Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Gold plating = Cost injection

Problem: Gold plating of your product is expensive.

Ever experienced that features are added in your product without any adding any real value? If yes then you have probably been gold plating that delivery of yours. Gold plating is done with the best of intentions and most of the time is appreciated by the customer. However, there are many cases where it is not liked and the gold plating is backfires on your product.

Solution: Stick to implementing approved features.

Usually gold plating is introduced either by the project team or by a project manager, at no cost to the customer. Gold plating does not come cheap however! It can increase operation and maintenance costs significantly and will make a dent in quality. The reason is that it raises complexity, introduces features that are not traceable and operates on the outside of the feature approval process – In other words it is a risk that needs to be mitigated.

Although, gold plating sounds good to everyone, it is bad for the project team in the long run. Gold plating increases the development cost, raises the expectation of the customer by inflating the feature per hour / story-point of development. If you do another project for the same customer, he would again expect you to deliver a product with extra features.

Avoiding Gold Plating is important to stay in control of the product, and ensure that the development effort is spend on value-adding features. If you operate in an agile setup you should see gold plating as a violation of the product backlog setup and priorities. Avoiding gold plating requires discipline. It requires the team to ask themselves if they are adding unnecessary or over-engineered functionality into the application.

Start out by discussing gold plating as part of your retrospective, and the set some ground rules like:

  • Never allow add any extra function or features to a story without approval.
  • As a product managers and sales people should use the product log to add new features – not the sprint log.
  • You must establish proper communication lines within the project team, ensuring that approval from customer is achieved.

Then do a little measurement on number of features per iteration vs. number of features in the accepted sprint log. You might have gold plated the solution, but make sure that the result can still be tested, and ultimately accepted by client, otherwise you just might end up paying a very high price for the golden plates.

Happy Testing!


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