Every project has an objective. Whether you’re making some updates to your website or building the next Eiffel Tower, you and your team are working towards something. Ultimately, running a successful project means having something to show for it at the end of the project’s timeline, whether that’s a tangible thing—like a new product or an ebook—or an intangible thing—like a decrease in customer churn or increase in NPS score.
That “thing” you’re working towards is a deliverable. Knowing what your deliverables are and clearly communicating those deliverables to your team and stakeholders can help you hit your project objectives. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to identify, set, and achieve your project deliverables.
Project deliverables are the output you expect to have at the end of your project. Deliverables can be anything—a new product, marketing campaign, feature update, a sales deck, a decrease in churn, or an increase in NPS score, just to name a few. Your project can have one or more deliverables, but clearly identifying what you’re working towards can help your team align and prioritize tasks in order to get their most important work done.
If you’re new to project management, you might have heard some other terms that sound similar to a project deliverable. Here’s how they stack up:
Your project objectives will help you set your project deliverables, but project objectives are broader than your deliverables. When you define your project objectives, you’re also capturing the benefits and outcomes you expect from those deliverables, especially as they relate to the grander scheme of your project goals and business objectives.
Example of a project objective: Increase company security by introducing SSO and two-factor authentication.
Example of a deliverable: Onboard the entire company onto new SSO service.
Milestones are checkpoints you expect to hit during your project. They represent the accomplishment of a significant body of work, but they happen during—not at the end of—your project. Think of your project milestones as the building blocks that help you hit your project deliverables.
Example of a deliverable: Roll out new brand marketing campaign across paid social media, YouTube ads, and print.
Example of a project milestone: Hire agency for creative production.
In order to hit your deliverables, it’s important to know what type of deliverable you’re working towards. This will impact how you format and actually hand off the deliverables once the project is finished. There are two types of deliverables, and the type of project you’re working on will determine which type of deliverable you’re working towards.
This is probably what you think of when you hear “project deliverable.” External deliverables are anything you’re producing for clients, like a product or new feature, a social media or marketing campaign, or a sales deck. External deliverables will help you win or maintain your customer base.
An internal deliverable, as the name suggests, is something that benefits your company but may not directly impact your customers. This includes things like a company training course or a quarterly budget report. If your project’s end-user is your company, then you’re probably working on an internal deliverable.
Before you can hit your project deliverables, you first need to know what they are. Aim to create your project deliverables while you’re creating your project plan and defining your project objectives. That way, your team has a clear sense of what they’re working towards from the very onset of the project, as well as a defined roadmap of how you’re going to get there.
To define your project deliverables, start by asking yourself a few questions:
Knowing your project deliverables won’t be helpful if you don’t have buy-in from key stakeholders. Make sure you surface your deliverables effectively and frequently to any key stakeholders so everyone is on the same page. If you haven’t already, share your project plan with them, so they have a way to access your most important project information.
In order to hit your project deliverables, you need to effectively track your team’s work so you know exactly who’s doing what by when. To do that, you need a central source of truth. With project management software, your entire team has a way to track and execute work, so they know exactly who’s doing what by when. That way, you can share the objective of the project and also track the work your team is doing in real-time.
There are three main types of visual project management:
Kanban boards help you visualize work moving through stages. In a Kanban board, work is displayed in a project board that is organized by columns. Individual tasks—which are represented as visual cards on the board—move through the columns until they’re completed. With Kanban boards, you can get at-a-glance insight into how you’re progressing towards your project deliverables based on where each individual task stands in your Kanban board.
To view your project in a timeline, use Gantt charts. Gantt charts are a bar chart-like view, where tasks are represented as horizontal bars on the bar chart. That way, you can not only see when a task is due, but how long it should take to complete. Track complex processes, like product launches or event planning, with Gantt charts. Gantt chart software also usually has a way for you to visualize project milestones more effectively. With a Gantt chart, you can track exactly where you are in your project timeline, and how you’re tracking towards your deliverables.
Use a project calendar to see your entire month’s work laid out in one central view. As the name suggests, a project calendar looks similar to a traditional calendar, and you can easily drag and drop tasks onto the correct due date. Project calendars are a great way to track monthly production, like an editorial calendar or a social media content calendar. This type of visual project management can help you make sure you’re hitting all of your important daily tasks in order to hit your deliverables at the end of the project timeline.
A project status report is a timely update with high-level information about how you’re progressing towards your project deliverables. That way, you can align with your team on whether or not you’re on track to hit your deliverables. If you aren’t, you can course correct before it’s too late—instead of reaching the end of your project timeline and scrambling to get your deliverables done.
At Asana, we recommend sending weekly or bi-weekly reports to keep your team aligned on your project objectives and deliverables. Project status reports are also a great way to share the big picture with project stakeholders who may not be following the project’s day to day work.
The best way to share a project status update is to do it in the same place where you’re tracking your work. Instead of spending time manually collecting data from a variety of sources, look for a work management tool that offers reporting and status features, so you can get real time insight with the click of a button.
Hopefully, you’ve hit all of your project deliverables. But even if you did, it’s still important to gather metrics and evaluate the success of your overall project. Did you hit your deliverables but overshoot on your project schedule? Did you hit your deliverables easily with time and resources to spare? If you were working on an external deliverable, how did external stakeholders react? Take some time to debrief with your project team so you can bring any learnings into the next time you create and manage project deliverables.
The deliverable you create will depend on your project objectives and your project plan. Your deliverable should be reasonable for your project scope—in other words, don’t aim to deliver something you’d never be able to accomplish within the project timeline or with the resources you have. Writing a great project deliverable can help you build a successful project and hit your goals. Here are a few common projects and realistic deliverables for each one.
Type of deliverable: External deliverable
Example external deliverable: One 60-second live-action video, formatted for YouTube.
Type of deliverable: Internal deliverable
Example internal deliverable: Robust sales plan detailing inbound and outbound sales strategy, revenue targets, target customers, and sales tooling for FY22.
Type of deliverable: External deliverable
Example external deliverable: Complete usability testing session with at least 20 participants on August 4th.
Type of deliverable: External deliverable
Example external deliverable: Promotion of new product features via social, web, and PR.
Type of deliverable: Internal deliverable
Example external deliverable: Virtual company holiday party on December 18th.
Deputy makes workforce planning simpler for employers by enabling them to easily create rosters and track hours worked. It also benefits employees by allowing them to use an app to clock hours and swap shifts. Organizations of all sizes—from SMBs to large enterprises—use Deputy, including Amazon, Aesop, Nike, Messina, and Reliant Healthcare.
Managing technology on a large-scale is tricky at the best of times, but throw in lack of standardization and things can get chaotic. At Deputy, teams were using different work management tools, causing information silos, miscommunication, and lost data. These inefficiencies reduced transparency into projects and deliverables across the company.
Deputy’s solution to this problem was to consolidate all of their work management tools. Only one tool would be used company-wide, making collaboration easier and increasing transparency across the business. Deputy chose Asana because it met the company’s needs and offered the best user experience.
“It’s been a relief having everything in one place. Asana makes it much easier for us to ensure everyone is rowing in the same direction.”
Asana is now used company-wide at Deputy by different departments:
Marketing uses Asana Forms for intake requests and manages all of their campaigns in the platform. This has made collaboration within the team easier.
Customer support tracks article development for the Deputy help center to ensure all topics are comprehensively covered.
Customer success manages customer deployments in Asana so timelines and responsibilities are clear.
Finance and other corporate teams rely on the platform to manage their recurring work, like end of month close, and large projects.
PMO tracks big projects like compliance and office relocations. Asana tasks ensure no detail is missed.
Corporate engineering plans their quarterly and monthly sprints in Asana and manages projects, like deploying Zendesk for the customer support team, in the tool.
Overall, Asana has created a single source of truth that enables transparency into work happening across the company and ensures every department is moving in the same direction. Increased visibility across projects and deliverables has also improved trust, which is especially important in today's remote work environment where 59% of employees work asynchronous hours.
With Asana, team members can easily see what everyone is working on in real time and when they can expect those deliverables to be completed. When work is finished, all an employee needs to do is mark a deliverable as complete for the right people to be notified—no email needed. This has helped drive efficiency across the organization because responsibilities, deliverables, and deadlines are clear.
To learn more about how the Deputy team uses Asana company-wide, read the full case study.
It’s a good feeling when you achieve what you wanted to—and hitting your project deliverables is no different. Ultimately, achieving your project deliverables comes down to setting and communicating clear objectives, and then tracking your objectives during the course of your project. To give your team clarity and visibility into work, try a work management tool.
Asana is a work management tool designed to help teams stay in sync, hit their deadlines, and reach their goals. Learn more about Asana.
How to write an effective project objective, with examples
By setting SMART project objectives, you can communicate your goals before a project begins and evaluate success after it ends. Learn how in our guide.