In this post, we’ll clearly define what project deliverables are, how to specify them for your company, and a four-step process to manage them like a pro.
Then we’ll show you a few red-hot examples to really bring our points home.
Let’s dive in!
So… What’s A Project Deliverable?
It’s important we start this post off on the right foot. A project deliverable might not be what you think it is. Then again, you may already have the perfect definition in mind. But we can’t be sure until we lay out the proper definition. Here it goes:
According to the good folks at Workamajig, a project deliverable is “a specific output created as a result of work performed during the course of a project.” That’s a neat and tidy definition.
A project deliverable must meet specific criteria. Namely, it must:
- Be within a project’s scope. Any work that neglects budgetary or time constraints can’t accurately be classified as a project deliverable.
- Be agreed to by all stakeholders. There’s no “lone wolfing” it when it comes to project deliverables. You must have buy-in.
- Be deliberately created. Willy-nilly, seat-of-your-pants kind of stuff doesn’t meet project deliverable criteria, partner.
- Actively work towards accomplishing a project. These are project deliverables, after all. If it doesn’t help accomplish a project, call it something else.
Project deliverables could be almost anything as long as they meet the criteria above.
For example, if your company is marketing a new product, a social media plan is a possible project deliverable. Design sketches for the website’s sales page are not, though, because the project can be accomplished without them. Make sense?
Internal and External Deliverables
It’s helpful to separate project deliverables into two categories: internal and external.
An internal deliverable is work that is done for the benefit of the business doing it, not it’s customers or clients. On the contrary, an external deliverable is client work or work done to win more clients.
Let’s play a quick game.
Creating your company’s quarterly budget sheet would be an internal or external deliverable? If you said, internal, you win the prize.
What about crafting social media posts for your marketing agency’s top client? That would be classified as an external project deliverable.
If you ever have trouble determining whether a particular deliverable is internal or external, just ask yourself if it’s directly involved in generating revenue. If the answer is yes, it’s probably external.
So Project Deliverables and Milestones Are the Same?
Not so, friend, though we understand why you might think that. Milestones simply track progress on a project. Like specific landmarks on a cross-country road trip.
When driving from Sacramento, CA to Los Angeles, CA, you’ll pass along the Grapevine — a stretch of freeway that cuts through the Grapevine Canyon and ascends to the Tejon Pass. This is considered a landmark to many drivers. A milestone, if you will.
But the Grapevine doesn’t have any direct effect on whether you reach your final destination or how quickly you’ll get there.
On the other hand, ensuring your car’s tank is full of gas, maintaining a steady speed, and not running into fellow drivers will enable you to reach your desired location in a timely manner. These, then, can be compared to project deliverables.
Project deliverables are tangible initiatives that must be achieved in order for a project to come to fruition. Milestones simply mark progress. Got it? Good. Moving on…
The Difference Between Process and Project Deliverables
There’s one more distinction we need to make before we carry on: the difference between process and project deliverables. You already understand the latter.
Process deliverables are what enables workers to complete project deliverables. They’re the path. How about another example?
Let’s say your company is interested in building a new CRM software. You’ve been tasked with managing the project.
To do so, you first create a project charter that outlines the objectives, schedule, costs and potential risks of the project, as well as the stakeholders involved.
This document would be considered a process deliverable. It isn’t a customer facing project. It also isn’t a tangible step forward in the app building process. Rather, it was created solely for your team in order to better understand the project as a whole.
Process deliverables are never the goal of the project. They simply help you achieve it.
Defining Project Deliverables for Your Company
The defining process becomes much easier when we work backward from the overall objective.
What’s the goal of your current project? Maybe you’re building a new website for a client. Perhaps you’re implementing a new software system into your company’s workflow.
Whatever you’re working on, start with the end goal. Then decide what needs to happen in order for your company to achieve it. Each of these steps will become a project deliverable with its own set of requirements for completion.
Next, define what an acceptable deliverable looks like.
What quality standards do you have?
When is each one due?
The more detail you can give your deliverables, the better. It will ensure that specific standards are always met.
Finally, make sure that each project deliverable fits within the predefined scope and budget, and that you get the appropriate approval from management (if needed) before moving forward.
This simple process will help you accurately define the right deliverables for your project and ensure that they all meet company standards.
Manage Your Project Deliverables Like a Pro
At this point, we understand what project deliverables are and we’ve outlined a simple process you can use to define them for your company. Now let’s talk management. This is key. Poor management of deliverables will derail the entire project.
#1 Organize Your Deliverables
First, we recommend you segment all your deliverables into different project phases. Meaning, separate deliverables to be completed in the beginning, middle, and end of the project. This will help you keep better track of what needs to get done and when.
#2 Set Specific Standards
Second, ensure that all participants understand what is required to achieve an acceptable project deliverable. You’ve heard the old saying, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” There’s also more than one way to complete a project.
But your company and the customers you serve will probably have something specific in mind. Make sure that the desired end result is understood and that deliverables are completed to the standard they should be.
#3 Schedule Appropriately
Next, assign each project deliverable a due date and owner. When should each of them be completed? Which team members will be working on which deliverables? Keep track of these details in your project plan and/or software.
#4 Routinely Track Progress
Once the plan has been set in motion, you need to constantly monitor progress. Put away those bonbons and get back to work! Is your team shipping the project deliverables on time? If they’ve hit a challenge, what’s the solution?
You need to be proactive. Make sure both due dates and quality standards are met. Keep your team motivated and engaged. The success of each project ultimately falls on you.
A Few Examples of Project Deliverables
Like we mentioned before, project deliverables come in all shapes and sizes. They can literally be just about anything. But let’s focus on a few of the more common ones.
A Website Wireframe
If you’d rather surf websites than build them, we’re right there with you! So the term “website wireframe” may not ring a bell. That’s completely understandable. Luckily we’re here to satisfy your doubtlessly mounting curiosity.
A website wireframe is a visual guide representing a website’s structure. They’re commonly referred to as page schematics or screen blueprints in the coding world.
Let’s say your organization has been tasked with building a brand-spankin’ new website for a client. They want a completely custom job, done up with an ecommerce store, blog, and a bunch of other bells and whistles.
It’s going to look amazing! But it will take time and many different steps to be completed along the way. One of those steps is the creation of the wireframe, which is an important project deliverable.
An Ebook or Whitepaper
Content marketing is all the rage these days. Mostly because, when it’s done correctly, it’s the best way to market a company.
With that in mind, business X operates in the fitness and health industry. They’ve been working on a new supplement for over a year now and are beyond excited to release it. In order to help market the new product, they’ve decided to release an ebook on clean eating.
Once the ebook has been written, edited, and designed, it can be turned in and considered a successful project deliverable because it’s a crucial step in achieving the company’s big, overarching goal: marketing their new supplement product.
A Gap Analysis
Yay, more definitions! If you have yet to be introduced to the gap analysis, let us quickly educate your brain.
A gap analysis is a process that involves comparing current performance with desired performance. It helps a company see where it can improve.
If your organization wanted to increase performance in a particular area, a gap analysis would be a much-needed project deliverable.
Other Various Reports or Studies
Finally, there are many other reports and essays that could be considered project deliverables depending on the company they’re created for.
A report on social media statistics in 2018 could be a project deliverable if it was created for a client as a part of the marketing services they purchased from your company.
A study to gather facts on your organization’s unique audience could be a project deliverable if the big, overarching goal is to update your brand’s marketing approach.
We have thoroughly covered this topic and you can now confidently say that you truly understand the ins and outs of project deliverables.
Before you start your next project, first define what each deliverable will be. Make sure to include quality standards and due dates. During the management phase, ensure that each deliverable is submitted on time and the standards you outlined are being met.