Anyone who plans on working in project management needs to understand project deliverables, including what they are and why they’re important.

Project Management Project Deliverables

  1. What Are Project Deliverables – Work Packages?
  2. What Are Types of Project Deliverables?
  3. What Are the Benefits of Work Packages?
  4. Define and Track Project Deliverables

What Are Project Deliverables – Work Packages?

A work package is a sequence of work product or deliverables broken down to a level small enough to estimate, schedule, monitor and control.  These manageable work packages are the building blocks of your project.  Work packages are the smallest unit of work within a Work Breakdown Structure – called a WBS.  Decomposition of deliverables can be done using a top-down approach, starting with the high-level pieces of a project.  You can also take a bottom-up approach starting at the work package level. You know you have a work package when the work:

  • Can be realistically and confidently estimated
  • Can be completed quickly, without interruption
  • Can be completed without the need for more information
  • May be outsourced

The terms work package and deliverable are often used interchangeably.  They are not.  A work package is almost always a project deliverable while a deliverable can be the result of the work output from a number of work packages.  Indeed, the entire product of a project, comprising a large number of work packages, is a deliverable.

Every WBS and work package is unique. Because work packages lead to specific deliverables, they should not be repeated.  Each project manager will approach creating both in their own way. However, there are a few guidelines to follow:

  • A WBS and work packages should be created by the project manager with input from the team and other stakeholders during the planning phase of the project.
  • The WBS includes only project deliverables that are required. Deliverables not within scope are not part of the project.
  • Each level of a WBS is a breakdown of the previous level, leading to the smallest units of work. This is a work package.
  • Work packages start with a clearly define project goal.

What Are Types of Project Deliverables?

Project deliverables can be interim or complete. They can also be external or internal to the project. An example of an external deliverable is a product or service to be sold to the client. So, it’s an outcome that the client requested.

On the other hand, an internal work package is something you can use to keep your team on track toward completing a project. So, it isn’t something that you’ll need to give to the client once the project is finished. A documented plan that you need before you can start working on a project’s work packages is an example.

Also, a deliverable can be big or small – intangible or tangible. An example of a tangible deliverable is an actual product that customers use; an intangible deliverable might be a better trained team.

Bottom line: a deliverable could be anything from a document to a product that all of your stakeholders agree upon. No matter what, it should fit within the objectives and scope of the project, and it should be defined and clear.

What Are the Benefits of Work Packages?

The are many benefits of work packages.  Probably the biggest benefit is breaking project down into manageable pieces.  The effort of breaking down the work ensures that nothing, including deliverables, is forgotten. Because the sponsor, team and stakeholders are involved in creating the deliverables, it helps gain buy-in, leading to improved performance. Doing this work with the team defines activities completely, making estimates more accurate. Work packages are a great way to define project cost and duration of a project. Other benefits include a better understanding of the project which:

  • Helps identify and reduce risk
  • Clearly delineates work and responsibly
  • Shows how one deliverable relates to another
  • Helps control what work is done when
  • Informs and helps control scope creep
  • Connects the impact of work to the larger project

Finally, work packages are important as teams can work concurrently on different parts of the project to better meet deadlines.

Define and Track Project Deliverables

When defining project deliverables, consider using a work package template, as this can help with things like tracking milestones.

You can choose from various templates. Your template can be set up in a spreadsheet or a software tool, and it could include the following elements:

  1. Project information including the name of project, the project manager and team members.
  2. Deliverable information with the name of each work package and description, individuals assigned to it.
  3. Milestones, objectives, and task progress.
  4. Budget that shows how much money is allocated for the work package.
  5. Deadlines such as start date, status, and end date.

Note, once you have identified the smallest pieces of work, you might enter the work packages into some sort of project scheduling software.  Software planning tools help determine task sequence and scheduling. However, don’t try to finalize the list of work packages using scheduling software as the list of work packages is generated by the team as part of the WBS.

Learn More About Project Deliverables?

If you’d like to learn more about how project deliverables in project management, consider learning the essentials of project management. RMC’s has several options to hone your Project Management Fundamentals.

If you are interested in working toward a project management certification, like a CAPM or PMP, we’ve got you covered.


Cate Curry
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