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5 Steps to Manage Project Dependencies

Project activities hardly exist in isolation. Each task relies on the output of another activity, and everything contributes to the final result of the project. Therefore, whether you manage a simple or complex project, you will encounter dependencies. Knowing how to manage them across teams and departments is crucial in driving projects. Marian Haus, in writing for Voices on Project Management, lists five simple steps:

  1. Assess and document potential project dependencies.
  2. Align and interlock scope.
  3. Align dependency timelines.
  4. Monitor and control dependencies throughout the project.
  5. Collect sign-offs.

Managing Dependencies Is Reducing Risks

You need to accept that there are multiple steps to move from one goal to another. First, you must figure out each dependency’s type, profile, specifications, timeline, and owner. You can have different systems to document HR dependencies and non-HR dependencies. Or you can use one single spreadsheet where you store all your dependencies organized categorically. After that, developing a clear and realistic scope for each dependency will make it easier for the team to fulfill it.

It is advisable to estimate when your dependency is needed and how long it takes to be completed. Interlock the timeline to secure its on-time delivery. Even after your dependencies are available, you still need to constantly keep an eye on them. It may be impossible to look after your dependencies from the very beginning, but you should at least maintain and review your dependencies list throughout the project in case new dependencies emerge.

Sign-offs are as important as interlocks. You have to secure and collect them from your counterparts. Haus writes this:

Interlocks enforce commitment, responsibility and accountability, whereas sign-offs confirm the delivery or the fulfillment within the agreed boundaries.

For instance, an end-user outside of your project team will sign-off on the product change your project generated, confirming that it conforms with his or her requirements or expectations. Or an interface project team will sign-off on your revamped software component, confirming that your project’s outcome did not break their related components or business processes.

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About My Nguyen

My is a staff writer for AITS. She has a varied background in writing and marketing, having previously worked for the World & Vietnam Report among others.

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