Successful project management heavily relies on setting practical and achievable deliverables to guide the project and establish the stakeholders’ expectations. What exactly are project management deliverables? What are the qualities of good deliverables for specific work?
Despite the critical role of deliverables in project management, there are still many discrepancies in the interpretation of the term and confusion with seemingly similar terms like objectives and milestones but vastly different meanings.
What is a deliverable in Project Management?
Project management deliverables refer to quantifiable elements of project management that can be goods or services. These elements must be provided upon the completion of a project.
It is a specific output created as the result of the work performed during the project. For any element to be considered a deliverable in project management, it must meet a few requirements:
- It must be within the project’s scope
- Internal and external stakeholders must agree to it
- It is a result of intended and deliberate work
- It must have a definite role in completing the project’s objective.
Examples of deliverables include a proposal, design drawings, completed structures like buildings and bridges, tender documents, a website, a useability report, a marketing study, and better customer service.
Types of Deliverables
There are multiple types of deliverables depending on various factors. These include final, tangible, intangible, and process deliverables. But all can be folded into two primary types:
Internal deliverables are the part of the product the client doesn’t care about and often doesn’t get to see. But, these are still required for the project to run, although they never leave the organization. Some examples of internal deliverables include maintaining accounts and filing taxes.
An excellent example of an internal deliverable is preparing a handover document for your successor. The client might not care, but it is essential to complete the project.
These are the outputs the project delivers to external stakeholders and clients. These can be features, documentation, and functionalities that generate value.
An example of an external deliverable is creating a website audit for your client when working for an SEO agency.
4 Key Project Management deliverables
Understanding the different phases of project management ensures you have practical and effective deliverables that can be tracked throughout the project. There are only five key project management phases, each critical in its own way.
Each phase makes the project easier to plan and control. Each phase has similar tasks leading up to a major deliverable. A project milestone marks the end of each phase.
1. Initiation and conception
At this stage, the primary goal is to define the project. Depending on the nature of the project, it can start as a business case or a project charter. For projects requiring research or feasibility testing, these steps should be completed within this phase.
During the conception phase, the project stakeholders play a critical role in deciding whether the project should proceed. Once given the green light, you need to create a project initiation document outlining the purpose and requirements of the project.
The document includes, among other things, the business case, the stakeholders, and business needs. Although the explicit goal of the project is defined and established in this phase, there are no technical details that happen in the planning stage.
In most cases, the initiation or conception stage will define the project schedule and possibly the budget to complete the project.
The project planning is more comprehensive. It requires complete diligence as it involves laying out the project roadmap. Typically, this phase takes almost half of the entire project’s timespan unless you’re using modern project management methodologies like agile project management.
Top on the list of priorities is identifying technical requirements, developing detailed project schedules, setting up the goals and deliverables, and a communication plan.
There are various methods that can help set up the project’s goals. The most popular and highly recommended are S.M.A.R.T and C.L.E.A.R.
‘SMART’ is a criterion used to ensure the goals set for the project are critically analyzed. Using this approach, project managers can reduce risk and allow project managers to define achievable goals clearly.
This method also helps stakeholders to understand the implications of the goal-setting process. The acronym S.M.A.R.T stands for:
- Specific – The goals are specific and answer questions like who, what, where, which, when, and why.
- Measurable – There should be criteria for measuring the success of a goal.
- Attainable – Identify the most important goals and what it takes to achieve them.
- Realistic – The goals and deliverables should be practical and achievable with willingness and the ability to work towards a particular goal.
- Timely – Every goal should have a specific timeframe within which it should be completed.
The second method is the C.L.E.A.R method. It is a newer method and more refined, considering the fast-paced business environment of the modern world.
The CLEAR approach caters to businesses that require flexibility and immediate results. It might not apply to all projects, but the results are stunning when matched with the right project.
CLEAR stands for:
- Collaborative – The goal should encourage employees to work together towards it.
- Limited – The goal or deliverable should be limited in scope and time to keep it manageable.
- Emotional – The goal should tap into the passion of the employees. It should be something they can connect to emotionally to make it easier to optimize the quality of work.
- Appreciable – Break larger goals into smaller tasks that can be quickly achieved in the runup to the main goal.
- Refinable – As situations change and shift, you should be flexible and refine the goal to keep the project on course.
The project scope and the project management plan are developed in the planning phase. The cost, quality, available and realistic schedule are discussed in detail and identified.
At this point, the project management plan clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in the project and what they are accountable for. Some of the documents a qualified project manager will create during this phase include:
- Scope Statement – This document clearly defines the business’s needs, deliverables, key milestones, benefits of the project, and objectives. The scope statement is not static. It can change during the project. But it can only be changed with the approval of the sponsor and the project manager.
- Work Breakdown Schedule (WBS) – Usually, a visual aid breaks down the scope of the project into manageable sections for the team. When creating a WBS, it’s critical that the work packages aren’t longer than ten days. It’s vital that the project manager solicits input from the respective team members about the specific tasks before setting them out.
- Milestones – Milestones set and define the goals that should be met through the project. The milestones are also included in the Gantt chart.
- Gantt Chart – A Gantt chart is a visual timeline used to plan out tasks and visualize the project timeline.
- Communication Plan – This is highly important if the project involves outside stakeholders. A communication schedule dictates the proper messaging around the project. It also creates a schedule for communicating with the stakeholders and team members on the deliverables and milestones.
- Risk Management Plan – It’s vital to identify all the foreseeable risks. The risks can include unrealistic schedules, inaccurate cost estimates, budget cuts, changing requirements, customer review cycles, and lack of committed resources.
3. Execution and controlling
In the project execution phase, the team will develop and complete deliverables. Typically, the phase starts with a kick-off meeting highlighted by the onset of updates, status reports, and transitions into performance and monitoring as the project progresses.
Some of the tasks the team should complete during the execution phase include:
- Develop a team
- Assign resources
- Execute project management plan
- Have procurement management if necessary
- The project managers overseas and direct project execution
- Setting up a tracking system to ensure deliverables and progress stays on track
- Execution of assigned tasks
- Status meetings
- Modifying project plans accordingly
- Updating project schedules
The nature of the project can determine whether the execution and the controlling phases happen simultaneously. But in most cases, the two phases are conjoined because some of the requirements happened at the same time anyway.
The control phase aims to ensure the project results align with the management plan. The project manager will use key performance indicators to determine whether the project is on track. Some of the factors the project manager considers are:
- Project objectives – determining whether the project is on schedule and on a budget to determine if the project will meet stakeholder objectives.
- Quality deliverables – whether the specific task deliverables are met within acceptable standards.
- Effort and cost tracking – accounting for the effort and cost of resources to determine if the budget is on track. This tracking also determines whether the project will meet its completion date according to the current performance.
- Project performance – assesses changes in the project while considering the amount and types of issues that arise and how quickly they are addressed.
The last phase is holding a ‘Post mortem’ meeting to evaluate the successes and failures of the project. Closing allows teams to identify things that went well and areas for improvement.
The project manager also has a few tasks to complete at closing. These include creating a list of things that didn’t get completed during the project, assembling a team to complete them, performing a final budget, and preparing a final project report. The project manager then collects all the documents and deliverables for safe storage.
Undoubtedly, project management is a tedious and lengthy process that starts with having a qualified project manager with the right experience and training. If you have your sights set on a career as a project manager, Pathstream can help you gain the skills to become a competent project manager and create an effective career pathway for yourself. Contact us today to learn more.
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