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Deliverables Are Only the Beginning

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Simply supplying a project's deliverables is not enough.

Project managers must understand the goal of the project, the objectives to support that goal and the deliverables needed to fulfil those objectives.

Goals describe a project's overarching purpose. They tend to be wide-reaching and related to senior management and client expectations. A project's success depends on achieving its goals.

Objectives fall into two broad categories:

•    Objectives achieved by undertaking the project work in an appropriate way, such as addressing safety, sustainability, work force development and stakeholder management.

•    Objectives achieved as a consequence of completing the work of the project -- successfully creating the deliverables transferred to the customer to meet the requirements defined in the project's scope statement, for example.

Objectives are the direct responsibility of the project manager, and he or she should be assigned the authority, responsibility and resources to achieve them.

Deliverables are the final product from either the project management processes or the performing organization. A successful delivery hinges on achieving the specified requirements of time, cost and scope while satisfying the key stakeholder's requirements.

There's more to project management than just deliverables. Focusing on them exclusively to the detriment of the project's objectives and the organization's goals is counterproductive. Project managers must understand how their deliverables will contribute to overall goals of the organization.


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While the PM may not be responsible for the derived benefits of their outcome, understanding the intended benefit and how it links to corporate strategy will surely enable better informed decision making?

In my sector, a quality, budget and timeline envelope is determined by each project with little/no ability for the programme manger to veer and haul these constraints between contributing projects.

If the PM has no interest in the corporate end-state and only focused on their project goals, there will be an incoherency in deliverables leading to wasted time, increased cost and a lack of customer satisfaction.

Just my experience and opinion.


Where do these "goals" and "objectives" come from? It seems hard to accept that the PM comes up with them.

A concept that is very common in aerospace and defense is the "customer" defining the needed capabilities that are turned into requirements, the plan and eventually the execution of the program. But the Program Manager does not define the needed capabilities.

Understanding the objectives makes you much more valuable to your customer. When you can provide input and ideas relative to the objectives, now you're really helping the client.

I respectfully disagree. Delivering business benefits is the responsibility of the program manager or project sponsor, not the project manager. The business benefit might be "increase sales by 10%." This is the result of a project to develop a new widget. If the widget is developed as specified with appropriate quality, on time and in budget, is it the PM's fault if it flops in the marketplace?

Understanding those benefits is certainly important to the project manager and team. It serves as the main motivation for the project team members and stakeholders. It can also help guide the development of deliverables when things are not clear.

The first category of objectives that you list, I would call constraints. These are organizational, environmental and perhaps legal considerations that have to be dealt with, but they are not usually considered to be the point of the project. A PM cannot ignore these, but I would not consider these to be objectives equal to deliverables.


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