What Is Gold Plating in Project Management?

The project manager always looks for new ways to enrich the project scope. To provide for the client and stakeholders, they add extra features to the timeline. Gold plating in project management refers to the controlled expansion of the scope baseline.

To scope creep a project, project teams alter the original scope beyond the agreement. Granted, this can affect the initial process. Hence, gold plating refers to those aspects that “sweeten the deal” without producing blockages.

Key takeaways

  • Gold plating refers to the practice of adding extra features to a project’s scope that were not part of the original agreement, aiming to enhance client satisfaction without causing project blockages​​.
  • It relies on the project manager’s judgment to exceed client expectations without increasing costs for the sponsors, and is intended as a bonus to gain favor​​.
  • While it is meant to please the client, gold plating can sometimes backfire, potentially devaluing other project achievements and best avoided if it risks the project’s agreed scope​​.
  • Gold plating is not budgeted for and can lead to additional testing and resource consumption, which can be detrimental when time is limited​​.

Examples of Gold Plating

  • A team member may insert additional features without consulting the higher-ups
  • A project manager might add new goals to garner attention from the client
  • Gold plating can be a distinction from certain subpar aspects of the project
  • Either way, gold plating should appease the client

With that said, there are cases where gold plating will do more harm than good. It may devalue the other achievements of the work breakdown structure. In such scenarios, it’s best to stick to the agreed-upon scope.

For instance: Adding a short video to a software project is a good idea. After placing one on the client’s landing page, they ask for more to be made. So, the team will have to put in extra hours since this is outside the agreement.

That’s why any gold plating should fit the standard methodical procedure. That way, neither the budget nor the team will suffer. Preserving the initial timeline is a goal you should never ignore.

Problems and Common Difficulties

A Few Causes of Slowdowns

Inflating a project mid-way can upset the team’s tempo. To scope creep the work means putting a lot on the line for an extra feature. Before long, it can cause you to push a deadline further than you would’ve otherwise. Gold plating in project management can only worsen this trend.

Not a Cost-Effective Option

The project’s budget won’t account for gold plating. Plus, it can warrant an extra testing period and eat up other resources. This is bad news when already pressed with time.

Impose a Different Workflow

Once you alter courses in that way, the team may wonder what to do first. So, running after customer expectations can confer the project team. Even when based on the best intentions, the additional cost might incite a veto.

Can Lead to a Failed Project

Even if the extra add-ons don’t affect the client’s pocket, they might change the final outcome. As such, they’d be products outside of the client’s approval.

Depending on the original agreement, this might be a deal-breaker. Next, the client might opt to dismiss the work and won’t accept the product.

Warrants Regulatory Requirements

Some clients may take gold plating for granted. Thus, they would ask for such freebies on all future tasks.

If the client approaches it that way, you should stop the scope creep. It will keep on creating responsibilities for the team without reason.

Stick to the Best Case Scenario for Your Position

  • Enforce a rule that all changes must wait for PMP approval. Make it clear that you don’t want any uncontrolled changes within the project. Thus, you’ll prevent an extra cost from appearing
  • Stick to the common principles. Regardless of the market conditions, no team members should alter the work on their own. Instead, they should raise any idea to the higher-ups first
  • Establish clear communication channels. Even at the later stages, keep looking for a sudden unauthorized change.

In other words, to keep your client happy, stick to their wishes. If the team adds something to the to-do list, everyone should discuss it in detail. Also, if you notice a way to improve the order, notify the client first of all. Also, schedule an impact analysis if they do agree.

A Definition of Scope Creep

Scope creep refers to the practice of further changing a project as it develops. This is usually done without any additional testing.

In such cases, it becomes very difficult to keep the team focused. So, most leaders try to avoid managing scope creep. However, sometimes it can follow gold plating in project management.

How Scope Creep Occurs

The list of most common triggers for this includes:

  • Off-the-record orders between the client and a team member
  • A member acts on their own without a proper review period. This can happen even if you encourage open communication
  • Miscommunication between the team and the clients or stakeholders.
  • Not feasible time constraints and deadlines
  • A bug in the quality assurance process
  • Missing project scope statement that alters the product scope

Hot to Avoid Scope Creep

maxresdefault What Is Gold Plating in Project Management?

Project managers should not allow space for sudden scope creep. Otherwise, they might have to schedule delays. Here are a few approaches that can prevent it:

  • Observe your team’s wishes and change management if necessary
  • Don’t ask for new features
  • Handle all client communication instances
  • Often call for inputs from your team members
  • Demand frequent progress updates

How to Spot Scope Creep

Assume you’ve already delivered the first leg of the project. As soon as the team starts moving to the next phase, the client asks for a change. Thinking it’s not a hefty change, you accept. However, it starts impacting the project scope in a major way.

Before long, this added feature affects the ongoing work and causes cost overruns. Plus, you’ll need to check and review the new product, which also demands resources.

Scope Creep and Gold Plating – Key Differences

Although similar in a practical sense, these activities have varying outcomes. Generally, project managers resort to gold plating to make headway elsewhere. So, they try to cover some mishaps in that way or shoot for a better deal later on. Hence, it’s more of a controlled risk.

In comparison, scope creep can also originate from the client. It may follow a successful gold plating attempt, but this is not a rule. Either way, the added costs will follow on the company’s back. Granted, unless there are changes to the initial agreement.

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FAQ about gold plating in project management

What is gold plating in project management?

In project management, “gold plating” refers to the process of enhancing a project’s features or functionality past what the stakeholders had initially anticipated or demanded. As a result, the project may go above its allotted budget, timetable, and scope.

Why is gold plating considered bad practice in project management?

Because it can result in project delays, higher expenses, and pointless work, gold plating is regarded as bad practise. Also, it may lead to the project’s departure from its intended direction and failure to satisfy the needs of the stakeholders. The project team and stakeholders may become confused and miscommunicate as a result of gold plating.

What are the consequences of gold plating in project management?

The effects of project management “gold plating” might include higher project costs, missed deadlines, and unhappy stakeholders. Also, it may cause scope creep and a lack of focus on the project’s initial goals and objectives. Given that it necessitates additional effort that might not be required or advantageous to the project, gold plating can also lower team morale and efficiency.

How can project managers prevent gold plating?

Clear project goals and objectives, efficient stakeholder communication, and adherence to the project’s scope, timing, and budget are all ways that project managers can avoid gold plating. Also, it’s critical to establish reasonable expectations for project results and make sure the team stays committed to achieving them.

What are some examples of gold plating in project management?

In project management, gold plating can take the form of adding features or functionality that are not necessary, making cosmetic adjustments that do not improve the performance of the product, or devoting excessive time to tasks that are not essential to the project’s success.

How does gold plating impact project scope and budget?

By increasing the amount of work necessary to finish the project, gold plating can have an impact on project scope and budget. Resources may need to be purchased at a higher cost as a result, and the project’s completion date may need to be extended. Scope creep, which can make it harder to manage project risks and satisfy stakeholder expectations, can also be brought on by gold plating.

Can gold plating ever be justified in project management?

In some circumstances, such as when it can significantly benefit the stakeholders or when it can enhance the project’s overall performance, gold plating may be justified. But, it’s crucial to balance the expenses and potential advantages and make sure that the team stays committed to achieving the project’s initial goals and objectives.

How can project managers address gold plating if it has already occurred?

Project managers can deal with gold plating by speaking with the team and stakeholders to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the project’s objectives and scope. To make sure that the additional work can be accommodated without creating delays or driving up expenses, it could also be important to reevaluate the project’s budget and schedule.

How does gold plating affect project timelines?

Project schedules may be impacted by gold plating since it makes more work necessary to finish the project. This can cause delays and necessitate more resources to finish the project on schedule. Moreover, gold plating might make it more challenging to control project risks and fulfil stakeholder expectations.

What are some alternative approaches to gold plating in project management?

In place of gold plating, project managers can concentrate on providing the project’s important features and functionality, prioritise tasks according to how crucial they are to the project’s success, and motivate the team to work quickly and effectively. Maintaining open lines of contact with stakeholders is also crucial for making sure that their demands are satisfied without adding extra labour to the project.

Conclusion on Gold Plating in Project Management

While seemingly harmless, gold plating can end up working against you. A myriad of outside conditions can vastly complicate its execution. Thus, even when using it strategically, it can grow out of proportion fast.

Therefore, both scope creep and gold plating are risky endeavors. The PMP exam cites them as such, and they necessitate extra attention on the manager’s part. To minimize their frequency, work on proper communication channels.

The bottom line, these cases imply that the manager is being too liberal with their decisions. If all conduct follows the basic rules, then the team will stick to the initial order. That way, they will stick as close to the client’s expectations as possible. Otherwise, that tendency can easily cause you to waste resources.

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