If you’re a project manager, chances are you often have a lot on your plate. Between managing projects, schedules, tasks, stakeholders, and all else, it can be exceptionally easy to let things get away from you – we only have so much attention to dedicate at one time. At some point, lapses in our ability to manage all of these aspects may cause our end results to suffer. After all the hard work and time that goes into each and every project, letting a small lapse in continuity dictate your project’s success is something most of us simply can’t afford.
In part one of this series, we're going to talk about what deliverables look like and why they're important.
What are project deliverables?
Project deliverables can come in many forms - tangible and intangible. Reports, documents, software, presentations – all of these can be considered as deliverables depending on the demands of the project at hand.
Deliverables in project management can be distinguished in two main ways:
- Process deliverables – building blocks or milestones that serve the final goal of the project
- Project deliverables – components that, together, accomplish the final goal of the project.
What makes deliverables important in project management?
Even the simplest of projects rely on deliverables to continue to progress forward. Imagine presenting one of your projects without the standard fare – deadlines, dependencies, milestones, reports – how would your stakeholders react if you were to offer none of these when speaking on the progress of the project, unable to comment on any of them for the entire time the project was underway?
The lack of concrete deliverables in a project can quickly snowball into stakeholder confusion, lack of consensus, and even worse, errors being made. Any of these possibilities inevitably result in the dissatisfaction of your stakeholders, and a project on life support.
Being able to create and adhere to a tight schedule of high-quality, concrete deliverables that measure directly against project KPIs is essential to the long-term success of any project manager.
What deliverables are most important?
You may think you have a solid grasp of what’s expected of you in your projects – and you likely have the acumen to be able to fill in any gaps you encounter along the way. You may find yourself only documenting the main milestones of a project and winging the rest as you go – after all, creating a project is a long and arduous task. If you can take notes in shorthand and comprehend just fine, why waste your time going through the motions of filling out a cookie-cutter project plan, only to ever refer back to the main points as you go?
The fact of the matter is, the quality of your final deliverables depends highly on the quality of the internal deliverables you utilize throughout the project process. Thinking highly of your own ability to fill in the gaps without a surefire system in place is doomed to fail eventually. While the ability to improvise on your projects is considered an effective and desirable trait, this certainly is not the correct application of the term.
In part two of this series, we'll talk about how to build those bulletproof deliverables.