Objectives vs. Deliverables

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Objectives Vs. Deliverables
Do you know your objectives from your Deliverables?
We had a really interesting discussion recently with some senior managers from an organisation that has responsibility for managing some of the biggest construction projects in Europe. One manager said, something along the lines of “If you asked 20 managers involved in the XYZ Project what its objective was, you’d probably get 20 different answers”. Interestingly, most of those answers would actually be about deliverables, not objectives. They’d tell you they were building a “new, bigger, better ABC facility”. So often, when people think about the projects they are involved in, they muddle their deliverables and their objectives. If you think you know the difference, or just want to remind yourself about why it might be important, read on… Let’s start with some definitions. Projects produce DELIVERABLES (sometimes called Products, or Outputs). In other words, what pops out of the end of a project is a Deliverable. Project example Eurofighter/Typhoon New Wembley Stadium London Cross-Rail Deliverable An aeroplane A Stadium A railway line, in a tunnel

As you can see, Deliverables can usually be seen, touched, or moved about. If you can get your hands on it, it’s probably a Deliverable from some project. At a more organisational level, you might have a project to recruit some new people. The deliverables are the recruits. A project to produce an advert, delivers an advert.

© 2007 Ad Esse Consulting Ltd.

a posse ad esse [from possibility to actuality]

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Objectives Vs. Deliverables

Now, the important thing is, Deliverables are only produced (or should only be produced) because there is a project that is trying to achieve some performance improvement for the organisation (often actually for a Sponsor, or key Stakeholder representing the organisation). That’s where Objectives fit in. An OBJECTIVE is a level of performance, or achievement. Objectives imply quantification of performance. In the recruitment project example, the objectives may be to: • • • increase capacity to perform particular tasks add new levels of skills and capabilities, to sell more products or services reduce customers’ waiting time at the point of sale

In our Advertising example it is even easier to identify the objective(s). They may be to: • • • generate an additional volume of sales create more, new customers raise awareness of our brand in the marketplace, or in a particular sector

In both these cases, it’s more important to know what the Objectives are, than to start by defining Deliverables. So, saying you have a project to produce an Advert, or to recruit some more people, potentially misses the point. Because they’re about performance levels, you can’t get your hands on an Objective! But, you can draw it on a graph.

Outcome

Performance

Time

You can express Objectives, quantitatively, on a Line Graph, showing how performance changes, over time. And, if you’re really serious about continuous improvement, you’ll also be showing target performance levels and relevant benchmark comparators on your trend graphs. So, if you can draw it on a graph, it’s probably an Objective. If you can touch it, it’s probably a Deliverable.

© 2007 Ad Esse Consulting Ltd.

a posse ad esse [from possibility to actuality]

2.

Objectives Vs. Deliverables

objectives come first
It need not be much more complicated than we’ve just described. Projects should only exist because there is a need to achieve, or change, a level of performance. In order to do that, one or more, deliverables will no doubt be required. Deliverables are not an end in themselves. They are the physical outputs that enable the Objectives to be achieved. Objectives come first. They should be expressed quantitatively, wherever possible; e.g.: • • • to grow sales by 5%, by the end of the year to reduce customer waiting time to less than 2 minutes, by the end of June to double our...
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