Gold Plating in Project Management: Definition and Ways To Prevent

What does gold plating mean in project management? In project management, gold plating refers to adding a feature or service to a project that management or the client hasn’t asked for. In gold plating, the project manager or a team member decides to add a feature on their own that wasn’t requested.
  1. Set a standard: never allow team members to add extra features without client approval and a PMP-approved review of how they will affect the project.
  2. Follow PMP procedure: establish steps for if team members think additional work is needed outside of the original project scope.

Gold Plating in Project Management (PMP)

What causes gold plating in project management?

In project management, gold plating typically results from decision-making by project managers or team members to provide the client with additional benefits. Although it is usually their intention to add something useful for the client, if it is not a feature that the client has requested, they might not want to pay more for that feature. If a client doesn’t pay for an extra feature, the project manager’s business will bear the cost, which could lead to other issues.

In an effort to make the client happier with the project overall, project managers frequently add gold plating; however, in some cases, the time, money, and effort may not be worthwhile. Gold plating is frequently taught to project managers, especially those with certifications, as something you should never do. However, gold plating might initially seem like a reasonable addition to the project if the chance arises.

What does gold plating mean in project management?

The term “gold plating” in project management describes the addition of a feature or service to a project that neither management nor the client requested. When a project manager or team member decides to add a feature that wasn’t requested, this practice is known as “gold plating.” Because it wasn’t specifically requested, adding gold plating can increase a project’s cost and completion time, and its value isn’t high. This is usually referred to as diminishing returns.

Difference between gold plating and scope creep

In some ways, gold plating and scope creep are similar, especially since both involve the addition of features that weren’t part of the project’s original scope. However, scope creep occurs when the client requests more features or a bigger project at the same price and time frame, expanding the project’s scope.

The client directs scope creep, and the project manager or a team member typically adds gold plating. If the terms of the project agreement aren’t updated, the project manager’s company could be held accountable for paying the costs associated with added features or services in both cases of scope creep and gold plating.

Ways to prevent gold plating

The following are some methods to stop your projects from being gold-plated:

Communicate clearly

Maintaining open lines of communication with everyone involved in a project is one of the best ways to avoid gold plating. If you and your client are communicating well, you should be able to gauge their expectations and level of interest in additional features. It is not gold plating if you ask a client if they want a feature your team is talking about and they agree to pay an additional fee or adjust the schedule to accommodate that; rather, it is a change in the project’s scope.

If your team or the client suggests adding a new feature, being open with the client about the possibility of additional costs or the need to adjust the schedule should help you avoid problems with scope creep and gold plating. This keeps the surprise element of gold plating at bay and guarantees that your team will have extra time or funding for extra features.

Define the project

One of the best ways to prevent gold plating in your project is to clearly define it with everyone involved. A clearly defined project keeps the team concentrated on providing the client’s exact requests without any additional gold plating. If circumstances alter as the project progresses, you can consult with the client, management, and your team to decide the best course of action. This might entail redefining the project so that you are aware of what to anticipate before moving forward. Adding gold plating to projects that aren’t clearly defined might be simpler.

One of your responsibilities as a project manager is to maintain your team’s focus on the clearly defined project scope. This ensures that you are giving the client everything they requested and helps you avoid any gold plating issues.

Redirect resources

A team member suggesting an extra feature after finishing all of their tasks is a typical example of gold plating. If this happens on one of your projects, you might find it helpful to reroute those resources—in this case, your staff members. The team member might be assigned a different task that falls under the project’s stated parameters, or you might even find them work on a different project.

Similar to this, if your team determines that the client has paid you for a certain number of hours of work but you can finish the project in less time, you might think you could add a feature in the hours still available. But since your client isn’t paying you to do this, it’s best to use that time to finish the project as they’ve specified it. Giving the client what they requested, or as close to it as you can with your resources, should always be your top priority.


What does gold plating mean in project management?

The practice of making changes to a project that are outside of its initially agreed-upon scope is known as gold plating. Gold plating takes time. The practice is very comparable to feature creep, which entails adding improvements to a project at the client’s request.

Is gold plating good or bad in project management?

For various project management best practices and methodologies, including Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and PRINCE2, gold plating is also regarded as a bad project management practice.

What is the difference between scope creep and gold plating?

The difference between scope creep and gold plating is that while scope creep typically happens when the client or other stakeholders ask for a scope expansion, gold plating occurs when the project team voluntarily adds extras without the client asking for them.

How do you deal with gold plating?

Gold plating refers to adding extra features that were not part of the product scope.

How to Avoid Gold Plating
  1. Never let team members add extra features to the product without getting permission.
  2. As a project manager, just avoid it.
  3. Establish open communication lines within the team.

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