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How do you deal with gold plating in your project?
How do you deal with it in reality?
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Some thoughts I want to bring forward:
1) gold plating has to be identified as a risk in the early stages of the project including potential impacts and mitigation measures.
2) establish project objectives (deliverables) in as much detail as possible
3) define a change management process and rigorously implement including on client driven changes
4) cost out the gold plating both in time and money preferably before adopting or investing in them, however even after the fact can be important to stress to the team their impact.
5) consider using an exchange system - to get [this] you need to sacrifice [that].
To me, it very much depends on the type of project. If there is a fixed-cost, fixed scope project then I preach against it strongly. Same is true if the particular resource is highly constrained (i.e. on the critical path of this & other projects).

However I currently work in a company which has extensive R&D, and there are certainly cases where a team member will bring forth a feature that, although out of scope, could bring some great value in the future (which is what R&D is all about) with minimal incremental effort.

Of course if it's not "minimal" effort (which varies case-by-case), then we mark it as a good potential future project.

Essentially gold plating, at least in this environment, is equivalent to a proposed scope change.

However it also depends on your definition of gold plating. If you execute projects strictly by the value proposition of the individual project, then you can slap some software code (or whatever) together pretty easily and consider the job done. However there are times - especially in the software aspect of projects - where taking some time to consider the future possibilities can pay off in spades in the long run. Is doing something better considered gold plating, or is it just smart business practice to consider other future possibilities that might not have been considered?

For the most part - at least in my current environment - I encourage people to keep on the lookout for "better" ways, and not just ram through the fastest & cheapest way. But for sure that doesn't carry across to all projects in all industries.

Part of the reason for this is that I've seen way too many instances of being put into a bad place on a current project because someone went the "cheap and dirty" path on a past project. I don't want my current projects to cause bigger problems in the future.

And BTW it's not just software. Specifically I remember instances where we have had a perception issue with a customer, and by gold-plating (in this case putting some custom artwork on an electrical enclosure and packaging was never in-scope) happened in order to demonstrate to our customer that we were "going the extra mile" for them and instilling confidence. In these cases it was a small amount of money (our own cost) in order to improve our customer's perception.

-Bob C.
FWIW, it might be useful to mention to the newer PMs here that gold-plating is not the same thing as scope creep. In some of our/my answers herein we seem to be conflating these two concepts. The formal definition of scope creep (per PMI) is "the uncontrolled expansion of product or project scope without adjustments to time, cost, and resources." I can't find a comparable formal definition of gold plating within PMI, but to me it would be focused on quality or acceptance requirements, not scope. E.g., something like "the uncontrolled increase in quality requirements (e.g., form, fit, function, performance, etc.) without adjustments to time, cost, and resources."
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1 reply by Stéphane Parent
Jun 17, 2022 8:18 AM
Stéphane Parent
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I see gold plating as a type of scope creep. To me, scope creep is approved or unapproved increases in scope without changes to the baseline. (Trust me, scope creep will definitely add to your time and costs.)

Gold plating is an example of unapproved scope creep. Refactoring is an example of approved scope creep.
Jun 16, 2022 9:14 AM
Replying to Mark Warner
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FWIW, it might be useful to mention to the newer PMs here that gold-plating is not the same thing as scope creep. In some of our/my answers herein we seem to be conflating these two concepts. The formal definition of scope creep (per PMI) is "the uncontrolled expansion of product or project scope without adjustments to time, cost, and resources." I can't find a comparable formal definition of gold plating within PMI, but to me it would be focused on quality or acceptance requirements, not scope. E.g., something like "the uncontrolled increase in quality requirements (e.g., form, fit, function, performance, etc.) without adjustments to time, cost, and resources."
I see gold plating as a type of scope creep. To me, scope creep is approved or unapproved increases in scope without changes to the baseline. (Trust me, scope creep will definitely add to your time and costs.)

Gold plating is an example of unapproved scope creep. Refactoring is an example of approved scope creep.
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1 reply by Peter Rapin
Jun 18, 2022 3:54 PM
Peter Rapin
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I agree, you can't consider gold plating outside of scope changes or, as you write, scope creep. Some may argue that gold plating is a quality thing - a better deliverable than initially required or expected. However, if one defines quality as meeting client expectations then exceeding client expectations is the opposite of quality.

Gold plating is another name for scope change.

If one were to argue that gold plating is a scope change without cost or time impacts it would be misleading as without the gold plating the project would have been delivered at reduced cost and time.

My conclusion is that 'gold plating' is unnecessary terminology in project delivery. We already have it covered under scope change and scope management.
Jun 17, 2022 8:18 AM
Replying to Stéphane Parent
...
I see gold plating as a type of scope creep. To me, scope creep is approved or unapproved increases in scope without changes to the baseline. (Trust me, scope creep will definitely add to your time and costs.)

Gold plating is an example of unapproved scope creep. Refactoring is an example of approved scope creep.
I agree, you can't consider gold plating outside of scope changes or, as you write, scope creep. Some may argue that gold plating is a quality thing - a better deliverable than initially required or expected. However, if one defines quality as meeting client expectations then exceeding client expectations is the opposite of quality.

Gold plating is another name for scope change.

If one were to argue that gold plating is a scope change without cost or time impacts it would be misleading as without the gold plating the project would have been delivered at reduced cost and time.

My conclusion is that 'gold plating' is unnecessary terminology in project delivery. We already have it covered under scope change and scope management.
Late to the party but gold plating IS NOT always bad and IS NOT scope creep. If managed correctly it can be a good thing, it's all about priorities and relationships. The worse thing you can do is to discard gold plating requirements, keep them on the backlog.

Big picture thinking is required when dealing with gold plating.
Gold plating can be defined as putting a shiny finish on a sub-standard delivery. Its based on appearance rather than quality..

A gold plated tea set is a tea set with fancy external appearance - it does not perform any better and is only valued for its appearance (if you like gold).
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1 reply by Anton Oosthuizen
Jun 27, 2022 8:19 AM
Anton Oosthuizen
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Do not really agree. Whatever you are putting a shine on does not have to be substandard. You could have the best backend in the world with a frontend that does the job just fine, so there is no need to change anything. Ever heard the expression 'you eat with your eyes'. This means that you can have the tastiest food ever but if it is just a heap of brown mush then nobody will pay to eat it, you have to make it look nice too, you have to gold plate it.
Jun 23, 2022 1:54 PM
Replying to Peter Rapin
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Gold plating can be defined as putting a shiny finish on a sub-standard delivery. Its based on appearance rather than quality..

A gold plated tea set is a tea set with fancy external appearance - it does not perform any better and is only valued for its appearance (if you like gold).
Do not really agree. Whatever you are putting a shine on does not have to be substandard. You could have the best backend in the world with a frontend that does the job just fine, so there is no need to change anything. Ever heard the expression 'you eat with your eyes'. This means that you can have the tastiest food ever but if it is just a heap of brown mush then nobody will pay to eat it, you have to make it look nice too, you have to gold plate it.
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