Project Objectives and Deliverables (Or “how do WBS”) Lately, I have been thinking about how to best plan a project, particularly in terms of objectives or deliverables. Based on my experiences at various companies and independent research, these are my current thoughts. Hierarchy I believe that this hierarchy is effective in most cases: Objectives >> External Deliverables> Activities. I have also seen people classify deliverables according to type.

  • Project Deliverables

    • Deliverables are usually made to external stakeholders
  • Planning Deliverables

    • Management plans, scheduling, budgeting, project artifacts and other related topics.
  • Activity Deliverables

    • Status reports, reviews, and meetings, etc.

This is something I have never done before. In smaller projects, the only deliverables that are identified are the “Project Deliverables” listed in the first bullet. However, I can see the benefits of identifying other types and distinguishing them. These identifying markers would be a great help in monitoring the health of your project. Not all deliverables are the same. It may not matter if you miss a status update. You may be in trouble if you miss a deliverable for a project.

  • Activities that don’t support a deliverable can be dropped or added/redefined as an option.
  • Deliverables that don’t support an objective (drop the deliverable, add/redefine an object)
  • No supporting deliverables for objectives (drop the objective and add deliverables).
  • Deliverables without supporting activities (drop the deliverable and add activities)

There are many options for establishing and maintaining traceability. Telelogic DOORS and other tools are available. Alternatively, you could use an Objective-Deliverable Breakdown Structure (ODBS?) This can be used to graphically represent the information. This is something I have done in a spreadsheet format, but you can easily make a graphic representation. This is an example of how this might look. The first is a spreadsheet representation. The second is the same structure graphically. As you can see, there are four project objectives. Except PO-4, all project objectives have at minimum one external deliverable. This objective does not have any deliverables with an external stakeholder. My guess would be internal project management processes such as management plans. Most external deliverables have an associated internal deliverable. PD-05 is an exception. This external deliverable requires no extra internal deliverables to support it. This external deliverable may be quite independent and only one set of activities is required to produce it. It does not require any additional deliverables from the project. Figure 1 Traceability should be down to the activity level, even though the links are in background or tools and are not displayed on artifacts such as these. The process is described in detail here:

  • Defining the Project Objectives
  • Identify external deliverables that are linked to project objectives
  • Identify Internal Deliverables, linking to Project Objectives(required) and external deliverables(case-by-case)
  • Use the links between objectives, deliverables and gaps to find orphans
  • Make any necessary adjustments based on the orphans or gaps found
  • Identify high-level Activities (groups or work packages) that are relevant to each deliverable
  • If you are unsure if the activities that will be required do not correspond to a deliverable, consider adding a deliverable to accommodate.
  • Any additional objectives, deliverables, and/or