the consulting company.

"And a week after he's gone, I'm approached by the original engineers and asked if I can create the database they wanted.

"A week later, they have their database and are happy."

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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