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What are project deliverables?

Last updated

22 April 2023

Reviewed by

Jean Kaluza

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In today's project-based and gig-friendly environment, businesses seek new research methods and improved audience understanding. More importantly, there’s a growing need for project management insights that elevate project deliverables. 

If you need clarification about project deliverables, this is a must-read. 

We'll explore project deliverable examples, benefits, and how-to instructions to show how today's project managers can deliver. While there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for project deliverables, essential elements and strategies ensure success.

Deliverables in project management

Officially, project deliverables are any elements of output within the scope of a project. They can be documents and reports that capture relevant project progress data. 

Project deliverables can outline time, budget, resources, and efforts up to any point in the project’s lifecycle. They're snapshots of progress or final products for stakeholders and clients.

Objective vs. deliverable

Objectives are different from deliverables. As a project manager (PM), you'll use objectives to define outcomes or improvements you anticipate from the project. 

For example, objective statements typically use words like "increase," "reduce," or "to obtain." 

On the other hand, deliverables represent the tangible reports, products, or metrics that team members produce as work on the project continues.

Milestone vs. deliverable

A project deliverable and a milestone are two different concepts. 

A milestone marks a specific point within the project's timeline that indicates something significant. For example, your project might have phases. A milestone would be concluding phase one to then embark on phase two. 

Project deliverables are output documents throughout the project.

Types of deliverables

A project deliverable can be any tangible action item or progress benchmark throughout the work. And deliverables can be in many forms:

Internal vs. external project deliverables

Project deliverables can involve internal and external stakeholders

For example, internal company projects or work may require routine reporting to key managers or company leaders. It could also include cross-functional requirements like design deliverables to development teams. 

External projects involving clients or other stakeholders will also require updates and reporting via project deliverables. 

Planning deliverables

As the project manager, you'll carefully plan every project phase. Relevant steps include: 

  • Creating a timeline outlining the frequency of accomplishing objectives and goals

  • Collecting and analyzing data to share with your stakeholders. Documents might include: 

    • Roadmaps

    • Timeline charts

    • Blueprints

    • Scope of work (SOW) outlines

Process deliverables vs. product deliverables

Consider separating your deliverables into segments, including process and product deliverables. 

A process deliverable describes the route you take to achieve a result. Those processes might include planning, data sharing, and document creation.

The product deliverable is the physical elements your project plans to deliver upon completion. 

For example, if the product deliverable is to launch a website, one of the process deliverables might be to review the proposed UI design.

Project vs. product deliverables

There are distinctions between project deliverables and product deliverables. 

As the name implies, product deliverables are products. These can be hardware, contracts, results, or digital products like apps. 

Product deliverables typically represent the finalized product and a completed project. 

Project deliverables are outputs that represent the project’s progress, like plans, reports, and meeting itineraries. 

Using the website analogy again, if the product deliverable is to launch a website, the project deliverables might be: 

  • Timesheets for contractors

  • Schedules for each phase of development

  • A report outlining software tools for the process

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Examples of project deliverables from teams

As the project manager, you'll want to curate project deliverables from each team within the project scope. 

Here are some examples of project deliverables and their relevant teams:

Creative teams

Some examples of project deliverables from the creative team might include: 

  • Finalized media graphics

  • Illustrations for a blog post as part of a marketing project

  • A completed website design for a site-building project

Product teams

Project managers can provide product teams with a project requirements document (PRD). Product teams may work from a user testing report or product presentation. They’ll deliver everything from research to the final product.

Marketing teams

Marketing teams working on your project will often submit: 

  • Drafted sales copy

  • Logo and branding guidelines

  • Keyword and SEO reports

  • Brand awareness packages 

Development teams

Development teams are highly technical, so they can deliver several crucial elements: 

  • System requirements

  • Documentation

  • Testing documentation and results if the project includes quality assurance

Ultimately, product delivery would include the code and system necessary to execute the project’s software.

The project manager's role in creating deliverables

Typically, the project manager oversees the assembly and submission of project deliverables. 

The PM will initiate and collect the various reports, including timesheet reports, project status reports, and product deliverables like designs and development handoffs. 

The PM is responsible for creating the project deliverables in the preferred format to present to clients and stakeholders across a pre-determined timeline.

How to define key project deliverables

Project managers can define key project deliverables for each new project. While deliverables vary, following this list of best practices will help you determine the focal point every time.

Ask the right questions

Start by creating a thorough questionnaire to discuss with your clients and stakeholders. 

Asking the right questions will ensure you create the right flow of reports and deliverables. 

Ask stakeholders about: 

  • Timing

  • Communication preferences

  • Prioritized project metrics

  • Scope

Gather requirements

In addition to inquiring about preferences, create a template and checklist that outline the project requirements. This list means you won't accidentally overlook any key elements. 

Include a client sign-off at this step to avoid “scope creep.” This can result in expectations becoming a moving target, unexpected adjustments to development work, and code debt. 

Without defining and agreeing on requirements, it’s all too easy to break budgets and contracts. 

Identify KPIs

As a project manager, your success depends on each project's KPIs (key performance indicators). Before creating a process for project deliverables, identify your KPIs and use them to filter your deliverables accordingly. 

This will strengthen every aspect of your product deliverables by clearly defining success for the client and ensuring direction and autonomy for the contractor.

Review and approve

When you send a project deliverable to your client or primary stakeholder, confirm review and seek approvals before continuing. 

Establish upfront what those reviews and confirmations will be, including timelines and authorized communications.

Tracking and fulfilling your project deliverables

In addition to developing and delivering your project deliverables, you'll need a data tracking and fulfillment process. This is crucial in establishing a successful deliverables schedule.

Status report

Status reports are great examples of project deliverables. Leveraging status reports illustrates to clients and stakeholders how work and timelines are proceeding according to plan. 

These reports can help you identify which of your team members has the most work. You can also spot areas of improvement in efficiency and productivity. 

People may call daily status reports “stand-ups.” The name comes from attendees standing up, giving 1–2 sentence updates about project progress, and quickly adjourning to continue work. 

Regular status reports can reduce surprises and highlight hiccups before they become real issues.

Variance report

Another piece in the project deliverables library is the variance report. 

These customized documents are great for: 

  • Summarizing tasks

  • Establishing completion percentages

  • Predicting timeline progress

It's often a side-by-side listing showing where the project is compared to where you projected. 

Timesheet report

Timesheet reports are also great examples of project deliverables. 

These documents usually outline each worker’s hours on a particular project. These reports can help you gauge task priorities. 

In addition to submitting hours worked, timesheet reports are essential for calculating the project’s time, costs, and resources.

Can project deliverables change during a project?

If you're a project manager in any capacity, you know something will inevitably change throughout a project. Project deliverables are no exception. 

Monitor for scope creep or instances when your project takes on more requirements, necessitating a larger project than intended. 

And should your project evolve to add any work, you should adjust the frequency and content of your project deliverables accordingly.

How to present deliverables to stakeholders

Whoever your key stakeholders or clients are, they'll want deliverables throughout the project. 

While stakeholders may have varied requirements, certain tools can ensure you deliver the right project deliverables. 

To meet differing client needs, tap into a great project management software solution that allows you to customize and filter data.

Here are a few project management tools to explore:

  • ProjectManager

  • GanttCharts

  • Kanban Boards

  • Project Calendars

Here are software tools to consider that will help you share deliverables with key stakeholders:

  • ClickUp

  • Notion

  • Jira

  • Confluence

  • Trello

  • Basecamp

Once you can track and manage the data your clients and stakeholders want, you can create a process for collating a presentable series of project deliverables. 

Verify if your clients prefer certain document types, like pdf or PowerPoint. And use their preferred frequency and channels, too. 

For example, you might have one set of project deliverables going out weekly via email. Another project might require monthly deliverables for a meeting. 

FAQs

What are the four main phases of project delivery?

The four primary phases of project delivery typically include initiating, planning, executing, and closing. Other benchmarks include monitoring and controlling phases.

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