Developers are gold-plating, causing deferred bugs and extending completion of the project. Key stakeholders express pain over the duration and cost of the project. The solutions may not be the most obvious ones of stopping the gold-plating and explaining the delays. Instead, consider these three dimensions to the root cause: developer satisfaction, key stakeholder sponsorship, and schedule and budget management. I will address the first two of these dimensions in future posts, after this overview.
A project manager would be remiss if she did not accommodate the interests, strengths, and weaknesses of all team members, including the Management. The problems of gold-plating and missed expectations are big opportunities for a PM to practice this level of attention. Consider two scenarios.
The developers have the following interests and weaknesses. They are interested in and undoubtedly feel justified by the additional benefit that their gold-plating will bring in the long run. They may reject all appeals related to the risks this brings to the project. They even may be eager to sacrifice their weekends, and immediate good faith, in order to serve the common good. A weakness is that they have no stake in the business value stream. If they did they would have to weigh the benefit of additional functionality against the benefit of time to market and other business-oriented values. The PM can easily shore up this weakness by including developers in value stream mapping activities, but only after designing these to meet needs for satisfaction and maturity level for strategic thinking.
The key stakeholders are interested in projects getting done on time and under budget. They probably can tell you what “on time” and “under budget” means to them. Unfortunately, this might not come out until it is too late for the project to hit the targets. Their weakness is the inability to define “done.” No, I do not mean the criteria for functional and non-functional aspects of the project. I mean business-level user actions and system outcomes, such as use cases. In helping shore up this weakness, the PM is in unrecognizable territory. If strategic planning is not happening, where a PM might get a seat at the table, she needs to initiate it. The level of organizational maturity is another factor that makes this an awkward undertaking. However, open and frequent, in-person communication with a lot of understanding can overcome this weakness.