Understanding Dependencies in Project Management

In project management, identifying and handling a variety of dependencies is one of the most important tasks team leaders will manage. The challenge is that dependencies in project management are often complex. There are different types of dependencies that need to be considered in different project phases. In this article, we’ll dive deep into project dependencies by going over types, examples, and how Wrike can be used to seamlessly manage them all. 

What are project dependencies? 

Project dependencies, also known as task dependencies, are the order in which tasks should be performed. They allow you to work out the optimal order for the project, giving the fastest route through the work. For example, if Task B is dependent on Task A, Task A will need to be completed first in order for Task B to begin. 

Types of project dependencies

There are ten different types of dependencies in project management. You’ll need to be familiar with each of them to optimize your project planning. Some are intuitively named, but others may require additional explanation. Keep reading to learn these essential terms.

Casual dependencies

This type of project dependency is any task that follows the logical sequence of events. These are typically easy to assume

Resource-based dependencies

This dependency is created when more than one project requires the same resource for completion. The project will be dependent on the completion of each task and whether or not there is enough of that resource available for all project needs. 

Preferential-based dependencies

Preferential-based dependencies are unique to each team and have to do with best practices, established procedures, and the intuition of the project manager

Cross-team dependencies

Cross-team dependencies are when teams from multiple projects or departments need to work together to deliver an end-to-end solution.

External dependencies

An external dependency is a requirement that a task needs from a third party before it can proceed. This dependency often takes the form of an approval. 

FS dependencies

FS stands for finish-to-start. The finish date of the preceding task gives the date of when the next task will begin.

SF dependencies

SF stands for start-to-finish. The start date of the preceding task gives the date of when the next task will be completed. 

SS dependencies

SS stands for start-to-start. A start-to-start dependency means that a successor project cannot start before its predecessor has done so too.

FF dependencies

FF stands for finish-to-finish. This dependency tells the successor task to finish the predecessor's work. They don’t need to be completed at the same time, but one can’t finish unless the other is ending or has already ended. 

Outside-inside dependencies

An internal task has external dependencies in order to complete or vice versa.

Project dependencies examples

Now that you know all of the different dependencies, here are some examples of each one to help you better understand what they look like in real life:

  • Casual dependencies
    For example, to send an email, you must first write it. And before that, you’ll need the email address of the person you’re sending it to. These tasks would depend on each other and flow in order. 
  • Resource-based dependencies
    You may need eggs to prepare both your omelet and your pancakes for breakfast. The extent of both cooking projects will depend on how they utilize the shared resource. 
  • Preferential-based dependencies
    Some freelance writers may prefer to work without a blog post outline. However, the marketing team already has a custom workflow that involves giving them one. 
  • Cross-team dependencies
    The sales team may be working side by side with marketing on a new product launch
  • External dependencies
    A construction project may rely on a concrete supplier to deliver their product to the jobsite before they can begin pouring. 
  • FS dependencies
    In marketing, you may need to get approval on your quarterly budget proposal in order to launch your next paid advertising campaign on Facebook. 
  • SF dependencies
    If your company is redoing its logo, it will need to keep the old one while starting the new design before it can be replaced. 
  • SS dependencies
    A team of professional home cleaners must start the laundry and begin scrubbing the bathtub at the same time in order to provide their two-hour express service. 
  • FF dependencies
    If you’re redoing your website, you can simultaneously work on the backend code while also designing the user interface. The code will need to finish in order for the user interface to also go live. 
  • Outside-inside dependencies
    A wedding planner is waiting for a reception venue to confirm their availability on a set of potential dates before returning with a quote to their engaged clients. 

How to manage project dependencies with Wrike

Wrike is a project management tool that allows you to find, plan for, and manage a variety of complex project phases with task dependencies through features such as the Timeline and automated task dependencies

The Timeline feature allows users to plan and schedule tasks with drag-and-click support. It eliminates the need to create separate task lists for each project. Task dependencies are easy to view and piece together within a given timeframe. 

Wrike also offers individual task dependencies, a feature that automatically links tasks to each other and shows the downstream effects of each link. This feature makes it much easier to maintain an accurate project plan. 

And if any changes need to be made while the project is underway, managers can quickly rearrange employee schedules and to-do lists without losing sight of which tasks are already connected. 

Plus, Wrike offers robust communication features for stakeholders inside and outside of your immediate team. Loop in other departments through @mentions within tasks so they can quickly get up to speed with ongoing conversations and relay their informed input. Or, grant restricted access to third-party vendors and clients so they can seamlessly contribute to tasks as needed. 

Ready to master task dependencies and improve your project management strategy? Start Wrike’s free two-week trial today to better organize and execute complex project steps with ease. 

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