Every project necessary includes decision-making, having a strong methodology, managing the bond with stakeholders, creating deliverables, and then handing work packages over to the client, or customer. Some big projects can require a truly unfathomable amount of deliverables, and some of these can even be asked to be re-done if they are not what the client expected or the project manager is not satisfied with its quality. Sometimes project teams can become lost in a web of convoluted project planning and a myriad of different versions of the same deliverable.
Having the same object in different formats, running through several and separate channels can be an absolute headache for team members and project managers. How can you avoid this chaos? Let’s take a closer look at how you can reduce these issues.
Planning the project
Before going into deliverables as a whole affair, we need to backtrack a little bit. Project deliverables are a result of a bigger sequence of events and respond to a bigger set of goals. They are the visible outcome of a lot of hours of work and effort. The first step into lowering the number of iterations is creating an efficient project plan that will satisfy the client or customer while staying within the budget and allowing for a steady workflow from the team tasked with carrying it out.
A victorious project needs to meet the following criteria:
- Deliver the requested outcome from the client or organization that solicited the project.
- Work together with any collaborators needed if the in-house talent is unable to perform specific tasks.
- Keep the stakeholders, or even the consortium partners, informed and satisfied with the progress.
- Create deliverables that reach the quality standards set by the client and the project supervisor.
- Supply said deliverables inside the pre-established start dates and deadlines
- Manage the budget effectively.
- Manage all the resources the company provides, not only the financial ones.
- Adapt to changes without straying from the initial goal.
- Implement a risk management plan.
- Take care of the talent carrying out the tasks, and avoid oversaturation.
- Be careful and understanding of the client’s vision, avoid re-works born out of miscommunication.
What is a deliverable?
Deliverables are project results that will be delivered to the client or project solicitor. They are tangible, measurable, and/or verified results, items, or outcomes that must be produced or completed in order to reach a project milestone inside the bigger project lifecycle. They are the necessary steps a team must take in order to reach bigger and longer goals. Breaking down complex projects into smaller pieces helps make these types of projects more doable and easily managed.
We could use building a bridge for example, or carrying out a year-long digital marketing campaign. In both of these scenarios, there will be smaller objects created and observed before a team can claim they have managed to finish their mission. The nature of the milestones will be different in theme but not, in theory, a team needs to break ground, then build the foundation, and so on. These milestones will have due dates, in which the client and stakeholders can expect some sort of deliverable, for example, the foundation, or complete research of a target audience for a brand.
Deliverables are created through the project in order to dispense the necessary output and impact. To ensure the quality standards there needs to be an internal review process clearly defined in the project plan. The goal of this is to establish an internal feedback baseline by people who are not directly involved in creating the deliverables, so they can be evaluated before being submitted. The due dates need to be transparently informed to team members, with clear dependencies between tasks and deliverables. This will help maintain deadlines and simplify scheduling between the PM and the team members. Doing a detailed deliverable plan will ultimately be helpful if there’s any need for outsourcing tasks, letting the team plan in advance, and assure external collaborators’ procurement.
Why are deliverables important?
As we mentioned before, a neatly built project plan is instrumental in any successful project. Deliverables play the main role in developing and maintaining said project on track. We could think of them as units of progress or completion. Because no matter how many hours of effort and work your team has invested, in the client’s eyes there’s nothing done until they can see results until they get a deliverable.
They are not only significant as a backbone for project management, but for cultivating a transparent relationship with the client and increasing their trust in your operation. Deliverables become the presentation card for your business’s service or products; their quality will become an abstraction of your business’s caliber in your specific industry, their timely delivery a sign of your work ethic, and their effectiveness an indication that you are able to create a client’s vision. If deliverables are not up to standards, then your company is not up to the task, it’s going to win validation from clients or peers.
This is why deliverables need to be the focal aspect of running a project phase. All of the tasks that were assigned in the initiation phase of a project usually amount to or are directly tied to producing deliverables. If there are any chores that do not tangentially contribute to this may need to be examined, and restructured if they are not necessary.
Types of deliverables
Nowadays even simple or straightforward projects will most likely produce several types of deliverables. If it’s a small project that will be over in a month it may also require additional products, like financial analysis, or quality reports.
Most commonly projects will have recurring deliverables, like weekly status reports, risk assessments, handed to the client at regular intervals. Other deliverables will be interim smaller inputs that will contribute to the development of a final, or one of the final, deliverables. If we go back to the bridge-building example, these last interim delñiverables could be blueprints at the starting point of the project. It will be handed to the clients for approval, as well as being a necessary part used in the building of a structure: the final deliverable.
A project lifecycle can be divided into 5 phases: initiation, planning, execution, performance/monitoring, and closure. This rings true for the construction industry, as well as the accounting one. And every phase usually requires at least some kind of deliverable, of course, is permeable to modifications depending on the client, the industry, the market, and the team.
In the initiation phase, a PM could produce a project charter or a project scope forecast. In the planning phase, the team could produce a stakeholder list, the action plan, a risk log, define the key performance indicators (KPIs), a profitability estimation, and generate a Work Breakdown Structure. We covered the executing phase before, these are the deliverable number that we are used to, the parts of the product or services provided. In the monitoring phase, the team could deliver status reports and/or project updates. By the closing phase, there can be a project overview presentation, a retrospective analysis, and a final report or success assessment.
The deliverables that are industry-specific will be developed during the execution phase. In the marketing and advertising industry, these can be a definition of a campaign and the relative metrics, a brand strategy report. For software developing companies they could look like test scripts, executable coding, or test results. In the construction industry, they could be blueprints, 3D renderings, site analysis, and surveys.
Although Project Managers work hard, sometimes circumstances change and projects need to be modified. That’s why reviews and quality tests need to be run throughout the project’s lifecycle, they serve as a barrier between the client and the raw deliverables. There needs to be a certain time allocation to quality check alongside the project’s milestones, In the form of internal deliveries.
A good idea is to thread the review mindset into the tasks themselves. For example, a team member completes a deliverable that was assigned to them, then the project manager or whoever carries the responsibility of the whole project evaluates it, in order to see if it is the best possible version number of the product the company can produce. We recommend having the following aspects in mind while performing these quality checks:
- Its quality is consistent with the other deliverables.
- Fulfills the contractual requirements
- Is error-free
- Is aligned with the style of the project.
This can sound like a waste of time and resources. But it is vital in order to reduce the number of deliverables done, handing the client a poor quality, or a product with errors, can not only mean having to duplicate a set of deliverables and wasting a lot of time, but it can also hinder the trust the client puts in the company. Besides the obvious budget and scheduling complications, it can translate into having to dedicate resources to build the client’s conviction in the business. And that client could be lost in the future.
Different areas of the business or several departments can come together in complex projects, and this can be a wonderful resource for quality control. Using the bridge example one more time, an architect team can supervise the aesthetics aspect and the end-user friendliness, while a group of engineers makes sure the structure is safe and follows that city’s guidelines.
We recommend including time in the project’s plan for reviews, and quality controls. It saves time, decreases the number of deliverables, increases the profitability of the whole endeavor, protects the bond with the client, as well as fortifies the industry status of the business.
The next step into a successful deliverable strategy is tracking the progress of the whole lifecycle. As we said before this is better achieved by maintaining control during each phase. We strongly suggest employing an all-in-one project management tool in order to keep a close watch on every part of the operation.
Said software solutions can help track the progress of the overarching project, within each task, allowing for simple and transparent communication and collaboration every step of the way. Aside from the concrete project, there are other aspects that can be vital for the wellbeing of the company, like profitability reports and data-driven decision-making.
There are multiple things that can go wrong within a complex project. So businesses should invest in the necessary support to keep a streamlined workflow. Softwares with multiple APIs features, Gantt’s Charts for a simple project’s overview instead of a convoluted table of content, scheduling capacity that can notify team members of any updates, as well as real-time changes display.
Taking care of all of these aspects can be tricky, even more so when PMs are tackling multiple projects and team members are going through several hats in their workday. complex projects can also involve a lot of team members from different areas or departments of the company, as well as external collaborators. This is difficult enough without adding clients’ demands or changes into the mix, or market fluctuations that can impact the overall profitability of the project.
Support needs to be as flexible as the demands of the project and on top of the situation. A very valuable feature is notifying when deadlines are at risk of being missed or pushed back, or when the budget is going over the line. This is why project risk analysis and management are just as important as deliverable quality assurance. But these are all parts of the same system and should be treated with a holistic approach.
That’s why here at COR we developed an all-in-one project management solution. We understand that no single part of the equation is more important than the whole. Our software allows businesses to look at specific issues, as well as granting a bird’ eye view of the status of projects and product or service lines. Our simple dashboard can allow project managers to know how each project is going with a simple glance, as well as letting them know how much work each collaborator has on their plate.
Our time tracking feature is a key resource to take better care of the talent’s health, automate processes with our templates, avoid burnout, and generate task estimations. With these data sets our AI-powered tool can create project profitability estimates and let project managers know how much time team members need in order to finish their tasks, and how many employees will be needed until the end of the project, improving their scheduling capabilities and avoiding missing deadlines.
Our collaboration and communication features can also improve the line of information, keeping everything in the same place, and letting quality checks be an organic task. If you want to stop generating several versions of the same deliverable, ramp up production, and increase your profitability, then request a demo today.