Dependencies and Execution

“Managing projects requires managing dependencies.” – Charlene Aldridge, President of Aldridge, Kerr & Associates, Inc.


Did you hear about the Builder that attempted to install the sinks before the foundation was laid? Or the IT Engineer developing enhancements to software before the original software had even been designed? Or that same Builder attempting to paint before walls were even built. Or the Baker icing a cake before it is baked? The answers to these questions are all the same: “of course not!” Some tasks simply cannot be performed until others have been completed.

As we continue our discussions on hints for effective execution, this month we will be focusing on understanding the role of dependencies in implementing any project or initiative. Although we may not think about it often, dependencies are an intricate part of our lives:

  • Plants are dependent on sunlight and water
  • Fish are dependent on water
  • Babies are dependent on caregivers
  • Ability to effectively function is dependent on enough sleep, food, water, shelter, etc.

Dependencies are sometimes, unfortunately, not considered when performing tasks related to any project or initiative. This can lead to the project stalling, creating wasted time, energy, and resources, or worse jeopardize the completion of the project.

Dependencies have a huge impact on any execution’s success. Here are some dependencies to consider:

  • Project constraints that drive dependencies related to time, cost, and/or the project’s scope
  • Resource dependencies: the resources available to perform the necessary tasks influence the ability to get the work done. The order in which tasks are done is partially driven by the availability of the resources as well as the expertise of those resources.
  • Expectational (or preferential) dependencies: the expectations of Leadership, the Project Team, the Customers, and other Stakeholders all impact what needs to be done and may become required dependencies.
  • External dependencies: the saying “the best laid plans” applies here. There will be some things outside the Project Team’s control that will impact the project’s completion. These unplanned delays should be factored into completing the project. In addition, subsequent tasks can easily be impacted due to these external factors.
  • Logical dependencies: the example of the Baker having to wait until the cake is baked before frosting it is a great example of a logical dependency. Some tasks simply must be performed in a certain order.

The success of any project or initiation is considering and planning for dependencies that could impact subsequent tasks. Planning for these dependencies will ultimately ensure a more successful execution of a project.

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