Project Creep – The silent money-and-time-suck

I’m typically not the biggest fan of buzzwords, and I try to keep them out of the garage, but the 4-link project that I’m currently in the middle of is victim of one of the buzzwords I use at work a lot, and it can have a terrible impact on a garage project, or any project for that matter.

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Scope creep, or project creep is basically what happens when we don’t plan out a project properly, and unexpected costs, both in time and money, start running rampant.  In my case, I budgeted for all the materials I needed, including the metal and the new flex joints and all the hardware and new fasteners.  What I didn’t give myself was enough time.  I gave myself three days to design, build, and install a custom 4 link for my rig (my first no less…)

WTF was I thinking!!!???  As a result, it’s now Wednesday, I’m back at work from the holiday, and the Jeep is still on jackstands in the garage.  I’m fully dependent on others for rides to and from work until this weekend when I can get back to it.

So, how did it happen?  Well, to begin with, I’m sort of an idiot.  But also, it’s been the little things that have put me so far behind schedule.  For example, there’s the jam nut that took me two hours to get off, because it got galled up on the flex joint.  There’s re-routing the exhaust around the 4-link that I completely forgot about.  There’s welding wire that I totally forgot to check on, so I ran out halfway through a bead.  I didn’t expect to go through welding gas as fast as I did either.  This is something that’s hard to get a hold of without a vehicle during work hours;  it’s put the project on hold probably until this weekend…  There’s friends who stop by to check on the progress.  The list goes on ad nauseum.  And it’s only the things we think of, not the myriad other issues that can will pop up during a project.

Here’s the rub:  I don’t know that there really is a good way to account for project creep either, except for experience.  It’s just part of the process I think.  How’s that for a disappointing and anti-climactic ending?

Just kidding…

We can reign in project creep (at least to some degree) by following a few easy principles when we’re out in the shop.

1.   Check for all of the tools and supplies you’ll need for the entire project, before you even get the jackstands out, especially consumables (like brake cleaner, welding wire, and fuel for your space heater!)

b)   Know how you work best, be it alone, or with a group, or in complete silence, or in high heels.  If you set up your workspace such that it supports your work style, it’ll help you be faster, more efficient, and cleaner as you work, which will save you stupid amounts of time.

III.   PLAN YOUR PROJECT.  No matter what, putting some time into planning your project will do wonders to keep the project within the original scope.  It’ll also get you in the mindset to make sure you are comfortable with every step of the project, so you aren’t thinking about how to complete step 37 when you’re only on step 6.  Actually, I think project planning would make for a great stand-alone blog post.  Look for that one day.

That’s where I’m gonna wrap this up for today. I’ll try to get started on the next one soon.  Here’s a picture of mountains to hold you over

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Stay greasy my friends.

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