“Deliverables” is a term often used in the professional sphere. Even new employees in the onboarding phase may hear this it. If you’re not familiar with what a deliverable is, it can be a little confusing to suddenly have this term thrown around as part of everyday work vocabulary. A deliverable is an end product or good that can be given, or delivered, to a client or manager. This end product can be tangible or digital. The way that you interact with and contribute to deliverables will depend on your role at the company, as well as company processes.
Objectives vs. Deliverables
Objectives and deliverables can seem very similar, especially if you’re working with digital goals. However, these two things describe different processes, as well as serve different purposes. It’s important to know the difference between these two items for your workflow, as well as to keep confusion to a minimum.
An objective is a goal or milestone that you want to reach. An objective can involve deliverables or can deal with things like metrics or conversions. Objectives are typically internal, meaning that they are for the benefit and growth of the company, rather than in service to a client.
As mentioned, a deliverable is a product or service delivered. It can be internal or external, though this term is typically used for external client-facing items. A deliverable might be included in certain objectives, however, it can’t be the only facet of an objective.
Identifying and Managing Deliverables
Both management and employees need to know how to identify and manage deliverables. For management, this is important when assigning work, setting deadlines, and creating a campaign or contract. For employees, this is important for prioritization, resource identification, and time management.
Proper management of project deliverables can increase the efficiency of workflow and employee productivity. An easy and common way to assess individual efficiency is to compare work schedules to the number or rate of deliverables completed, showing exactly how long it takes to get things done. With precision time tracking software, seeing how effectively team members spend their time becomes insightful in terms of both productivity, and the cost of different deliverables.
Identifying deliverables is fairly easy once you understand the meaning. The exchangeable item in your workflow is most likely your deliverable. Managing deliverables takes a little more skill. You can ask yourself a few questions when managing deliverables, including:
- How soon is the project deliverable expected?
- How many deliverables are in this contract?
- How much time will each deliverable take to complete?
All of these questions can help you identify your timeline for the whole project, set deadlines, and prioritize which project deliverable to work on first. As a manager, it’s also important to take into account your relationship with the client. Long-term clients may be more flexible with deadlines if you find you need more time. Similarly, clients with outstanding invoices might be less of a priority than new clients or clients in good standing.
Types of Deliverables
There are several different types of deliverables in project management. A deliverable can be a tangible product — a document, an item, or a service — but it can also be intangible. A digital product, such as an image or piece of code can be a deliverable. Plans can also be a deliverable. Creating a budget, schedule, or content plan is a type of strategic project deliverable. Internal, external, and strategic deliverables are the most common types of deliverables.
Internal deliverables are non-client-facing documents or products. An example of an internal deliverable would be a report to another department. This is an exchangeable document that may be part of a campaign or an objective but isn’t for the client. Internal deliverables can come in many shapes and sizes depending on the industry you work in, and the expectations of your job and management.
An external deliverable is a client-facing document or product. This is classically the definition of deliverable — an exchangeable good to the client. This can be a service, physical products, or digital goods. External deliverables are typically the highest priority for a company, as these are what makes the company money. Because of this, they may go through more quality-assurance processes and have more strict deadlines. An example of an external deliverable could be food from a catering company for an event or a logo package from a graphic designer.
Strategic deliverables are slightly different from both the deliverables described above. While they follow the same definition, they are focused less on physical services and goods and more on finalized plans. A strategic deliverable could be internal or external. An example of a strategic deliverable could be a budget for the next fiscal year or a campaign plan from a marketing company. Strategic deliverables can be simply the plan, or they can include the execution and monitoring of the plan.
For many companies, deliverables are their lifeblood. They are what make the company profitable, as well as keep it running smoothly. As an employee, you should have a firm grasp on how deliverables are handled within your company and try to stay on top of any process changes to ensure the highest quality possible.