Planning and Scheduling: Identifying Dependencies


Quick Summary
Screenshot This guideline illustrates how to identify work dependencies and provides a table for capturing them. Third in a series—see the Related Templates below for the others.


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What this is

This is the third in a series of templates for project plan and schedule development. This guideline illustrates the process for identifying work dependencies and provides a table for capturing these dependences. This process can be done before actual schedule creation in a tool, as it often leads to some repartitioning of the tasks in the work breakdown. Though software scheduling tools have powerful graphical interfaces for entering and managing task dependencies, doing an initial manual pass at high-level dependencies may actually help you repartition the tasks more efficiently, before estimates and dates add another level of complexity to the plan.


Why it's useful

Engaging in a dependency discussion is a logical step after the tasks are defined and some initial resource assignments are made, because this often has a major impact on the work definition and breakdown and subsequent estimates. It also acts as a communication stimulus among the team to better understand the inter-relationships and dependencies among their work. Dependency work usually results in some repartitioning of the tasks, so this process may be done iteratively with the preceding work breakdown efforts.


How to use it

  • Record task dependencies for items in the Work Breakdown Structure either by using the table on the last page of this file (which the team would have started filling in during WBS creation), or in a graphical tool such as a flow charter or scheduling program.
  • If using a scheduling tool, try to avoid assigning durations and dates during the initial identification of task dependencies. Focus instead on connecting tasks into the logical work sequence and integrating the higher levels of the WBS.
  • Plan to have the team review the overall schedule for dependencies—the team's collective eye will help find missing dependencies and differing assumptions, and result in a much more accurate schedule.

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Related Templates
Planning and Scheduling: Task Identification and Work Breakdown
Guidelines for developing a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to identify all the activities required to complete a project, with examples. First in a series.

Planning and Scheduling: Assigning Resources
Guidelines on identifying resources needed for each item in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), including a sample tracking worksheet. Second in a series.

Planning and Scheduling: Estimating Work and Costs
Guidelines on estimating effort, duration, and costs for items in the work breakdown structure (WBS). Fourth in a series

Planning and Scheduling: Project Schedule and Critical Path
Guidelines on scheduling activities to perform on WBS tasks in order to arrive at an integrated schedule in calendar time. Fifth in a series.

Planning and Scheduling: Make Trade-offs and Optimize
Guidelines for making trade-offs and optimizing the first-pass base schedule, to address conflicts among the scope, time, and resources/costs. Sixth in a series.

Planning and Scheduling: Create Project Plan Document
Guidelines for creating a project plan document providing project essentials like objectives, justification, and how the objectives are to be achieved, and describing how the project will be managed. Seventh in a series.



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