So many projects deliverables. So (very) little time.
As the number of projects and their accompanying deliverables continue to rise and time remains constant (still only 24 hours in a day!), project manager plates across the world are getting more and more full. These “overflowing plates,” in turn, can negatively impact results.
Between juggling projects, tasks, schedules, stakeholders, and all the things in between, critical aspects of job roles and responsibilities began to fall through the cracks. We are, after all, only human.
Is this avoidable? After all the hard work and time that goes into each and every project, there must be a way to ensure solid output, right?
The short answer is a resounding yes.
Before we get to how to make all of this work, let’s back up and define a few things.
What are project deliverables?
In short, a project deliverable is any deliberate output created for a specific project.
There are two main types of deliverables for any given project:
- Process deliverables … which play a key role in reaching the project’s overall goal
- Project deliverables … which serve as the project’s ultimate goal
Yet, as always, the devil is in the details.
It’s important to remember this: project deliverables can come in many different shapes and sizes. A deliverable can be:
- Tangible or intangible
- Internal or external
- In multiple formats: reports, products, and more
All of it depends on the specifics of each and every project.
Project deliverable examples
Not all project (or process) deliverables are created equal.
Deliverables can — and do — vary from industry to industry, organization to organization, and from project to project. This variability makes it quite challenging (if not impossible) to build a list of “one size fits all” deliverables.
That being said, there are some deliverables that are similar.
For the purpose of this example, we chose a project that many can relate to: redesigning a company website. Here is what process and project (and product) deliverables may look like:
Your initial list of project/product deliverables should encompass every one of your stakeholders and every phase of each component all the way up to the aggregated final result.
As seen in the website redesign example above, deliverables often rely on someone else doing something. This is what’s called a dependency. There tend to be more task dependencies the larger the project scope is and the more project milestones it has.
So why are deliverables so important?
Why are deliverables so important for project management?
Deliverables are not really important for a project, they are essential.
When managing a complex project with multiple stakeholders, every project team member is well aware of the final project objectives. Every stakeholder knows their responsibility.
That’s the good news.
However … there are no project deadlines, no project milestones, no progress progress reports, no way to know that everyone is on the same page. Oh, and there is nothing to share directly with the project’s sponsor.
This is certain to result in a poor outcome.
Fast forward to the final deadline date and (surprise surprise!) many of the internal and external stakeholders are behind schedule, some are not aligned with the main objective. And to top things off, you — the project manager, the lead — are completely out of the loop.
To avoid this complete and total disorder (or at least to mitigate it to some degree), it is crucial for project managers to ensure a tight schedule of high-quality deliverables and establish a cohesive approval process to guarantee that the progress is aligned with the specific project’s KPIs.
Note: Too often, internal deliverables are pushed to the side … viewed as not as important as external deliverables.
A far too common — yet often deadly — mistake is not investing in the quality of internal deliverables. Many pass it off as just another “unnecessary bureaucratic step” in the long project process.
The quality of your external deliverables is highly dependent on the deliverables submitted by you or your stakeholders throughout the entire process.
Revisiting our website redesign example above, if the wireframe is delivered half-backed an./or late, it will negatively impact the quality of the entire project. Every internal and external stakeholder depends on receiving high-quality deliverables in order to create deliverables of their own. Bad data in, bad data out.
So what do high-quality deliverables look like?
The two keys to high-quality deliverables
Thorough preparation + a quality checklist = a high-quality deliverable.
Key #1: Preparation
Alexander Graham Bell is quoted (some say incorrectly) as saying, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
While you might not necessarily be the one to execute the deliverables, if you are responsible for their quality ultimately you are held accountable. There is some essential preparation to be knocked out before the kickoff meeting with your stakeholders.
- Clearly define every deliverable. If you find yourself adding deliverables during the development phase, there may be a problem. You will likely have to alter the project scope, a huge headache and not all that efficient.
- Be thorough when outlining each deliverable. The more vague the outline, the more lengthy the back-and-forth with the stakeholder will be, and the more room for misinterpretation and confusion.
- Create and share a clear project phase schedule. This will help both you and the stakeholders track their progress and understand their role within the larger scope.
Key #2: a quality checklist
Your average workday requires a constant process of submitting, requesting, or reviewing multiple deliverables. It’s easy — and understandable — to overlook certain mistakes or omissions.
Unfortunately, these issues don’t miraculously disappear; they will always resurface … often at the most inopportune times.
That’s why it’s important for you to lead by example, establish a well-oiled approval process, and hold the stakeholders to the highest standards.
Instill best practices and measure each deliverable by leveraging the 6 Cs of project deliverable quality:
Breaking each one down …
- Concise: Does the deliverable focus solely on its original objectives?
- Clear: Is the deliverable coherent and easy to understand? Is it well structured and ready to be reviewed?
- Consistent: Is the deliverable aligned with project goals, and does it clearly communicate with all of the other deliverables?
- Correct: Is the deliverable error-free? Has it been carefully reviewed?
- Credible: Has the deliverable gone through sufficient testing if needed? Has it been proofed by a credible professional?
- Complete: Does the deliverable cover everything it should? Is it 100% ready for submission?
The 6 Cs should be a constant checklist for each and every deliverable that passes your desk.
The more experience you have, the longer your checklist will get. You can — and should — customize it to your specific projects in your specific industry.
But don’t make the mistake of keeping this checklist to yourself; it is made to be shared. No matter what the project, it’s important there are clear standards in place that are relevant for any stakeholder.
What does this all look like in practice?
Mini-Case Study: How Creativeans uses monday.com
While all of the above sounds wonderful in theory, what does it look like when implemented in the real world?
Creativeans is an interdisciplinary design and branding company for real products (not online products). It focuses on 4 disciplines: branding, product design, packaging, and communication design.
Thanks to the breadth of its solution, Creativeans helps clients from conception to implementation. Team members often start by designing the product, then move into package design and the overall branding. Finally, it helps with the communication strategy through marketing and other online means. Thanks to this deep level of involvement, the team builds a very deep understanding of its clients’ products ensuring great customer service.
How Creativeans uses monday.com: “clarity, not confusion”
Before we answer that, let’s look at Creativeans in a pre-monday.com world.
Prior to implementing monday.com, Creativeans had fewer projects. This made it easy as team members could use their own calendars, the company whiteboard, and so on.
However, as the organization grew, its “own stuff” became more challenging to manage. Once there were 20+ projects happening all at once, they needed to be on the same page, very clear about milestones.
“monday.com makes it really easy for us to work on projects,” co-founder and current Director Yulia Saksen, told us. “[The Work OS] is about efficiency and productivity. It’s a very useful solution for managing the complexity in such a diverse team like ours.
“We do all our planning on monday.com. When we kick start a project, we will have the different deliverables, the scope of the project — all this in monday.com.
Saksen shared how the team uses monday.com for internal meetings, where they pull up various monday.com boards and “everyone speaks about their work.”
Again, Saksen stressed how with monday.com, “It’s all very clear. Everything we need is there. We can see all that’s going on and can make changes on the spot.
The beauty of monday.com is its simplicity. We did try other project management softwares before, but they were all too complicated. We need clarity, not confusion.
Your list of project deliverables
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you view it), your list of deliverables is unique to you, your project, and your stakeholders.
The good news? Just like your quality checklist, over time, you will have your own deliverable lists in place for your recurring projects.
The even better news? There are actually plenty of customizable monday.com templates to make that task a whole lot easier.
All it takes is a little preparation, strong standards, a good communication and approval system, and you’re well on your way to ensure high-quality deliverables, every single time.