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Deliverables and milestones – how the EC monitors project implementation

Behind every successful project there is a detailed project plan that was carefully developed during the proposal preparation stage. These rock-solid project plans consists of a number of components including a risk assessment, a project’s background, its goals/objectives, the financial and human resources needed to reach them etc. However, today I’d like to focus on two other components, i.e. the deliverables and milestones of a project and the importance of clearly defining them and their delivery dates already at the proposal drafting stage since they are the key products the European Commission requires for monitoring project implementation. 

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So, what are deliverables and milestones exactly?

Well, a deliverable is a distinct, tangible or intangible outcome of your project that is produced during the project’s course. Deliverables are developed by your project team members in alignment with the overall objectives of your project. Let’s call them the building blocks of your project. The Horizon 2020 Work Programme recognises 4 types of deliverables: R: document, report (NOTE: excluding the project periodic or final reports), DEM: demonstrator, pilot, prototype, plan designs; DEC: websites, patents filing, press & media actions, videos, etc. and OTHER: software, technical diagram, etc.

Milestones on the other hand, are checkpoints in the project that help you chart progress throughout the course of the project. These control points help identify that a number of tasks or key deliverables have been completed allowing you to move on to the next phase of your project.

The difference between a milestone and a deliverable is that a milestone signifies project progress towards obtaining its end objectives, a stepping stone that must be reached in order to continue, whereas a deliverable is a measurable result of this process.

When planning your deliverables and milestones keep the following in mind:

  1. The true purpose of your project and its goals. The deliverables and milestones you define must inevitably lead up to the end objectives of your project.
  2. Realistic timelines. As a beneficiary of EU funds, you will be obliged to report project implementation by submitting the listed deliverables according to the delivery dates you set for yourself at the proposal stage.
  3. Link deliverables to tasks.
  4. Preparing a thorough list of your project deliverables will help you determine the project schedule and its expected completion date allowing for a more successful delivery of your project.
  5. It is recommended to limit the number of deliverables and possibly consolidate them into meaningful clusters.

Małgorzata Wójcik, 
Researcher, GAEU Consulting