What is Deliverables in Project Management

What is Deliverables in Project Management?

Last updated on 13th Oct 2020, Artciles, Blog

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A Complete Guide to Project Deliverables

You must have come across the term “deliverable”, no matter your industry. It can be as big as a constructed house or as simple as a website copy. It can also be a product, an app, training, or even documentation.

All projects have deliverables. And turning over the deliverables to your client indicates the completion of your project. They serve to clarify the project’s objectives and the activities required to get there. Project deliverables are vital components in the project management process because they let the project manager, clients, and other stakeholders know that the team is making progress.

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What are project deliverables?

The project deliverable is a specific output element that’s a result of deliberate work done during the project. A deliverable must be within the scope of the project and it should have a definite role in accomplishing the project’s objectives.

The deliverables can be the primary objective of the project itself, specific features and functionalities, as well as the documentation that arise out of the processes in the project. This includes the signed contracts, the project plan, the expense statements, and reports that show how the project is moving forward.

Deliverable vs objective vs milestone

The project objectives define the benefits, outcomes, and performance improvements that are expected from the project. The objectives focus on things that are external to the project. Deliverables are the specific, tangible things produced that enable the objectives to be achieved.

For example, if the objective of a project is making online sales, then one of the deliverables is the website.

The important distinction between milestones and deliverables is that project milestones don’t require something to be delivered to both clients and internal stakeholders. They’re checkpoints in the course of the project and are usually the threshold to a new phase. The completion of a house’s foundation is a milestone as it’s not delivered to the client.

Types of project deliverables

Project deliverables can be created for both internal and external stakeholders. They are dependent on other deliverables at times. Also, a single deliverable can have several of its own deliverables stacked underneath it. Sometimes deliverables can also be intangible. For example, when you conduct a training program for the project teams so they can start working on it.

Primarily, they’re classified based on the project stakeholders and the type:

  • Internal deliverables: These are the part of the product the client usually doesn’t care about. But, these are required for the project to run and never leave your organization. Activities like filing taxes and maintaining accounts are internal deliverables that are required to run the business.
  • External deliverables: These are the outputs the project delivers to external stakeholders and clients. These could be features, functionalities, and documentation that actually generate revenue.
  • Planning deliverables: Planning deliverables include documentation like the project scope, the charter, the project schedule, budgets, and other artifacts.

4 steps to define a project deliverable

Since objectives and deliverables are intrinsically linked, it’s best to work backward from the objectives. Identifying what’s expected of the project can help you identify and define the specific tasks that need to be done.

Here are the four steps to defining a deliverable in project management:

1. Ask the right questions

Take a step back and look at the big picture. You’ll already have critical information like the higher-level goals of the project and the measure of success. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the purpose of the project?
  • What does the client hope to achieve?
  • What do you need to produce to achieve this objective? And how?
  • What will be the cost and duration?
  • How important is this part to the overall success of your project

This, by no means, is an exhaustive list of questions. But, this should help you get started in the right direction.

2. Gather the requirements

Answering these questions should have left you with a better understanding of the tasks you need to complete. You’ll have a primitive form of a deliverable and it’s now time to define the requirements for each deliverable.

Requirements specify the criteria for whether a deliverable is acceptable or not. Incomplete requirements mean there are going to be change requests and revisions that will essentially lead to scope creep.

You’d need to find the right stakeholder and what their priorities are for this deliverable. It’s also important to consider the end-users and what will make it a success for them.

3. Identify the KPIs

This is the stage the project manager delves deep into each deliverable and ensures that they are accurate and feasible. You can do this by breaking the deliverables into phases and smaller chunks. This has a two-pronged advantage:

  • The whole project becomes way more manageable
  • Develop a project timeline while better defining the deliverables

Now, develop the guiding metrics, deadlines, and goals for each phase. It’s important to establish these metrics while keeping the project scope and budget in mind.

4. Review and approve

Once the deliverables are defined and the KPIs are identified, it’s crucial to work with relevant stakeholders, review, and get them approved. Overlooking any of these will affect the quality of the project’s outcome and increase costs.

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How to manage project deliverables – Key tips

Deliverables are a result of deliberate work and that means they must be specific and measurable. If you’re managing a fairly large project, chances are that there are going to be several deliverables. You need to track and manage them for your project to be successful.

Here are some of the tips on how to manage deliverables in project management:

  • Identify and define deliverables along with their requirements before your team starts working. When you add new deliverables in the middle of the project, it can change the scape and add to your budget.
  • Involve all key stakeholders while defining deliverables. Get their inputs and their acceptance criteria.
  • Monitor the progress with recurring meetings so you can identify red flags early on. This will help your team pace themselves and course-correct if they’re falling behind.
  • Use good project management software to keep track of tasks, deliverables, and milestones.

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