Gold Plating in Project Management

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Jose Daniel Esterkin
CEO, Argentina

Gold Plating in Project Management

🔥NEW Gold Plating in project management is the error of continuing to work on a project or task well past the point where the extra value it generates (if any) is worth the effort. The term goldplating refers to delivering more requirements than what the client requested. After having met the requirements, the developer works on further enhancing the product, thinking the customer will be delighted to see additional or more polished features, rather than what was asked for or expected. The customer might be disappointed in the results, and the extra effort by the developer might be futile.

Gold Plating (GP) is considered a bad project management practice in different project management best practices and methodologies such as: Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) and Prince 2. In these methodologies, GP means the addition of any feature not considered in the original scope plan (PMBoK) or business case (Prince2) at any point of the project since it introduces a new source of risks to the original planning (i.e. additional testing, documentation, costs, timelines, etc.).

Even though it might seem that GP is a good thing, it actually is not. It is wrong for two reasons.
First, the primary focus of the project should be to make sure that you deliver what the client wants - on time and within budget. By adding additional work, the risk increases that the project will not meet its deadline or budget. If you end up missing your deadline date, you will not receive a lot of sympathy if you explain that the date was missed because of adding more work than the client agreed to.

Second, if you goldplate, you are taking it upon yourself to make a business decision on what is of most value to the client. There may be some good reasons why the additional features were not included in the initial project scope. They may, in fact, be of marginal value to the client. There may be more value in having the solution completed early and for less cost. The point is that this is a client decision and not one that the project manager should make.

Source: PMBOK Sixth Edition, PMI, 2017

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