Do people gold plate anymore or do they just expand the scope to include new features and functions? You know what “gold plate” is don’t you? It’s a general term that usually means adding more to the system than specified in the requirements.
I’m always amused when I hear, “It didn’t take much time.” “It works better this way,” or “I needed to do this to make the other requirement work.” It can seem like some folks are just adding on, but it can become “gold plating.”
What most people don’t realize is that unnecessary additions, that shiny gold plate, can impact the effort.
Additions can indicate a problem with the maintenance and control of the actual project. One would wonder who’s managing the project and making sure there are no negative impacts, or false positive ones.
That gold has a cost. It can increase the maintenance depending on the type of gold plating done, but it can also reduce quality by taking appropriate time away from scope that has yet to be completed and causing team members to take shortcuts.
Here are a few reasons why we succumb to the shine.
1) We can get fascinated by new technologies and want to try them out. We don’t always know if they can deliver, but boy do we want to try slick new things.
2) Making some assumptions regarding the stated requirements and creating more than asked for which is often a personal opinion or gain item
3) Some would even say that refactoring code could be considered gold plating but it’s a fine line. I would say that it is, unless it’s considered part of the functional and technical requirements scope document.
How to stop yourself from gilding the lily.
1) Know your scope. As the PM, you should know the scope of the work. I’m not suggesting you know the technical details, but you should be able to manage a high level discussion. It’s good to know functional requirements too, although you should be able to lean on the analyst for that information. Either way, arm yourself with the knowledge to help direct the effort.
2) Stay in touch with the development team and decisions they are making. You need to depend on the Tech Lead to ensure gold plating is not happening.
3) Request demos as often as it makes sense. Always stay in touch with what the team is developing visually. If you know the scope, you should be able to do a quick visual check on the code. You may not always be able to do this, depending on the stage of development, but it’s an option.