Anyone in the project management field has heard of gold plating. For those less familiar with the term it basically means adding features outside the original scope and requirements. Working with teams less familiar with all of the downstream impacts and risks, may think this scenario isn’t that dangerous and will help please the customer. I’m a huge proponent of serving the customer, but often times adding what seems like a small, innocent change to a waterfall led project can delay the project and what had hoped to exceed the customer expectations may end up causing more customer service issues than holding the request to a future phase.
On the other side of the equation is the removal of scope and requirements. Many times we think of a change order as an addition of a feature, but removing a feature is also a change. We can be quick to react and think that removing a feature will save us time, but again without thinking through all downstream impacts and risks, it could cause the same issues as adding a feature. Is the removal of the feature independent and not connected to any other function or system? In today’s integrated world, that is unlikely.
Another point of contention can be cases where you are using a product and customizing the product. If you wish to make a change to a standard configuration, this is a change. Just because your requirements don’t list the standard features, doesn’t mean you aren’t changing the behavior of a function. It’s pretty straightforward when you think of the standard change definition outside of the requirements or project context.
Careful change management and impact analysis is needed whether following a waterfall, agile or any hybrid method. In the agile realm, you need to control your sprint user stories and add new items or changes to the product backlog.
It can sometimes be a struggle to educate our organizations and teams on proper change handling, but one that we should continue to inform. A well executed change management plan helps ensure you meet established targets and provide committed scope.
~ Ann E. Drinkwater