Change within a project can occur from a variety of sources. PMI specifically lists the following:
External Events That Cause Change
These events could include any event external to the project that causes a change in the direction or scope of the project. Examples include changes in corporate strategy, changes in project scope, and any new law that requires a product to conform to a specification not targeted in the project. It could also include something as dramatic as the World Trade Center tragedy.
Errors and Omissions That Cause Change
Errors committed and omissions of critical items are the most likely reasons for change in the real world, although PMI strongly encourages excellent planning to prevent errors and omissions. However, they do occur and sometimes are only known when a project plan is being further elaborated in a technical design. Occasionally, a business requirement is missed and needs to be added in.
Value-Adding Change Versus Gold Plating
A value-added change is a change that adds to the return on investment (ROI) of a project. This can be a simple additional feature or a scope change. This involves payback analysis and the determination of costs in order to make informed decisions. For example, a customer might decide to choose high-speed Internet service over conventional dial-up service in order to enhance productivity and profitability. Ultimately this information could be quantified to determine the effectiveness of the change.
Gold plating, on the other hand, is the addition of features that are not within the scope of the project and are not requested. They do not add value. Although they might be technically good ideas, they often add unexpected costs and risk to a project. PMI discourages gold plating because it involves activities outside the scope of the project.
An example of gold plating would be providing additional reports or information not originally part of the scope of the project. These types of changes should be monitored and controlled so they do not add to the cost of the project.