Project deliverables are an Independent’s bread and butter. Here’s how to plan, execute, and showcase yours.
You’ve nailed the interview, impressed the hiring manager, and found yourself at the beginning of an exciting new freelance project. How do you ensure you can produce and deliver everything the contract promises? The best way is to identify and schedule your project deliverables.
But what are deliverables, and how do you ensure yours meet expectations and get turned in on time? We have a few project management tips for planning and executing deliverables to make sure clients — and Independents! — have a great experience from start to finish.
What is a project deliverable? 📫
All projects have an end goal, usually a tangible product or service. It could be something small, like a social media post, or something much larger, like a book or music album. Project deliverables vary greatly between fields, industries, and even internal departments, but what matters most is that all parties understand and agree upon a given project’s desired end result.
Deliverables vs. objectives 🥊
If deliverables are the tangible outcome of a project, objectives are the broader ideas that fuel it. A project doesn’t serve much purpose if there are no benefits or goals expected to result from the deliverable.
Here’s an example: If a company realized they were missing out on the business of the Gen Z demographic, they might hire a freelance content creator to advertise through TikTok. As part of this campaign, the content creator would complete project milestones (writing the content, filming, and editing the video), eventually resulting in the project deliverable (an engaging, publishable TikTok). The end goal or objective would be getting more sales, and TikTok would help make that goal a reality by reaching a segment of the population that the company hadn’t previously tapped into.
Why are good project management tools important? 📋
The ability to meet due dates is a crucial freelance skill. Some clients use project management software like Asana, Jira, or ClickUp to make deliverable deadlines, checkpoints, dependencies, and project progress much easier to track.
If you’re on a contract where the project’s scope and execution are left entirely up to the Independent, you can determine which project management plan works best for you. Here are popular methods for keeping a project plan on track:
- Gantt chart. Gantt charts display a project’s progress on a timeline, making it easy to visualize what’s already been done, how much is left to complete, and how long it should take. If you’re working with others, a Gantt chart can break down each team member’s progress so everyone can get a detailed look at how the work is coming along.
- Kanban board. Kanban boards are like digital or physical whiteboards with tasks written on real or virtual sticky notes. The board is divided into columns representing the project’s different stages, and the freelancer moves the sticky notes from one column to the next as the project progresses.
- Project calendar. Independents who like everything laid out in advance should try a project calendar. This is an overall project schedule of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how long it's likely to take.
How to create a descriptive deliverable ✒️
Whether you’re a client posting a job opportunity or an Independent looking to land a contract, you’ll need to learn how to describe a deliverable before the project actually begins. Follow these five steps to write a descriptive deliverable:
1. Start from the beginning. 🕐
Think about every prerequisite that needs to be hit before you can get started on the project. Ask your collaborator as many questions as necessary to get up to speed, and keep them informed of any roadblocks you foresee popping up.
2. Set the acceptance requirements and deadlines for your listed deliverables. ⏳
Work closely with the client to establish deadlines that meet the requirements of everyone involved. Things inevitably come up, and life happens. Bear this in mind when establishing acceptance requirements and deadlines.
3. Create a process for deliverable approval. 💯
Once a deliverable is ready for the client’s eyes, establishing a reliable method for sharing the deliverable is crucial. Some clients will already have a process in place, but if no such framework exists, the freelancer and client must agree on a delivery and approval process that fits everyone's needs.
4. Visualize the end product. 🔍
Every completed project has an end product! It’s important to start the project with a clear vision of what the deliverable will look like so you’ll know what you’re working toward and feel confident the client is on the same page.
5. Measure the deliverables’ success. 🏆
A client’s initial satisfaction with your deliverables is just one way to measure the project’s success. Ask the client for quantifiable data showing how your contributions impacted their business, whether it’s an increase in leads, page views, sales, or any other relevant metrics. This data can tell you more about how effective the deliverable was at helping the company achieve its project objectives so you can better understand what works and what areas may need improvement.
Examples of project deliverables 🎯
Generally speaking, there are two types of deliverables: internal and external. An internal deliverable is intended for in-house use, rarely making its way into the hands of a customer or end user. External deliverables are shared with external stakeholders and customers. Here are a couple of examples of each:
- Internal examples
- A client requests that an Independent working on a brand redesign compile a report on competitors. This report will likely never be shared with customers, but it helps the client understand how a project will impact their business.
- A large company employs an Independent to craft a diversity training program. The eventual deliverable will directly impact employees, not customers.
- External examples
- A company hires a user interface (UI) designer to create a new website or overhaul an existing one. The end deliverable is an interface that customers will use.
- A client hires a freelancer to produce 12 blog posts over a period of three months. Each week, the company publishes one blog post for the public to read.
Where can I add my deliverables? 🗺️
Contra makes it easy for both clients and Independents to add deliverables. Here’s the rundown:
- For Independents
As an Independent, you can add deliverables for each service you provide. Be as detailed as possible, listing your skills, linking relevant examples, and discussing end-product deliverables so clients can get a feel for your work.
- For clients
When posting an opportunity, it’s important to understand and clearly state what end products you’re looking for from an Independent. Look back to our tips for writing a descriptive deliverable for guidance!
Explore opportunities with Contra 👀
And that’s it! Deliverables set the tone for the project, and they’re the first step to working with an amazing collaborator. Having a detailed deliverable mapped out at the start of a project makes it easier to stay on track and meet expectations. If you're in need of a Project Manager, don't wait! Join Contra now and connect with top talent to streamline your projects.