Santa: The Ultimate Scope Gold Plater?


Is Santa a Scope Gold Plater?

There seems to be some discrepancy between achieving scope and being a scope gold plater – which is a major “no-no” per the PMBOK® and basic project management.  This contention is normally seen when bounced against the service industry and Santa Claus and his yearly Christmas project.


Domains v/s Process Groups

In “olden times”, Santa would create his yearly project/sub-project based on the 5 process groups we have all come to know and love:


I’m sure that adhering to all the process groups and knowledge areas added a lot of overhead to Santa’s big run every year.  Just trying to keep up with all the logs, matrices and registers that need to be created based on a regimented methodology of project management would be a nightmare to say the least.  I believe Santa figured this out as well and most likely started a more agile/hybrid way of doing things – perhaps even sooner than PMI® came out with their 3 domains for running projects (and changing their test in 2021) – People, Processes and Business Environment. 

Domain I – People


Domain I is all about creating and maintaining that shared vision of a project with the people participating with that project.

Starting your projects off by focusing on the people of the project and basing your activities around those people will help you throughout the project process.  Looking through the 14 tasks (below) from PMI’s® “People” domain, you’ll see that beginning a project with these in mind will bring way better results than waiting until execution to start worrying about your team.

  • Manage Conflict
  • Lead a Team
  • Support team performance
  • Empower team members and stakeholders
  • Ensure team/stakeholders are adequately trained
  • Build a team
  • Address and remove blockers to the team
  • Negotiate project agreements
  • Collaborate with Stakeholders
  • Build shared understanding
  • Engage and support virtual teams
  • Define team ground rules
  • Mentor relevant stakeholders
  • Promote team performance through EQ

Domain II Processes


Domain II is all about the technical PM skills and activities needed to manage a project to the original project benefits (you know – the “why” we started this project).

Starting your projects off by focusing on the people of the project will help you know which skills you will need to bring to the project for success (or which skills you need to hon/improve for project success).  Looking through the 17 tasks (below) from PMI’s® “Processes” domain, you will see that there is a wide variety of skills needed to help manage your people, project and deliverables.

  • Execute project with the proper urgency
  • Manage communications
  • Assess and manage risks
  • Engage stakeholders
  • Plan and manage budget and resources
  • Plan and manage schedule
  • Plan and manage quality of products/deliverables
  • Plan and manage scope (where we stop being a scope gold plater)
  • Integrate project planning
  • Manage project changes
  • Plan and manage procurement
  • Manage project artifacts
  • Determine appropriate methods and practices
  • Establish project governance structure
  • Manage project issues
  • Ensure project knowledge transfer
  • Plan and manage closures or transitions

Domain III – Business Environment

Domain III is all about having a solid understanding of the business environment and surrounding variables that can affect your project.

These environments include but are not limited to your OPAs, EEFs, PMO types, governance/compliance and change – both project and organizational change.  The 4 tasks in this domain are:

  • Plan and manage project compliance
  • Evaluate and deliver project benefits and value
  • Evaluate and address external business environment changes against Scope
  • Support organization change

Process Groups v/s Domains

As time progresses into this new domain model, I believe we will find that approaching projects with the People, Processes and Business Environment model v/s the Process Group model we have been using will give us projects more flexible in planning and execution as well as more robust to handle the unknown unknowns of running projects.


In A Nutshell…Santa Is Not A Scope Gold Plater…


So Now What?

Getting ready for the new PMI® PMP® test?  Need help in navigating the nuances, tricks and ambiguity of the exam?  Check out our course catalog for our next PMP® Prep Course here.

Bruce Jordan, Partner - Arrowhead Consulting

Bruce Jordan, Partner – Arrowhead Consulting