Disguised Project

Disguised Project
: Try to get substantial work done without having to set up and fund a project

Proverbs: If the Devil is going to disguise himself, it will be as a monk or a lawyer

Also Known As: Scope Creep (in a Business As Usual context)

Motivation: Some changes to IT systems can be trivial in nature, such as minor amendments to site content or defect fixes. This type of work is considered to be “Business As Usual” (BAU) and as such it is often absorbed by the organization-at-large as an operational expense. Departmental stakeholders who want more substantial changes must usually resource a suitable project from their capital budgets. They therefore have an incentive to disguise such work, either by misrepresenting it as a normal operational small change, or by breaking it up into a series of small changes that they hope will slip through a BAU work-stream unnoticed.

Structure: A Kanban Team will action items that are drawn from an ordered backlog, each of which may require a certain quality of service. Work In Progress limits will be observed, and metrics will be used to inspect and adapt the team’s working practices on an iterative and time-boxed basis. The backlog is expected to consist of “Business As Usual” changes that are small and repeatable in nature. However, large or mutually dependent work items will have been placed on it that do not represent BAU work, and which are associated with significant scope risk.

Applicability: Disguised projects are commonly found where there is a separation between operational and capital budgets. It is also found where there is inadequate control over the parameters of BAU work, or over the threshold that must be reached to trigger project inception.

Consequences: A disguised project will compromise the ability of BAU teams to handle genuine “Business As Usual” work. Throughput will be reduced due to the size and scale of the work items, and the associated scope risk is likely to be hidden.

: Business As Usual work is typically handled by Kanban teams, and as such they are most likely to encounter disguised projects on their backlog. Scrum teams tend to be organized in terms of project delivery and so this work is unlikely to be disguised. Scrumban teams might be aligned to a project while simultaneously providing BAU support, hence they are also at risk of encountering disguised projects on the BAU stack.

See Also: Scrumban