What are Project Dependencies?

by StarAgile

September 01, 2020
Category Project Management


Everyone is dependent on something or the other. Whether it is a child who relies on the parents, employees dependent on the salary, and motivation, in IT the program depends on libraries or plugins, etc. So no one works completely independently. 

It is unlikely that a project will not have dependencies;

Even in project management, there are dependencies. The project manager faces these dependencies and must counter them to be successful. These are nothing but the issues, events, tasks, people, activities, uncertainty, exceptions, and the 3 constraints such as scope, time and cost because of which the projects must be changed or move from normal mode to safe mode. The example for dependencies are something like ‘tasks A’ to start, depends on the ‘task B’ to complete or a web developer need to finish a ‘website A’ to start ‘website B’ etc

Top 5 reasons for the need for project dependency management

Dependency management is essential to control and manage the interrelated tasks or processes that are completed to deliver the customer requirements in the project.

1) To prioritize the tasks, resources, activities, and processes so that the projects get completed in the shortest period, with efficiency, less cost, and fewer resources, within the scope and with smooth progress.

2) So that the shortest path is followed in the project for completion

3) To manage the natural demand for the resources.

4) Efficiency is maintained in the project

5) To deliver the quality product to the customer

Four project dependencies examples and types 

1) Finish to Start – The completion of the first task must pave the way for the second task to start. End of Task 1 is the beginning of task 2. 

This type is explained in the diagram below,


These types of dependencies are natural, sometimes legally and contractually required.

Examples of these types of dependencies,

  • Laying the foundation for the house, then the construction of the floor
  • Building car prototype and then perform crash testing
  • Building plans to be approved and then the foundation is to be layed

2) Start to Finish – This means that the second task cannot complete until the first task is started. 


For example: - There is an old website running life, but you want to replace the old one with the new one, you will retain the old website unless the new one is completed.

For example: - The new software installation has to start before the old installation is removed

3) Start to Start – This type is that the second task cannot start unless the first task has begun. Both can go parallel to each other.


Example: - When cooking a meal once you start the main course you can start the starters and desserts.

Example: - A concrete floor cannot be started to be leveled unless the concrete is started to be poured.

4) Finish to Finish – In this type, the second task cannot be completed before the first task is also completed. Simply, the two tasks can run concurrently but cannot finish unless the first task is finished.


Example: - Wires cannot be fitted into the wall unless they are inspected. 

Example: - Two concurrent threads in computer programs running in parallel and the first task is waiting for the user input to finish. And the second task depends on the first task to finish in doing the calculations.

Effective ways to manage dependencies in project management

The steps to effectively manage the dependencies are listed below,

1) The first step is to create a log of all the project dependencies. You must take inputs from various stakeholders and make a list of all the dependencies and put them in a log register. Also include how to work on those dependencies, who will work on what, and who is responsible for the various dependencies. The project manager is in charge of the processes to manage the dependencies

2) The second step is to log all the constraints in the document. First, identify the 3 constraints and prioritize the 3 constraints such as the scope, cost, and time. However, you need to understand that all the 3 constraints cannot go overboard and are interrelated to each other if one move above, the rest of the 2 also moves away. So they are the critical dependencies to look for.

3) The third step is to include the major dependencies in the Project Initiation document as the PID is the document that is seen by the project sponsor and the project board. However, as discussed earlier your log will have a lot of low-level dependencies as well. The project manager must manage and control all the dependencies properly and must make the project a successful project. Ensure that the sponsor and the project board understand the key dependencies and the constraints for the particular project very well.

4) The fourth step is to include the major dependencies and the constraints as part of the risks in the risk register. The risk management approach document will address all the risks and you have risk assessment as one of the steps. As you know that the negative risks are treated in 6 ways such as to avoid, transfer, accept, mitigate, share, and prepare for the contingencies. This helps you in preparing for the dependencies in case they go out of control during the project.

5) The fifth step is to monitor all the dependencies from day 1. You have already identified, planned, and documented the dependencies, now you need to monitor, communicate, and report as well. You need to monitor the external dependencies that are which is outside of the project such as resource allocation etc and also the internal dependencies that are completion of task A, task B, etc. So one of the principles is to manage by 'reporting by exception', only when someone thinks that the project is not going right will they report to you. Next is having project meetings, team meetings, and customer engagement meetings regularly to communicate the progress and the dependencies. Then report the progress and the actual and real-time dependencies graph in the document.

5 tools used for managing the project management dependencies

1) Gantt Chart – For the dependencies planning and execution with the schedule.

2) Kanban – The pull system using the cards to streamline the process and avoid wastage in the projects.

3) Logic Network – The sequence of the activities to be planned and executed over time.

4) PERT – Program Evaluation and Review Technique used to prioritize the tasks and break down the work into smaller tasks. Uses a circle or rectangles for the help of nodes or milestones in the project.

5) CPM – Critical Path Method determines the shortest path to complete the project considering the duration of each task and its dependencies.

Final Thoughts –What are dependencies you have in managing projects 

You being a project manager you are solely responsible to identify and set expectations and take the projects to success. One of the key factors for the success of the project manager and the projects is to manage and control the dependencies. 

To know more about blogs on various topics keep reading the StarAgile website. To explore and register for the project management online training and certification such as Prince2 foundation and practitioner Training, Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM from PMI), Project Management Professional, Six Sigma, and many other trainings click on the StarAgile link given. 

Happy Project Management!!!