My old university lecturer (yes, you can do university degrees in Project Management), always said to us all on every assignment… ‘where’s ya Project Breakdown Structure?’…… ‘How do you know what you are planning to deliver?’
Those words are constantly ringing around in my head, and when I coach and mentor Project Managers, I often find myself repeating those same words.
My old lecturer came from project management in a Civil Engineering and Construction background, and I guess the nature of the beast is to define what the project is to deliver, before you start building the products and putting it together. Too often do I see too many projects which are failing because they simply have not agreed with the sponsor (and stakeholders) what the project should deliver and the specification of those products.
Very simply, a Project delivers outputs, and a programme delivers outcomes.
Outputs – tangible items you can touch, feel or see
Outcomes – benefits and changes
So if projects deliver outputs, we could call these products; think of a cup of coffee from a take away coffee shop….. the products could be the paper cup, the lid, the cuff , the drink itself, the sugar and toppings, the equipment used to make the coffee etc etc, and we can place these into a Product Breakdown Structure.