Deliverables in Project Management
Project deliverables are outputs that can help you achieve project objectives incrementally. Whereas project milestones are checkpoints to help you and your team know that you’re going in the right direction, project deliverables are complete outputs that can stand alone. The successful submission of project deliverables is a byproduct of the proper execution of project milestones.
Plotting project deliverables effectively can give you many benefits:
- Gives you a better grasp of the work you need to do for a project
- Helps you make more accurate estimates on scope, timeline, and budget
- Allows your team to work independently
- Aligns expectations between you and your stakeholders
- Improves trust between you and your stakeholders
- Raises team morale through visible progress
Read more: What Is A Project Charter?
Examples of Project Deliverables
Project deliverables can take many forms. It can be a piece of software, equipment, a document, or a product depending on what the project requires. Here, we’ll discuss the four types of project deliverables in two pairs:
- Internal and external deliverables
- Process and product deliverables
Internal vs External Deliverables
Internal and external deliverables differ in terms of which stakeholder will receive them.
Internal deliverables are submitted to internal stakeholders, such as upper management, company shareholders, and your team.
External deliverables are those you submit to people outside your organization (external stakeholders): clients, investors, the government, suppliers, customers, media, and other relevant institutions.
Here are a few examples of deliverables categorized according to their receiving parties:
|External Deliverables||Internal Deliverables|
|Statement of work||Feasibility study|
|Pitch deck||Analytics and testing results|
|Source code||Project charter|
|Minimum viable product (MVP)||Project plan|
Process vs Product Deliverables
Product deliverables are devices, hardware, software, or systems, that (fully or partially) fulfill the project’s requirements.
Process deliverables are prerequisites that help you create the product. For example, if your product deliverable is a prototype, a process deliverable could be the organized findings of a user experience test. You’ll need the data of the process deliverable (the user experience test) to complete the product deliverable (the prototype).
Here are more examples of process and product deliverables:
|Process Deliverables||Product Deliverables|
|Mood board||Minimum viable product (MVP)|
|Project plan||Final submission|
How to Plan Your Project Deliverables in 5 Simple Steps
To maximize your efficiency with project deliverables, here are five steps you can take to plan them out.
1. Have a Firm Grasp of Your Project Objectives
Being clear about the problem your project is trying to solve is essential to develop the best solution. Doing this will help you and your team prioritize tasks and features. It’ll also help you identify the types of outputs your stakeholders want. This makes progress visible and increases stakeholder confidence in your work as you proceed.
2. Identify Your Project Milestones and Outputs
Once you clarify your end goal, work backward and think about the steps you must take to get there. In short: Plot your project milestones and corresponding project deliverables. Not every milestone will yield a deliverable, but it would be good to devise some of them to do so. Pair each deliverable with a checklist that outlines success parameters. Be sure to align with your stakeholders to ensure smooth progress and approvals.
3. Plot Your Dependencies, Timeline, and PICs
With project deliverables identified, it’s time to look into what you’ll need to prepare to complete them:
- Blockers and Dependencies: Are there resources, devices, approvals, or other deliverables required to progress?
- Timeline: When are you planning to complete and submit each deliverable?
- Persons in Charge (PICs): Who are your main point people for each project deliverable?
Try to preemptively anticipate possible process interruptions to avoid blockers that will stall progress. Organize tasks, milestones, and deliverables into a timeline to align your team on your priorities along every point in time. This will also give your stakeholders an idea of when they to expect updates. Sharing responsibility and accountability is a good way to empower your team to work independently.
4. Set Up Trackers and Workflow
Plans are nothing without good execution. Devise trackers your team can use to set priorities, update progress in real-time, and flag issues if there are any. Consider looking into project management tools or creating customized databases with software you and your teams are comfortable with. Then agree on how you’ll all communicate, and align with your stakeholders on how often you’ll send them updates. Having these in place can help minimize decision fatigue and promote a healthy culture of collaboration.
5. Allot Checkpoints for Evaluation and Improvement
Upon submitting a deliverable, take the time to debrief and evaluate:
- What you did well
- What you did not do well
- What you can improve
- What did you accomplish
- How did this deliverable get you closer to your overall goal
This step is often overlooked, because it’s perceived to be taking time away from “actual” work. But as a project manager, think of it as an investment towards constant improvement. It can also be an opportunity to bring up issues best resolved as soon as possible. You don’t have to do a full project retrospective all the time. But done right, taking small moments to reflect and process can have a massive impact on your team’s rapport and productivity in the long run.
Project deliverables are outputs that your team can produce to achieve your objectives. Identifying them ahead of time can help your team focus, work independently, and sustain a good relationship with your stakeholders. Most importantly, progressive evaluation and feedback can help you ensure quality at every step of the process.
Read next: 5 Phases of Project Management (PMP)