What are Deliverables?
Deliverables describe the objects that have to be completed and products that are provided on specified due dates. It is a term used in project management. Deliverables can be goods or services – either tangible or intangible.
- In project management, deliverables describe the objects completed and products provided on their specified due dates.
- Deliverables can be classified into product and project deliverables, or internal and external deliverables.
- In project management, deliverables are determined in the initiating and planning stages and processed in the execution stage. After passing the quality test, they are delivered to clients in the closing stage.
Deliverables are the outputs provided to clients after processing the inputs – such as data, information, and other resources – at the completion of a project. Project deliverables and product deliverables are two different types.
- Project deliverables include the statement of work, project plans, and project reports.
- Product deliverables can be hardware, software, or systems designed to solve clients’ problems.
Deliverables can be intangible. For example, a company aims to better manage its inventory level. The deliverable is a well-designed inbound and outbound logistics system or software.
Tangible deliverables are also common. A client company wants to improve its technology, and the deliverable is the acquisition of advanced hardware or equipment. Sometimes, a deliverable is composed of several smaller deliverables that might combine both tangible and intangible ones.
Types of Deliverables
Deliverables can be classified into the internal ones and the external ones:
1. Internal deliverables
Internal deliverables are not a part of the final product delivered to the end-user or client. They are created internally to support a project to run and are only used by the project team. The final deliverables and the following activities are based on the completion of the deliverables.
For example, in a project that will deliver a mobile application as its final product, the original codes and testing results are some of its internal deliverables. Most of the project deliverables are internal deliverables.
2. External deliverables
External deliverables are the ones provided to the end-users or clients. In the same example, the mobile application itself will be a part of the external deliverables.
The client may also receive future maintenance patches and other add-ins that support the application to run as external deliverables.
Deliverables and Project Management
The term “deliverables” is commonly used in project management. It is a practice that leads the work and allocates resources to achieve certain goals under certain constraints, such as time and budget.
There are different approaches to project management. Process-based management, phased approach, critical chain project management, and product-based planning are some of the examples. Product-based planning is an output-oriented approach. It identifies all the deliverables that need to be developed to achieve the objective of a project.
Regardless of the different approaches, the basic project management process is generally the same. The process groups include initiating, planning, production or execution, monitoring and controlling, and closing. In the initiating stage, the product breakdown structure – a hierarchy of deliverables – is created.
Responsibilities are assigned according to the deliverables. Internal and external deliverables, as well as activities that are necessary to complete the project, are identified in the planning stage. Thus, the schedule and budget can be developed.
Deliverables are executed in the execution stage. The monitoring and controlling group monitors the project activities, measures the performance, and provides maintenance as the execution goes on.
Deliverables – the output of the execution phase – are tested for quality, completeness, and correctness. If the deliverables are tested to be able to achieve the project objects and meet all the criteria, the project will move to the final stage.
In the closing stage, the deliverables are provided to the client, and the contract is completed.
Deliverables and Milestones
Some deliverables can be completed independently, but in reality, many are based on the completion of the others. It is very common, especially in long-term and complex projects with multiple milestones.
In project management, milestones mark the major schedule intervals along a project timeline. It indicates the start and end dates of activities, the due dates of internal deliverables, and time for a quality control test or budget check.
Milestones are different from deliverables. Milestones are used as a measure of the progress of a project, and a deliverable is not necessarily required at each milestone.
At the beginning of a project, deliverables and a series of activities are planned. Thus, milestones can be set to point out the timelines of individual activities. Project managers can use milestones to check whether the major activities are completed, and the project is progressed on schedule or not.
However, the use of milestones can also cause a problem. Milestones only focus on critical activities. Thus, a project team tends to allocate more resources to ensure the completion of the activities. It may cause ignorance of the less critical activities, which can also disrupt the progress of a project.
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