Project delivery goes beyond managing the iron triangle of cost, scope, and time. Success relies on mastering a range of project delivery methodologies, various ways of working, and building robust project delivery skills. 

In this guide, we explain project delivery, give an overview of the leading project delivery frameworks and provide some pointers on how to grow the right skills to deliver successful projects. Let’s start with a definition of project delivery. 


What is project delivery? 

In project management, project delivery is the process of undertaking and completing all project requirements. It involves meticulous planning, resource management, and problem-solving by skilled project professionals.  


Successful project delivery is more than scope, time, and budget. Intended benefits must be delivered and realised for investment to be considered a success. 

2021 AIPM and KPMG Project Management Survey Report 


Delivering projects successfully is the key role of project managers, but according to our research, success is not a given: 


Source: 2020 AIPM and KPMG Project Management Survey


So, what can you do to improve your project delivery outcomes? Let’s explore some key planning tools, methods, and skills to focus on. 


What are the stages of project delivery? 

Often referred to as the project life cycle, you’ll steer your project through five phases.  

  1. Initiation: define what needs to be done 
  2. Planning: work out how you’ll do it 
  3. Execution: make the project happen 
  4. Monitoring: keep the project on track 
  5. Close: hand off deliverables and review results 


What is a project delivery plan? 

A project delivery plan details how different parts of the project will be carried out. They are the ‘how’ of the project. Project delivery plans usually include a description of what the plan covers, dependencies, assumptions, scope, schedule, budget, and controls. 

Delivery plans are a useful communication tool. They ensure the project team, management, and stakeholders know how the project delivery will occur. They can be prepared:  


Want to improve your project planning skills?  

Look for an approved course in our directory. 


What project delivery methods can you use? 

Project delivery methodologies are sets of principles or frameworks that guide you to achieve your project goals. They are generally classified into agile, waterfall and hybrid methodologies. But what’s the difference? 



Agile project delivery is iterative and incremental, with teams working concurrently on different phases of the project. Agile approaches are flexible and good for projects where the desired outcome isn’t known at the beginning of the project. For instance, in software development, the ideal solution is developed during the project. Agile approaches include Scrum, Lean, Six Sigma, and Kanban. 

Waterfall project delivery is linear, with teams completing each project phase and then moving on to the next. It’s useful where the project deliverables and outcomes are clear from the beginning and deliverables need to be completed from each stage to keep progressing. Construction projects often use waterfall approaches because deliverables need to be completed in a set and known order. Waterfall approaches include Praxis Framework, TenStep, and ISO21502, and traditional methods such as PRINCE2 and PMBOK Guide. 

Hybrid project delivery uses a mix of agile and waterfall approaches. With the rise of complex projects in volatile delivery environments, there is increasing recognition that different parts of the project might suit agile and some waterfall. Project managers of the future need to be adaptable and skilled at weaving together the right tools and techniques from both camps to succeed. 


What project delivery frameworks are organisations using? 

Traditional project delivery frameworks are still popular, but the adoption of agile methodologies and practices across organisations continues to grow. 

According to our research, if you exclude infrastructure projects, agile adoption sits at 73%. Most organisations that have adopted agile use a hybrid approach, implementing a mix of agile and waterfall methodologies. 

Interestingly, only 28% think using agile frameworks improved success rates, mainly because of lack of training and lack of business engagement.  If these barriers can be overcome, hybrid approaches present opportunities for innovation and improved delivery. 

Here are some thoughts on project delivery methodologies from our community. 


“[The project delivery method used] depends on the complexity of the project to be executed. I have learnt to always adapt project management methodologies to complexity of projects in order to deliver projects successfully and business results to the organisation. One size does not fit all.”

Olufemi Tolulope Ogunsiji, project management professional



Source: 2020 AIPM and KPMG Project Management Survey


5 quick tips for better project delivery

There are so many inputs into project success that it’s hard to know what to focus on. Our recent survey of project professionals indicated the two main contributors to project success were:

  1. Strong and active leadership with a clear vision
  2. Strong relationship and stakeholder management and collaboration 


So, your leadership skills and communication skills are the big hitters. Here are our five top tips to get you started:

  1. Get the scope right: agreeing precisely what you’re delivering sets you up for success. The scope will clarify what you’re delivering and what you’re not, keeps the team focused, prevents scope creep, provides a delivery roadmap, and helps meet delivery expectations.
  2. Communicate your vision: make your goals crystal-clear and invest time in making them known. You can use a range of communication channels, styles, and techniques to share information. Always customise the communication to best suit the audience.
  3. Keep stakeholders happy: engaged stakeholders won’t derail your project delivery plans. Influence project delivery outcomes by consulting, negotiating, and building strong, trusting relationships with your stakeholders.
  4. Trust your team: put the right resources in place and let them get on with it. When you build a strong team, they don’t need to be micro-managed. Recruit people with diverse skills and empower them with a collaborative culture that appreciates their expertise.
  5. Lead by example: think outside the box and be innovative and adaptable in the face of change. Refocus the team on project delivery as needed. Own your mistakes and build a culture of accountability.


What skills does a project delivery manager need?


Project management theory and methods are the foundation, but success relies on technical competency and developing strong personal skillsets.

2021 AIPM and KPMG Project Management Survey Report


Project managers responsible for delivering projects need a wide range of skills to succeed. 

Technical skills like planning, scheduling, budgeting, risk management, and complex problem solving are a given. Project managers need expert skills in all these areas to deliver their projects.

Behavioural skills like leadership, communication, resilience, and adaptability are becoming even more important as the complexity of projects increases. Project managers aren’t just responsible for delivering projects. They need to manage people, uncertainty, and business benefits.


Want to build your project delivery capabilities?

How good are you at having difficult conversations and managing conflict? Can you lead in ambiguous situations? Are you a visionary and agent for change in your organisation?

On the job experience is important but developing expert-level project skills requires ongoing education. And over half of the project managers recently surveyed believed businesses aren’t investing enough in developing skills to deliver projects successfully. 

The Australian Institute of Project Management exists to support project professionals build their skills throughout their careers. Becoming an AIPM member opens the door to a world of professional development opportunities, such as certification, courses, resources, webinars, events, and mentoring.

Find out about the range of project delivery methodologies and how you can build robust project delivery skills.