Understanding and successfully navigating project deliverables can help your organization satisfy clients and stakeholders, improving brand reputation and customer experience. This article serves as a guide to deliverables, their significance in project management, and barriers that often interfere with successful delivery.
Defining project deliverables.
Project deliverables are the results delivered to the client or stakeholders at the end of a project. The scope management process—established at the beginning of a given project to ensure that everyone understands the task at hand—guides deliverables.
Your organization is responsible for delivering tangible and intangible products or services to clients and stakeholders at predetermined intervals. These are deliverables.
Examples of project deliverables.
Since companies might encounter a wide variety of deliverables depending on their industry, let’s review a few examples of deliverables to better understand what professionals might create.
Examples of possible deliverables include:
- For a mobile development team, a deliverable might be an iOS application meeting specific functional requirements.
- For a consulting firm, deliverables might include a research report that includes practical recommendations.
- For a cybersecurity team, a deliverable might include a security audit and recommendations.
- For an engineering company, a completed building might be a deliverable.
- For an architecture company, a deliverable might include completed plans for a new home.
- For a web development team, the deliverable might be a fully optimized website.
Discussing deliverables: Clarification and communication.
Ensuring that everyone understands project deliverables plays an essential role in company success. Failing to define the details of a project deliverable clearly can result in confusion and frustration for all parties involved. It can also cost your business money as you dedicate additional resources to solving problems and overcoming any shortcomings that emerged.
To prevent any issues, you should properly define and potentially refine deliverables through contracts and communication. Involving the team responsible for the deliverable and the client in the discussion helps ensure that everyone understands the timeline and the intended outcome.
Producing deliverables: Common problems that project managers encounter.
As project managers work to guide their teams to produce deliverables, they may encounter various obstacles and challenges that make it difficult to complete the project on time and have deliverables ready for the client. Identifying common challenges beforehand and their solutions can help you avoid project delays.
Vaguely defined deliverable requirements.
Without clarity in the beginning, the team and client might be unsure of the final deliverable and the responsibilities involved in reaching this goal. Vague project requirements and poor requirements management can leave room for disappointment and inefficiencies, as the team lacks the clear guidance they need to create the final product.
To avoid this pitfall, outline a definitive deliverable with the client and any relevant stakeholders. You should also articulate the goal(s) for the deliverable and determine the criteria for the client to accept the deliverable.
Misalignment between stakeholders.
Typically, deliverables involve multiple stakeholders. While involved parties might have an idea of the final deliverable, they might differ in their deliverable goals. Misalignment between stakeholders can lead to inefficiencies and costly delays.
The project manager should clarify who is interested in the project’s outcome from the beginning and assign leaders with the same goals and expectations. Ensuring alignment from the beginning can set the project up for success.
Constantly evolving deliverable demands.
Few things are more frustrating for a team than to have their deliverable completed, or nearly completed, and learn that expectations have evolved. This wastes resources and can cause feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction among all parties involved.
To avoid this pitfall, outline smaller deliverables that will help you get to the final project. For example, an optimization project might have a preliminary deliverable that provides a website audit and areas to target. The final deliverable might include reports on the improvements and the optimized website. Reaching smaller steps along the path to the final deliverable can help ensure that everyone understands the project progression.
You should also consider having the client sign a document that states each deliverable and expectations. And once they sign it, it is final.
For a team to work well together to achieve their deliverable, they must have a degree of trust in each other’s skills and understanding. A skilled project manager must understand how to delegate tasks with clear instructions and ensure that everyone knows their role.
Once the project manager assigns tasks, the team can create internal deadlines and milestones to monitor progress on the final project. However, the project manager should allow the group to accomplish their tasks and goals on their own. Micromanaging can lead to an inefficient work system and a poor work environment, where team members do not feel valuable.
Communication problems within the team.
Since the team must work together to deliver a final project, communication issues can cause serious problems. You might have team members who struggle to work together because of mismatched personalities. You might also have team members who do not entirely understand their tasks and how it relates to the final deliverable, leading to gaps in work or duplicated efforts.
As the project manager, you have a few strategies you can use to resolve communication problems within the team:
- Set expectations regarding communication from the beginning. Let team members know if there are any guidelines regarding email replies during the workday, what they should do if a conflict arises, and how often they should meet. Have an escalation process outlined from the beginning for any disagreements.
- Lead by example by providing clear instructions for each team member along with deadlines and milestones. Management programs that help each member visualize others’ progress and see upcoming meetings and deadlines can help.
- Let everyone know how their parts relate to the final deliverable and their role in the group goal. This will help team members have an invested interest in the project at hand.
Budget or other resource constraints.
Project teams do not want to go over their budget in time or resources and spend more on a particular project than planned. However, a lack of proper planning can result in these issues, potentially damaging the company’s reputation or risk them losing money on their clients.
When you know the final product, it is easier to budget appropriately and ensure that you do not make revisions and change course throughout the project. With the estimated project budget, you need to factor in some contingencies. Look at similar past projects and consider potential pitfalls that might arise, such as losing a staff member in the middle of the project. Budget in some leeway in time and money to ensure your project remains on track.
As you progress through your project, make sure you carefully track how your team spends money, how well your team stays on budget, and where problems arise. This will help you make improved decisions moving forward.
Producing what is promised.
Those working in project management understand that deliverables keep clients returning and help build the company’s reputation. Whether the deliverable is a report from a cybersecurity company or a building from an engineering company, these products and services can take many forms. Knowing how to avoid common pitfalls and navigate challenges that might arise can guide project managers to provide skilled leadership and accomplish their goals to produce what they promised.