Project Management Dependencies: Types, Examples, and Explanations | (2023)

Today in this blog post, we will discuss project management dependencies.

Project management dependencies have a key role in developing the project schedule. You cannot develop your project network diagram before determining project management dependencies among the tasks.

If you are involved with project management and dealing with project planning and schedules, you must understand the dependencies in project management.

Project Management Dependencies

Dependencies in project management manage the task scheduling considering the activity and requirements. If task B cannot start until task A completes, you can say that task B is dependent on task A, and they have a finish-to-start relationship.

In project management, you have four activity dependencies:

  1. Mandatory Dependencies
  2. Discretionary Dependencies
  3. Internal Dependencies
  4. External Dependencies

#1. Mandatory Dependency

Sometimes these project dependencies are known as hard logic. Mandatory dependencies are legally required or are inherent and cannot be ignored. For example, you cannot lay the ceiling until you construct the walls.

The activity cannot be performed in this dependency until another activity is completed.

Example of Mandatory Dependency

An example of mandatory dependency is described below.

Your organization has been awarded a project to construct a 200 km pipeline from one city to another. It will involve navigating several terrains such as rail lines, streams/rivers, and motor highways.

Will you proceed without getting approvals from the relevant government authorities?

You cannot, as you require approval from various government agencies to proceed.

Other examples of mandatory dependencies are:

  • Parts sourcing before assembling.
  • Hardware installation before software installation.

Mandatory dependency can be external or internal.

(Video) What are Task Dependencies in Project Management?

#2. Discretionary Dependency

Sometimes, discretionary dependency is known as preferred, preferential, or soft logic. This dependency is at the discretion of the project management team.

You often have more than one way to accomplish a task, and the project management team decides if they want to follow a particular method or depend on the other. The decision is based on their experience, best practices, or lessons learned.

Example of Discretionary Dependency

For example, all electrical works must be completed before the painting starts.

Both activities can be performed independently in this dependency; however, the project team decides to do the electrical works first.

Another example is that plumbing work must be completed before electrical works start.

Discretionary dependency should be decided as per the best practices. In the example above, electrical systems should succeed plumbing, although the project team can do otherwise. Factors like convenience, economy, safety, etc., affect how we sequence activities.

Safety concerns influence the case above. Let all wet works such as plumbing be completed before we proceed to electrical wiring.

#3. External Dependency

External dependencies are external to the project, and the project team has no control over them. These activities are usually non-project activities—for example, relations with the vendor, client, or financial department of the organization, etc.

For example, you have a supply agreement with the supplier, and your activity depends on the materials supplied by the supplier who is external to your organization.

Example of External Dependency

Third parties impose external dependencies, such as the government or suppliers.

An OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) tells you that it will take six months to deliver pipes on site. This dependency is not within your control or discretion and is like a schedule constraint.

#4. Internal Dependency

These dependencies in project management are internal to the project management team, and they have complete control over such activities. While developing the project management plan, the project management team decides on this dependency.

Internal dependencies can be mandatory or discretionary.

(Video) What Are Dependencies In Project Management? [Project Management Training]

Activity Dependency Vs Activity Relationship

Many professionals consider activity relationship and dependency the same and use these terms interchangeably. However, they are wrong: although activity relationship and dependency are related, they are different.

A dependency lets you know if an activity relies on another but does not tell you how. It is possible that both activities can start together, or one after the other, or one of them must be completed for the other activity to start.

This is where the activity relationship comes into the picture.

Like dependencies, activities can have four types of relationship:

  1. Finish to Start
  2. Finish to Finish
  3. Start to Start
  4. Start to Finish

Finish to Start

Project Management Dependencies: Types, Examples, and Explanations | (1)

According to the PMBOK Guide, “Finish to Start is a logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot start until a predecessor activity has finished.”

This is the most commonly used activity relationship; it says activity B cannot start until activity A is finished. This is where the mandatory dependency comes in.

For example, you cannot start painting before you finish plastering the walls.

Finish to Finish

Project Management Dependencies: Types, Examples, and Explanations | (2)

According to the PMBOK Guide, “Finish to Finish is a logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot finish until a predecessor activity has finished.”

Activity A must be finished simultaneously with activity B. These two activities may not start simultaneously, but one cannot finish until the other is completed.

An example in the petroleum refining industry is HF (hydrofluoric acid) Alkylation, where isobutane and alkenes are converted to alkylate used to make gasoline.

The reaction generates a large amount of heat, so there must be continuous cooling water circulation. The cooling water circulation cannot stop until the HF Alkylation process stops. Therefore, this is a finish-to-finish relationship.

(Video) Types of Dependencies and Relationships in Project Management

Start to Start

Project Management Dependencies: Types, Examples, and Explanations | (3)

According to the PMBOK Guide, “Start to Start is a logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot start until a predecessor activity has started.”

Activity A must start at the same time or shortly after activity B starts.

An example is the conditioning of test equipment and the preparation of results recording tables: they occur simultaneously. A further example is the excavation of a trench and the laying of pipes a few days later.

Start to Finish

Project Management Dependencies: Types, Examples, and Explanations | (4)

According to the PMBOK Guide, “Start to Finish is a logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot finish until a predecessor activity has started.”

According to the PMBOK Guide, “Start to Finish is a logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot finish until a predecessor activity has started.”

Activity A must start before we can finish activity B.

For example, recipient labs must start their system conditioning before finishing distillation. Otherwise, distillates will be delayed before physical and chemical analysis takes place. This delay can result in product degradation.

Another example is when you cannot power off a standby generator until normal power is restored.

Dependencies in the Agile Team

Agile projects emphasize team collaboration, workflow, and productivity, as your work may have a finish-to-start dependency with other teams. These dependencies demand collaboration for a seamless workflow.

The more dependencies, the less predictable the work; therefore, it becomes harder to organize. This is called the upstream-downstream relationship. The output of upstream is the input of downstream. These hand-offs result in delays if they are not proactively managed.

Small teams rely on external dependencies such as skills import, whereas a cross-functional team may not require this. Dependency creates risk; therefore, it should be considered during sprint planning to use collaboration to manage such risks proactively.

(Video) Dependencies in Project Management — Episode 4

A Gantt chart helps visualize these activities, their sequence, and dependencies.

Project Management Dependencies: Types, Examples, and Explanations | (5)

Lessons learned register and expert judgment can also help detect delays due to external and internal dependencies in the past, forming a basis for decisions in the present.

Dependencies are documented as activity attributes because these play important roles during the sequence activities process. Agile uses Look Ahead modeling to identify dependencies on other teams. The team can address the dependency by re-prioritizing the work. This helps eliminate the waste of waiting.

As shown below, waiting is one of the seven wastes in software projects:

  1. Extra features
  2. Extra processes
  3. Partially done work
  4. Motion
  5. Waiting
  6. Task switching
  7. Defects

Dependencies can cause waiting.

How to Manage Dependencies in Project Management

The following guidelines can help you manage project management dependencies.

Identify and Map Dependencies

During the identify and sequence activity process, ensure you have identified all project activities, find the dependencies, and sequence them. Afterward, you can visually map these activities. Visualizing can help find more dependencies and ensure the identified dependencies are correct.

For this purpose, you can use a Gantt chart, Kanban board, and project network diagram.

Communicate with Stakeholders

After identifying dependencies and creating the sequence, you must communicate it to the project stakeholder to get their buy-in. They must understand the task dependencies and consequences of altering them in later stages of the project.

Update the Risk Register

Mandatory dependencies can cause risk. You must identify external and mandatory dependencies and ensure they don’t affect your project objective.

Keep monitoring the assumptions and constraints. While creating dependencies, you might have to consider many assumptions and be bounded by constraints. So these can also affect your project objectives. Keep watching project assumptions and constraints.

Develop Contingency and Fallback Plans

After identifying project dependencies-related risks, develop contingency and fallback plans to manage such risks. Fallback plans are used when contingency plans fail to contain the risk.

(Video) Dependencies in Project Management

Conclusion

Project dependencies are risk factors, and you must mitigate them during planning, regardless of whether it is a traditional or Agile project management methodology. The earlier they are identified, the more likely the project will avoid delays and meet the project deadlines.

How do you deal with project management dependencies in your projects? Please share your experiences through the comments section.

FAQs

What are the 4 types of dependencies? ›

4 standard dependency types in project management
  • Finish-to-start dependency. In a finish-to-start dependency, one element requires the completion of another before you can begin it. ...
  • Finish-to-finish dependency. ...
  • Start-to-start dependency. ...
  • Start-to-finish dependencies.

What are some examples of project dependencies? ›

As it relates to project management, a dependency is a task that relies on the completion of a different task. Examples of dependencies in project management: A company's PR statement is dependent on the CEO's approval of the messaging. A reimbursement is dependent on an expense report submission.

What are the dependencies in project management? ›

What are dependencies in project management? Every project has dependencies, which Max Wideman's Glossary defines as the “relationships between products or tasks”, i.e. tasks that require input from other tasks to be completed, or activities that can't start until a previous activity is done.

Which types of dependencies are most common? ›

Types of dependencies

The most common dependency relationship is a finish-to-start relationship. Task P (predecessor) must be finished before task S (successor) can start. The least common relationship is the start-to-finish relationship.

What does FS and FF mean in MS project? ›

The dependency types for predecessors are FS (finish-to-start), FF (finish-to-finish), SS (start-to-start), and SF (start-to-finish).

What are some examples of project management projects? ›

Wide range of project management tasks

Examples of projects may include the construction of a new bridge or building or developing software or even various web sources like torrent websites, online apps etc. for an improved business process.

What are examples of external dependencies? ›

An example of an external dependency is when a government agency must issue an operating license to a power plant before the facility can be turned on. The license is an external dependency.

How do you explain dependencies? ›

A dependency describes the relationship among activities and specifies the particular order in which they need to be performed. Dependencies arise in every decision making, planning and developing process and are ideally predetermined.

What is partial dependency and transitive dependency explain with example? ›

What is a transitive and partial dependency? Transitive dependency occurs when some non-key attribute determines some other attribute. On the other hand, partial dependency occurs when one primary key determines some other attribute/attributes.

What is data dependency explain types of data dependencies with proper examples? ›

A data dependency in computer science is a situation in which a program statement (instruction) refers to the data of a preceding statement. In compiler theory, the technique used to discover data dependencies among statements (or instructions) is called dependence analysis.

Which types of dependencies are most common is project schedules project management? ›

Finish to start dependency- This is the most common type of dependency in project management as well as real life.

How do you identify a dependency? ›

In order to identify project dependencies, you must first create a map of project tasks. Next, look for tasks that the team cannot perform until they receive information or deliverables from a previous task. Those tasks are dependent. Think of your whole project as a series of workflows or a flowchart.

What is upstream dependency and downstream dependency? ›

Example: “We have an upstream dependency on Claire's project to complete the infrastructure before our project can use it.” A downstream dependency is something your project must deliver before something else can start i.e. someone else is waiting for you to complete tasks before they can begin work.

What are the two types of dependencies? ›

There are four standard types of dependencies:
  • Finish to start (FS) A FS B means "activity A must finish before activity B can begin" (or "B can't start until A has finished"). ...
  • Finish to finish (FF) ...
  • Start to start (SS). ...
  • Start to finish (SF)

Why are dependencies important in project management? ›

Benefits of dependency management in project management software. You need to be aware of how each project task depends on others to create an achievable project schedule. It's the dependencies that help you work out the proper flow of the tasks.

How do you show dependencies in a project plan? ›

How to Create Project Dependencies in MS Project 2019 - YouTube

What are the 4 types of activity relationships? ›

There are four possible activity relationships, which are defined in the Project Management Institute's "bible of project management" — The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®). The relationships are Finish-to-Start, Start-to-Start, Finish-to-Finish and Start-to-Finish.

What does SS mean in project? ›

Start-to-start (SS) Indicates that the start date of the predecessor task determines the start date of the successor task. For example, the task of developing a script and the task of reviewing the script are closely related and should occur simultaneously.

What is ADM in project management? ›

Arrow diagramming method (ADM) is a network diagramming technique in which activities are represented by arrows.

What are the types of functional dependencies? ›

Types of Functional dependencies in DBMS:
  • Trivial functional dependency.
  • Non-Trivial functional dependency.
  • Multivalued functional dependency.
  • Transitive functional dependency.
Aug 21, 2021

How do you identify dependencies? ›

In order to identify project dependencies, you must first create a map of project tasks. Next, look for tasks that the team cannot perform until they receive information or deliverables from a previous task. Those tasks are dependent. Think of your whole project as a series of workflows or a flowchart.

What are dependencies in database? ›

A database dependency is a constraint that defines the relationship between attributes. It happens when information stored in the same database table uniquely determines other information stored in the same table.

What is functional dependency and types? ›

A functional dependency (FD) is a relationship between two attributes, typically between the PK and other non-key attributes within a table. For any relation R, attribute Y is functionally dependent on attribute X (usually the PK), if for every valid instance of X, that value of X uniquely determines the value of Y.

What is 1NF 2NF 3NF and BCNF? ›

Following are the various types of Normal forms:

A relation is in 1NF if it contains an atomic value. 2NF. A relation will be in 2NF if it is in 1NF and all non-key attributes are fully functional dependent on the primary key. 3NF. A relation will be in 3NF if it is in 2NF and no transition dependency exists.

What is transitive dependency explain with an example? ›

A transitive dependency therefore exists only when the determinant that is not the primary key is not a candidate key for the relation. For example, in the items table we have been using as an example, the distributor is a determinant, but not a candidate key for the table.

What is partial dependency and transitive dependency explain with example? ›

What is a transitive and partial dependency? Transitive dependency occurs when some non-key attribute determines some other attribute. On the other hand, partial dependency occurs when one primary key determines some other attribute/attributes.

What are the two types of dependencies? ›

There are four standard types of dependencies:
  • Finish to start (FS) A FS B means "activity A must finish before activity B can begin" (or "B can't start until A has finished"). ...
  • Finish to finish (FF) ...
  • Start to start (SS). ...
  • Start to finish (SF)

How do you check project dependencies? ›

To assign dependencies to projects
  1. In Solution Explorer, select a project.
  2. On the Project menu, choose Project Dependencies. ...
  3. On the Dependencies tab, select a project from the Project drop-down menu.
  4. In the Depends on field, select the check box of any other project that must build before this project does.
May 16, 2022

How do you show dependencies in a project plan? ›

How to Create Project Dependencies in MS Project 2019 - YouTube

Why do we use dependencies? ›

It provides a way to separate the creation of an object from its usage. By doing that, you can replace a dependency without changing any code and it also reduces the boilerplate code in your business logic.

Why do we need dependencies? ›

No project task exists in isolation. With the possible exception of the very first project task, each task or activity relies on other activities in some way. Whether it's waiting on the output of another task or for resources to be freed up, you need to manage many dependencies throughout any project.

What are dependencies in Gantt? ›

Dependencies specify the relationships between tasks. Use them to indicate when a task should begin or end in relation to other tasks. On the Gantt chart, dependencies appear as lines linking two tasks or linking a task to a milestone.

What is functional dependency and transitive dependency? ›

Transitive dependency is expressing the dependency of A on C when A depends on B and B depends on C. A functional dependency is an association between two attributes of the same relational database table. One of the attributes is called the determinant and the other attribute is called the determined.

What is 1NF 2NF 3NF in DBMS? ›

1NF: A relation is in 1NF if all its attributes have an atomic value. 2NF: A relation is in 2NF if it is in 1NF and all non-key attributes are fully functional dependent on the candidate key. 3NF: A relation is in 3NF if it is in 2NF and there is no transitive dependency.

What is difference between functional dependency and multilevel dependency? ›

According to database theory, a multivalued dependency is a full constraint between two sets of attributes in a relation. In contrast to the functional dependency, the multivalued dependency requires that certain tuples be present in a relation.

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