The WHAT phase of the project describes the deliverables, the things, the "tangible, verifiable, work products" the project was commissioned to create. In defining WHAT we use nouns to break down the one key product or service into its constituent parts. The PMBOK calls this process "Decomposition." We must decompose the project deliverable into smaller, more manageable deliverables. We must also describe the deliverables in detail. Depending on the nature of the deliverable some will be described in great detail and some will only be roughly described. The key in this phase is to stick to nouns and adjectives, no verbs. This phase is not about HOW you do it but WHAT you are creating.

Some deliverables, such as a service present a challenge to state only in terms of nouns. The trick is to consider the physical, tangible evidence, that will exist and proves the service exists and is operating as expected. For example, if your deliverable is a service deliverable to enhance friendly service by 20%, you have to ask, what evidence will I present to the client, customer, or sponsor, that proves that "friendly" service exists? Will you use surveys? If so, the deliverable is "survey results indicating a 20% increase in friendly service." This seems like a long title for a deliverable yet it is important to keep those responsible focused on the end result, not the tasks.

This phase includes key housekeeping steps such as setting the quality standards for the deliverable and its inputs, defining the identifiable risks and assumptions, and establishing the three trade-offs for each deliverable. In order to keep everyone informed of project status you will also complete the Project Status Report Matrix.

Each deliverable requires certain inputs, has action steps that create it, and provides outputs. Using the basic SIPOC model of Supplier, Input, Process, Output, and Customer, we must link all the deliverables. Each deliverable identified has required resources that must be provided to the person or group responsible for that deliverable in order to do the work of creating the results. We must identify what those inputs are and from where they come.

For example, if the deliverable is "Project Server 2003 installed, configured, and ready for test," what input do you require? There must be a server, the software, license keys, and EIF documentation. Who on the team will provide those items? You will discover that the inputs for each deliverable come from only two sources; someone else on the team creates or provides them, or you must procure them. In addition, every output has one of two destinations (sometimes both); they either go to the customer, or to another deliverable. The objective is to ensure that all inputs are identified and verify they match to the output of another deliverable or to the procurement list. You must also ensure that every output matches to another deliverable as input or goes to the customer.  Often you will discover required inputs nobody thought to create or purchase. You may also identify outputs that nobody has requested. These outputs could be wasted effort or an indication that another deliverable has not been properly defined. These gaps would have stalled your project had they not been discovered. This process creates a chain of deliverable development that shows the sequence of the project.

Your team is the key to your success. In this phase you will use our unique "Team Launch" system to ensure you choose the best people for the work and get them started correctly to become productive fast. We understand that you don't always get to pick your team. That is why team launch includes the necessary components to get teams that are new to each other or have long worked together off to the right start for this project. It is here that project management systems break down. Doing the work of this phase is not complicated. Providing the right leadership is.

The Project Ball System includes the templates, action steps, quality checklists, FAQ, and a list of tips for developing the items of this phase.