A project deliverable is something that is produced or provided to help achieve a specific objective. To be a deliverable, the output must be both within the scope and the result of deliberate work. Construction project deliverables can be either large or small–anything from an entire building to a single piece of paperwork. Each project has many deliverables and each one must be completed in order to finish the overall project. Project deliverables can include many parts such as the project schedule, project plan, reports, website wireframes, and SWOT analysis. But how can we effectively track these project deliverables?
1. Define Deliverables Before Starting Work
Trying to add deliverables once the work has already begun will likely change both the project scope and budget. By defining deliverables before beginning work on the project, there will be a clear vision of what the project should entail and how it will be completed. To define a deliverable, a good method is to start with the objective and work backward–break it down into parts to get a clear gauge of what needs to be done in each stage. By understanding the client’s end goal objectives, deliverables can be tailored during development to meet those expectations. One method of defining and planning for each deliverable is using a Gantt chart, which is a visualization breakdown of each phase of the project and can be used in conjunction with deliverables to set project milestones.
2. Understand Requirements of the Deliverable
Project deliverables have two main components: the deliverable itself and the acceptance criteria for the deliverable. Before a deliverable can be accepted, it must meet client and stakeholder requirements. If a stakeholder rejects a deliverable, the scope and budget of the project may have to change. Some questions to ask stakeholders to understand their requirements for acceptance are what they are trying to achieve with the project and what their cost and time frame expectations are for the deliverable. The more detailed and accurate the requirements are, the easier it will be to make sure the deliverable is accepted by the stakeholders. When gathering requirements, ensuring that they meet SMART goal criteria can help ensure the stakeholder’s expectations are met and the deliverable is accepted.
3. Start by Getting Input from Stakeholders
Getting input from stakeholders from the start of the project is essential to understand the criteria for acceptance. This will not only give a better gauge of their expectations but help accurately define the scope of the project from the very beginning. It is important to involve stakeholders at project initiation meetings and gather feedback from them in order to better understand their criteria for acceptance. Breaking down each deliverable into smaller parts, called a work breakdown structure (WBS), is often helpful for this because it allows facets of the deliverable to be delegated and carefully tracked throughout their lifetime. Stakeholders can give feedback on specific parts of the deliverable and the deliverable as a whole throughout the process to ensure the deliverable is meeting their expectations. From this feedback, the deliverable can be planned with a clear vision of the budget and scope.
4. Determine Whether it is an Internal or External Deliverable
Deliverables are categorized into being either internal or external. An internal deliverable does not deal directly with stakeholders and can include tasks such as doing taxes or creating corporate documents. Internal deliverables do not directly generate revenue for the company and therefore have a slightly looser margin of error. External deliverables are work that is done to fulfill clients demands or generate revenue for the company. It is important to be extremely thorough with external deliverables since they are customer-facing.
5. Understand the Distinction Between Process and Project Deliverables
Process deliverables can be thought of as the stepping stones which help create project deliverables. Process deliverables can include creating a project scope statement, project plan, or developing a work breakdown structure. Creating process deliverables is not the goal of the project, but they help make reaching the end goal much more manageable by breaking down the project into smaller parts.
6. Set Clear Deadlines
Setting a clear deadline for each deliverable helps ensure each deadline is integrated with project milestones so each step of the project is carefully tracked. Process deliverables can be used to help understand the project deliverable and break it down to help achieve deadlines. Additionally, tools such as Gantt charts can be helpful for this because the chart provides a visualization of each phase of the project and how these phases interact with one another.
7. Set Milestones
Breaking down the deliverable into phases by setting milestones helps better track the progress of the deliverable. Milestones are checkpoints in the course of the project which do not have hard deadlines, but rather are to check in with progress and ensure the project is on track. They are an internal tool to assist the project team in managing a project deliverable and are not meant for clients or external stakeholders.
8. Use an Online Software Tool
With the rise in technology, there are many more efficient ways to track deliverables than by hand. Using online project management software tools can help eliminate errors and streamline the process of tracking deliverables for fast, accurate results.
Creating a careful strategy to track project deliverables is essential to keep a project on budget and within scope. By investing time and resources at the beginning of the project into understanding the expectations and objectives of each deliverable, you can help ensure the project stays on track and ensure all key stakeholders are up to date with the progress on the deliverable. At the end of the day, careful tracking of project deliverables in construction is an extremely valuable tool to help ensure a successful construction project.