Project Management guide
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What is a Deliverable in Project Management?

A deliverable is an element of output within the scope of a project. It is the result of objective-focused work completed within the project process.

Deliverables in project management can be internal or external. An internal deliverable is work undertaken within your company — it is not seen by people outside the organization. An external deliverable is work done for a client, customer, or stakeholder with the goal of generating revenue. Either way, it usually means that the individual is expecting the deliverable on a certain date. 

Project deliverables are often linked to objectives, but there is a clear difference between the two. A deliverable is an actual item created to advance a project, whereas an objective is an overall goal. So, if you wanted to gain more insights into your market base, that would be an objective. If you prepared a report to achieve this objective, that would be a deliverable. 

Similarly, a deliverable is not to be confused with a milestone. A milestone is a specific marker or point in a project when you have achieved something significant. When a milestone is reached in a project, you can simply transition to the next stage. With a deliverable, however, you have to submit the end result to an individual or team.

There can be one or several deliverables within a single project. When a deliverable is sent, that means a big deadline or milestone has been met. Often, project deliverables are dependent on another deliverable being completed first. This is common when managing a project with multiple milestones, such as events. These interlinked deliverables can be easily mapped using a Gantt chart, which automatically updates dependencies when you make changes to a project deadline.

To sum up, deliverables in project management are tangible action items that must be delivered in order to successfully complete a project.

What are examples of project deliverables?

As outlined above, project deliverables can be both internal and external. Here is an example of each one:

  • Internal: You are leaving your current role, and your HR supervisor asks you to prepare a handover document for your successor. This document is an internal deliverable.
  • External: You are working for an SEO agency, and you create a website audit for your client to optimize their SEO practices. This audit is an external deliverable.

When are project deliverables agreed upon?

Project deliverables are typically agreed upon in the early stages of planning, usually within a project management plan. This is because deliverables are closely linked to objectives, and the two will combine when a company sets out its OKRs before commencing work on a project. 

According to CIO.com, inaccurately defined deliverables are a massive risk factor for project failure. This is why it’s important for project managers to establish accurate, measurable, and high-quality deliverables at the very beginning of a project. Once these are in place, the path to project success will be clear.

Can project deliverables change during a project?

Many things can happen over the course of a project, and deliverables can vary slightly as a result. The key here is to monitor any risk for scope creep and effectively manage any changes to ensure the project stays on track. This could mean increasing the number of project deliverables originally set out in the planning stage.

By compiling regular reports, a project manager can track project deliverables and share changes with stakeholders. That’s why it is important to use versatile project management software so any changes can be made easily and communicated quickly.

Who oversees project delivery?

Although there may be a full team working together towards one deliverable, the project manager oversees project delivery. It is their job to monitor progress and ensure that all project deliverables, both large and small, are met within the deadlines. The project manager’s overall responsibility is to supervise the project throughout its various stages and execute a successful outcome.

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