Understanding Dependencies in Project Management
As we understand that we, as humans, depend on one another to meet our necessities which is impossible to do it in vacuum. The same scenario is applicable on Project Environment where No Project happens in isolation. A Project is always influenced by the environment which it is taking place. Hence managing the Project Dependencies is an essential skill for a Project Team.
Definition of Dependency
Dependency is the relationship that defines the order in which activities are carried out. Dependencies are critical to sequencing the Project Activities in the Project Plan, calculating the Critical Path, identifying the resources required to support those activities and identifying the opportunities to accelerate the Schedule via Fast-tracking or Crushing.
Types of Dependencies
Mandatory Dependencies, also known as Hard Logic or Primary Logic, are those dependencies that are legally required and their relationship may not be broken as they are inherent in the nature of work.
Consider two Activities A and B. If B has a mandatory dependency on A then Activity B- foundation filled with concrete cannot start before Activity A – a hole has to be dug.
Discretionary Dependencies, also known as Soft Logic or Secondary Logic, are those dependencies that may be changed when the plan is changed.
For example, if there are three holes to be excavated and only one excavator is available, then the order of these activities could be set with sequencing logic but can be changed at later stages.
Consider two activities A and B. If B has a Discretionary dependency on A then it means activity B can be performed even before activity A has been completed. It can also mean that A and B can be independently performed. However, the Project Team has chosen to make B dependent on A.
External Dependencies are the events usually outside the control of the Project team but can impact Project Schedule. In another word, external dependencies are between non-project activities and the project activities. The non-project activities are done by the people who are external to the Project like client and vendors etc. On the other hand, project activities are done by the Project team. For example, availability of the site to kick off work, or availability of the externally resourced equipment.
Consider two activities A and B. If B has an external dependency on A then it means activity B is a project activity while A is non-project activity.
Internal Dependencies are the events usually within the control of the Project team. In another word, internal dependencies are between two project activities. The project activities are done by the people who have a complete control over the Project.
Consider two activities A and B. If B has an internal dependency on A then it means both B and A are project activities. These activities are performed by the Project Team members.
Dependencies are inevitable in a project. You will rarely come across one in which all the tasks and activities are independent of each other. We should not confuse Project Dependency with Project Relationships (FS, SS, FF, & SF). These are two distinct terms and should not be mixed together.
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