Understanding project deliverables: A complete breakdown with examples
There’s no denying the key role project deliverables play in completing projects on time, on budget, and with minimal friction.
They help set stakeholder expectations, instruct your team members, and provide you with a step-by-step action plan for achieving your project’s goals.
When you consider their wide-reaching implications, it becomes clear that you can’t afford to coast by with only a surface-level understanding of these critical project elements.
That’s why we’re sharing relatable examples of project deliverables from five common project teams. Also, this blog will discuss ways you can leverage them to make your job more efficient and impactful.
Naturally, it only seems right to kick things off with a proper definition.
Comprehensive project planning software to see the big picture
Break down your projects into workable and acheivable portions with project planning software from Teamwork.
What are project deliverables?
Project deliverables refer to all of the outputs—tangible or intangible—that are submitted within the scope of a project.
While the term may initially bring to mind the final outputs that get submitted at the end of a project, it actually refers to any project-related output submitted during any of the project phases.
Project deliverables need to be agreed upon early during the planning stage to properly set expectations and allocate resources, and documented within a governing project charter so they can be referenced throughout the duration of the project.
Internal vs. external project deliverables
Project deliverables can be classified as either internal or external. It all depends on whether they will be submitted internally to your own company or externally to a client’s organization.
Internal project deliverables are submitted to your own team members or to a collaborating department (need be). Some examples of internal project deliverables (that will go through internal reviews) include:
Project budget report
External project deliverables are submitted to stakeholders outside of your company, including clients and investors. Some examples of external project deliverables (that will go through client reviews) include:
Process deliverables vs product deliverables
Project deliverables can further be classified as either process deliverables or product deliverables, depending on whether or not they will directly satisfy one or more project requirements.
Think of process deliverables like picking a color to paint your walls and product deliverables like revealing the first completed coat. Or, looking at a picture of a teal blue wall (process) vs. seeing it completed in all its glory in your actual home (product).
Both are important parts that make up the whole, but process deliverables don’t pack the same wow factor. Don’t get us wrong—that doesn’t make them any less important.
Process deliverables are intermediate outputs that move a project forward without directly satisfying a project requirement. This could look like:
Internal bug report to improve a software deliverable
Internal Gantt chart to inform the project workflow
Internal client onboarding checklist for a better project kickoff
Initial design project management plan for clients to review
Product deliverables are final outputs that directly satisfy one or more of the project requirements. These are a bit more exciting.
They represent juicy milestones that everybody is eager to review and weigh in on. They include things like:
Complete content strategy
Finalized architectural blueprint
Categories of project deliverables
The two classifications — internal/external and process/product—are not mutually exclusive. They exist simultaneously for every deliverable (kind of like your stress if you aren’t using a project management tool like Teamwork 😉).
Together, they produce the four categories of project deliverables:
These four categories allow you to better understand the role that each of your deliverables plays in the bigger picture. Each enables you to set your team members’ output expectations accordingly.
For example, an initial design does not need to be refined to the same degree as a final design. Without stages like ‘initial’ and ‘final’ or ‘first draft’ and ‘final draft’, projects would exist in hyper-pressurized environments.
Planned review phases, both internal and external, allow your team and clients the time to collaboratively get it right—step by step, phase by phase. Naturally, the audience for internal deliverables will be different from the audience for external deliverables.
Internal jargon and references to your other client projects may be helpful for your team members, but they should be kept out of client conversations.
Confusion surrounding project deliverables
Another issue we need to address is the fact that project deliverables commonly get confused with both project milestones and project objectives. Let’s clear that up.
Project milestones are progress markers along the path to completing a project. They tell you how far through a project you are, and how far you still have to go.
Some examples of milestones are:
The end of the planning phase
The halfway mark of the project
The beginning of the monitoring phase
Or project milestones can simply be a way to test, review, release, and get feedback.
While submitting a deliverable may lead to the completion of a milestone, the milestone itself is not a deliverable.
Project objectives are the individual goals that a project should accomplish. They tell you what outcomes the deliverables should contribute to in order for a project to be successful.
In other words, they help you measure if the thing you’re putting all of this energy into building actually does what it’s meant to. The more specific and measurable, the better.
Setting your project goals correctly helps you understand crucial metrics like return on investment (ROI), conversion rate, engagement, churn, and so on. Some examples of objectives are:
Increase a client’s software sales by 10%
Increase a client’s site traffic by 10,000 visitors per month
Eliminate bug-related eCommerce cart abandonment
While submitting a deliverable may lead to the achievement of an objective, the objective itself is not a deliverable.
Examples of project deliverables from common teams
Your project deliverables will vary from team to team, just like your daily tasks, workflows, and processes vary from one department to another.
Creative teams may include writers (👋), editors, designers, videographers, etc. Examples of project deliverables for creative teams are:
Completed website wireframe
Finished print media graphic
Ready-to-send email outline
Professional services teams
Professional services teams may include accountants, architects, IT specialists, and lawyers. Examples of project deliverables for professional services teams are:
Completed financial report
Initial blueprint design
Functional VoIP system
Ready-to-sign customized contract
Product teams may include product managers, product designers, UX designers, and analysts. Examples of project deliverables for product teams are:
Product roadmap presentation
Initial UI wireframe
A complete user journey map
Finalized customer retention report
Marketing teams may include positions like SEOs, copywriters, brand strategists, graphic designers, and email marketers. Examples of project deliverables for marketing teams are:
Keyword research report
Draft of sales copy
Brand identity package
Social media graphics
Agency teams may include content strategists, account managers, SMMs, and developers. Examples of project deliverables for agency teams are:
Social media copy
Customized WordPress theme
Tracking and fulfilling your project deliverables
You can’t afford to lose track of your projects’ deliverables. Knowing the status of each task and who’s responsible for what is critical to staying in control.
This is best accomplished with project management software that provides you with a way to view the status of your project’s deliverables visually.
Teamwork’s Kanban board view allows you to track your projects at a glance, modify tasks as necessary, and even set up triggers to automatically assign tasks, change due dates, and notify the right people when tasks move from one column to another.
Handling changes to your project deliverables
Occasionally, the deliverables of a project will need to change. This usually comes in the form of an expansion in the project scope where additional deliverables are added.
In the case where a project is trending over budget, a project manager may work with the client to remove one or more of the lower priority, “nice-to-have” deliverables.
Whether you’re adding, removing, or modifying project deliverables, it’s important to be able to reflect any changes in your project management tool immediately. This will allow you to assess the effects the changes will have on your resources, budget, and timeline.
A project management tool with resource management insights will let you see who has the capacity to take on additional project deliverables, as well as who may become overloaded if given the task.
Combine your newly improved understanding of project deliverables with a powerful project management tool like Teamwork to deliver higher impact projects with less effort.
Want to continue learning? Check out our complete guide to project management.