Is a Plan a Deliverable?

Have you ever prepared a project plan, presented it to someone, and they said, "This is great! We'll use it as a deliverable."?

I have had this happen on more than one occasion. It completely hits me the wrong way...

Here's what I find wrong with this idea of using a plan as a deliverable:

  1. A great plan is typically a document that explains how you will accomplish something. Among other things, it outlines what the deliverables are.
  2. The PMBOK Guide discusses the Project Plan as an artifact that is developed as part of the process of managing the project. However, it does not imply that it is a deliverable of the project.
  3. It could be construed to be a deliverable of the project team in the sense that the project team needs a project plan, project communication plan, schedule, and other artifacts that address important aspects of the process of delivering the product of the project. However, they would not exist or be needed if we did not want the product of the project.

Plans are valuable! They can make or break a project. But that does not make them, in and of themselves, a deliverable!

When someone develops a business plan, they don't have a business just yet. The business at some point will be built, and at some point should be capable of providing some goods or services in the marketplace at a profit, or some tangible value in a non-commercial organization...and thus creating value.

The plan is valuable, and sometimes investors pay big money - up to millions, and occasionally billions! - for a plan, if they are convinced it points the way to deliver the results.

But the key is in the phrase "deliver the results". The plan is valuable and necessary, but does not deliver the results. The plan is a means to an end - but the "end" is the deliverable. It's best, in the end, to plan well...and then to meet your deliverables!

In short, I think it's a bit of a cop-out to think that a plan is a deliverable. In my experience, I've seen people use it as a proxy for having to do anything else more tangible and measurable. I'm all for plans...and all for deliverables!

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