Definition

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Management by Deliverables

(Alias: Earned Value Management)

Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves
             - Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Management by deliverables is a project management principle that calls for all project planning and monitoring to be achieved through production of visible work products. The principle is applied on a project by judging progress by what is produced rather than by someone's subjective opinion of project status. This notion is the core tenant behind the Earned Value Management Discipline which places a baseline value on each deliverable at project commencement and credits the project with that value when the deliverable is completed. Refer Earned Value Management metric: Project Percent Complete.

Project managers who apply this principle tell their teams, "If you can't see it or touch it, it does not exist".

Benefits of Management by Deliverables

Percent complete calculated in deliverables is accurate and defensible because it is based on physical evidence. Its integrity cannot be corrupted by emotions, personal prejudices, over active imaginations or "expert opinions".

The 5 Rules of Management by Deliverables

  1. All tasks must produce a deliverable. A tangible outcome of human effort
  2. Set delivery intervals at 5 to 10 days (3 weeks maximum)
  3. Obtain commitment from the developer on the schedule for deliverable creation
  4. Monitor the progress of large deliverable creation with intermediate analytical deliverables
    (technical investigation reports, outlines, draft specifications, rough notes)
  5. Formally inspect and accept the completed deliverable.

A Case Study of Management by Deliverables

A project manager gives a system analyst the job of eliciting, analysing and documenting the software requirements of a manufacturing management system. The deliverable is a Software Requirements Specification (SRS). It is agreed that the activity should take three months. The project manager checks back with the analyst in three months to find that an SRS has not been produced. The analyst had problems getting the right people and those users he had spoken to were indecisive about their needs. This analysis paralysis has meant that nothing of value has been produced.

Applying the principle of Management by Deliverables the project manager should have asked for:

  1. A Requirements Development Plan within one week of the start date (refer Joint Application Design, JAD/Plan)
  2. A high-level functional model of the system within three weeks
  3. A Software Requirements Specification document outline within six weeks
  4. Reporting of progress on each major functional area on a weekly basis
  5. A preliminary review of a draft SRS release two weeks prior to the completion date
  6. A final review and sign off of the SRS by the completion date.

This approach would have given the project manager precise visibility of progress and allowed him to take early corrective action on any problems encountered.

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