There is NO gold in Gold Plating!


By Hani Hmedeh

Do you really think that you gain goods or you offer some for your clients by doing Gold Plating? I don't think so!

Gold plating is nothing than adding a new feature(s)  that are not considered in the original scope plan at any point of the project. This addition will introduce a new source of risks to the original planning such as additional testing, documentation, costs, or timelines.

Need for the Gold… (the causes)

Do you know someone who just won't stop working on a product until he gets it absolutely perfect? Maybe that person is you. If so, you're probably guilty of gold plating.  YES! Guilty… but that is ok, you are not violating the laws of project management, especially if you are offering the “Gold” on a project or deliverable after the requirements have been met.

But, why this happened in the first place? and why we are offering that gold?... There are many reasons for this, but the main ones are that you feel the need to please the customer or impress other stakeholders.  Yes, Yes, Yes ...everyone will be happy to get extra for free. But keep in mind… for FREE. let’s see if this is really for free.

The Curse of Gold…. (the negative effects)

Let's wrap our heads around to find the real gold in this process if any.

The Free Extras… will always lead to the Extra OF the Free.

Nice statement, isn't it? and unfortunately, it is true, nothing for free in business. You are offering your extra gold without money, but not for free. So let’s discover the real cost of gold plating.

You start this journey with good intentions, but... you fall into the perfectionist trap, tweaking at deliverable after it's acceptance criteria has already been met. In fact, you are setting up to disappoint your client in the future if you don’t add extras for free. Once you add extras, your client will always expect extras.

This is not the full bill and guess what. There are some taxes to be added.

  • First, are you breaking the change control process by adding an unauthorized change in the scope, and the client can refuse to accept the product. If so, let’s add this tax to the bill.
  • Second, do you really have extra manpower with no projects on the table? if no… let’s added another tax to the bill.
  • Third, is this a trend to follow in every project? Let me answer this question. If this is the first time, YES! it gonna be a trend… if this is not the first time, so you are following the trend. Of course, you have to add this tax to this bill and to future ones as well.

No more Fake Gold…(the solution)

No Gold at all, right? However, gold plating does not prevent new features from being added to the project; they can be added at any time as long as they follow the official change procedure and the impact of the change in all the areas of the project is taken into consideration.

Usually, gold plating is performed by either the project team or the project manager, so how to avoid it:

  • First, you should never allow the team member to add any extra function or features to the product without approval.
  • Second, as a project manager, you should also avoid it.
  • Third, you must establish proper communication lines within the project team.

Conclusion

As a project manager, it is your job to keep monitoring the activities of the project and stop unwanted actions which may lead your project into problems such as gold plating. So, stick to your original plan that was agreed upon by the client without extras, and all the enhancements should follow a proper change control process.

 


By Hani Hmedeh