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What Are Project Dependencies And How Do I Manage Them With Ease?


Every project comes with a baggage of project dependencies, but don’t worry, there’s a method to this madness. Let’s uncover how project or task dependencies are an indispensable part of project management and how these can affect the functioning of your team as a whole. 

What Are Project Dependencies? 

Max Wideman’s Glossary describes project dependencies as the “relationships between products or tasks”. 

Dependencies in a project occur when a certain task requires the completion of some other task/set of tasks for their own commencement. 

Project dependencies

For example, 

The cake can be baked and the icing can be prepared by a team simultaneously, thus, being independent tasks. However, you cannot bake your cake unless you have preheated the oven at an earlier time, thus making one task dependent on the other.

Or, for instance, speaking in content marketing terms, a piece of content cannot be published until the writers’ team can provide appropriate content for the same.

From the above-mentioned examples, it is clear why dependencies exist, however, it does not explain why we need a whole article to learn about them, their importance, or ways to manage them. 

Let me tell you why we need to have this conversation.

In elaborate projects or in projects that are planned on an enterprise level, we tend to pick a direction, map out a definitive number of tasks, define assignees, and set deadlines and that’s it—we’re good to go.

But, are we?

What if 2 out of 10 people from the writing team are on leave? 

How will the tasks that are next in line be delivered on their deadlines? 

Seems like the whole project’s timeline is going to be sabotaged. Does that alarm you? It should. This could happen to any team within any project.

Dependencies are easy to overlook since plans are mostly made keeping the best-case scenarios in mind. 

What if your people were to fall sick? 

What if your office was in need of a sudden renovation? 

What if you run short on resources? 

What if the client suddenly changed the whole scope of the project? 

These are the kind of questions we forget to take into consideration while building up the plans for a project. And, it is also why project dependencies need your undivided attention.

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5 Of The Best Ways To Manage Project Dependencies

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

Instead of jumping to the execution stage, one needs to be prepared for everything, take time to build a foolproof plan, and sharpen one’s proverbial axe more comprehensively. 

Therefore, project dependencies or not, one needs to make sure that the whole process goes smoothly, that everything comes together in the end, no matter how many adversities strike you on the way. 

Here are some examples of what you can do:

#1 Active Risk Management

Discrepancies are bound to come your way as a project takes shape, however, we must always have a fallback plan for these with some risk management strategies. 

Risk management is a longtime investment and a real asset to your planning process. It can help you assess, identify, control, and manage threats to your project before they even happen.

risk management

For risk management analysis and execution, we need to have certain parameters in place that can help us foresee damage and thus, keep store of extra resources. Here’s what you can do to keep that in check:

  • Use Gantt charts to map out your projects and keep tabs on project dependencies. 
  • Use tracking software to track progress and time activity to ensure everything is working as it is supposed to.
  • Assign risk probability to tasks using a scale of 1-10 or whatever else feels appropriate.
  • Assign risk impact on a similar scale to all particular tasks, especially ones that carry dependencies. 
  • Estimate and map out the timing of the risks that could cause a significant impact on the project timeline.

While you define tasks, their deadlines, and manage project dependencies, you will also run into situations that can muck up your project, therefore, it is wise to invest your time and resources into doable risk management measures.

#2 Using Gantt Charts

To manage a particular aspect of a project, you need to be able to see what you are going to manage. For example, project dependencies can be managed in a better way when you can visualize them. That is where Gantt chart tools come in handy.

gantt chart as project dependencies

Gantt charts, as we talked about before, can help teams track and manage project dependencies with ease. Here’s why Gantt charts work:

  • These help you visualize tasks.
  • These help you set deadlines and get a bird’s eye view of the whole project. 
  • These help you manage time and overlook the project timeline. 
  • These help you maneuver through all the tasks and modify task durations and project dependencies.
  • These help you assign tasks to your teammates and get quick access to important files as well as feedback.

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#3 Making Use Of Timesheets

Time tracking is another measure one needs to take seriously while trying to manage discrepancies and project dependencies. Time tracking tools or elaborate timesheets can help you keep tabs on where time and other resources are being used. 

Timesheets help keep a record of how much time is going into the progress of your project. Apart from that, it will also help you judge employee performance and track billable hours. 

timesheets for time tracking

Additionally, timesheets help map out how much progress has been made and how much work is yet to be completed as you compare real-time progress with the initial plans. 

This will help you set more accurate time estimates for future projects and help you foresee where improper usage of time could be a major occurrence.

Apart from that, it will also help you overview how much time is being given to specific tasks and thus help you map out how those particular tasks should be approached and hence, completed ASAP. 

Timesheets offered by the top time tracking tools out there will, in essence, help you manage time and other resources in a more efficient way. Which, in turn, will help you make sure that everything is going according to plan.

#4 Transparency Within Teams

Another practice that will help you ensure smooth management of tasks and dependencies is enforcing transparency at the workplace. 

Did you know?

> 50% of full-time employees feel that their performances are being held back due to the lack of transparency at the workplace.

> Over 46% of employees out there say that the lack of transparency at their former workplace is what drove them to find new jobs. 

> And, 70% of workers state that they feel more connected to their jobs and engaged in their work when the senior management communicates openly with them.

Transparency is important because:

  1. It keeps everyone on the same page.
  2. Lowers the chances of miscommunication and confusion. 
  3. Keeps everyone informed. 
  4. Hence, helps you save time and be more efficient.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure transparency in your workplace.

Use a communication/collaboration tool to be in constant contact with your team: These will help you out no matter if you are working remotely or from your shared office space. You can trust these tools to actively help you exchange ideas, updates, important reference links, and more on the go. 

For this, you could use software platforms such as Chanty and Troop Messenger.

Have a daily 15-minute stand-up meeting: Stand-up meetings are the kind that are more popular within Agile teams that follow the Scrum framework. These are important 15-minute meetings that help bring the whole team up to speed about what has been achieved, what has been happening, and what is yet to be done. 

These two points will help you make significant changes in the team culture of your team. Additionally, this improving transparency will help you foresee trouble and deal with inconsistencies and other issues with much more ease.

Also Read: How Transparent Should You Be As a Leader?

#5 Setting Weekly Goals

This might come as a surprise to you, but setting weekly goals removes all reasons for keeping track of project dependencies. Here’s how:

  1. Weekly goals will help you focus on little portions of the projects, minuscule tasks that can be mapped out beforehand according to their urgency and priority. 
  2. These goals will help the team focus more on the task at hand. Therefore, there is no chance that they would get overwhelmed by the pressure of the upcoming tasks. 
  3. Also, weekly assigned tasks will make it easier for the reviewing party to provide feedback in a more timely manner.

set weekly goals

But setting weekly goals isn’t as easy as it sounds. Anyone can set goals, but the thing is, that these should be doable. Here are two things you need to keep in mind while setting weekly goals:

  • Make sure that the tasks to be performed in the coming week are in order of priority.
  • You must provide a realistic deadline for these tasks so as to ensure that these, indeed, should get completed within the week. 
  • Document everything and constantly record progress.

Here’s How ProofHub Could Be An All-in-one Solution

ProofHub could be a definitive management solution to all kinds of problems that accompany project dependencies and other vulnerable spots in a project. 

ProofHub for Project dependencies

How so?

That’s easy, you see, ProofHub is a robust software solution that is built to help teams manage time, prioritize work, and sort through the details in a project with the utmost efficiency

In fact, a feature-filled, intuitive software platform like this one can help you overcome virtually every project management challenge you may find yourself in.

Here are a few examples of what this tool can help you achieve:

> Tracking Tasks:

ProofHub facilitates teams with a lot of structured views to visualize, manage, and track ongoing tasks while navigating through multiple projects.

Gantt Charts to view tasks, task dependencies, and the whole project timeline. It helps teams understand how individual tasks fit into the whole project. 

Kanban boards to help the team collaborate through well-mapped workflows that help get a better understanding of ongoing tasks as well as the upcoming ones. 

Calendar view to help you overview tasks, events, and milestones to keep track of everything on the agenda.

Table view to help you view all your tasks along with important descriptives like due date, expected duration, task stage, task status, percentage completed, and priority level among more, all on the same screen.

> Tracking Time:

ProofHub also acts as a fully-equipped time tracking software that helps track time data on the go. It offers an activity portal that helps you overview all the progress being made by all your individual teammates. And apart from that it also helps you:

  • Schedule tasks, events, and milestones.
  • Record payable and billable hours in timesheets. 
  • Track how much time is being spent on a particular project.
  • Set timers for tasks to record how much time is being dedicated to which task. 
  • Set reminders for important milestones and events.

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> Keeping Organized:

Not only is ProofHub an adept tool for managing tasks and projects, but it is also a safe house for your files and information, and an organized one at that. It will help you store information in a sorted and organized way that will ensure that you never lose anything while you progress.

  • It has many filters to help you sort information on the basis of the project, date, tasklist, assignees, and more.
  • It helps you store and organize documents and media files on a centralized platform. 
  • It helps document ideas and meeting inputs through Discussions.
  • It will help you maintain a company wiki or a reference forum for you to come back to in case you are looking for information that isn’t particularly dynamic through Notes.
  • It will help you maintain Notebooks pertaining to different topics, tasks, or projects to ensure that all necessary information is centralized.

> Bringing People On The Same Page:

Apart from providing you all the management and organizational elements, ProofHub will also help you collaborate with your team through seamless communication. Here’s how:

  • It facilitates one-on-one communication through instant messaging. 
  • It offers group chats for conversations within the team.
  • The workflows keep the team updated and always in the loop.
  • It offers discussions to document ideas and collaborate to come to quick conclusions.

In Conclusion

I hope that with the help of this article, you got a better understanding of what project dependencies are. To revise what you had learned, you need to know that for our projects to run their course smoothly we need to be careful about these dependencies in the planning stage. Let’s vow to learn from these tips and get better control over our project management practices in the time to come.

 Nandini Sharma
Nandini Sharma

Nandini Sharma is the Assistant Marketing Manager at ProofHub - a powerful project management software loved by more than 85000+ teams and businesses worldwide. She brings unparalleled expertise in digital marketing through her years of experience in the field; especially when in the area of brand building, targeting a large audience and building strong connections with them. When not busy in creating winning marketing strategies, she can be found involved in art and craft activities.

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