Dependency management

Dependency management is absolutely essential to successful project delivery. A dependency is where one project uses or relies on the functionality/milestone of another project or external source.

These dependencies can be one of three types:

  • dependencies between workstreams within a project (intra-project)
  • dependencies between projects within a programme (intra-programme)
  • dependencies between the programme or its projects and external conditions (external)

Dependencies need to be managed throughout the Project lifecycle; good dependency management will inform Project progress and help predict knock-on effects of deliverables/products not being delivered when planned.

Examples for each type of dependency

Project interdependency  Programme interdependency  External dependency 
  • Data cleansing must be complete before migration can commence.
  • Software must be migrated from test to production before the application can go-live.             
  • Resources working across multiple workstreams will not be available for a period of time.
  • Development of a new financial reporting system cannot start until the general ledger system project is finished.
  • A new product or service cannot “go-live” until the project to recruit call centre staff is complete.
  • Decisions or documentation from the business.
  • Market announcements.
  • Legal requirements.
  • Architects and builders for new facilities.
  • Delivery of IT infrastructure.
  • Outsourced suppliers.
  • Regulators.
  • Customers.
  • Trading partners.

Dependency management process

  1. Identify
  2. Capture and assess
  3. Continual management

Step 1: Identification

Forums / techniques to identify and assess dependencies can include:

  • project scoping meetings, project team meetings, governance board meetings, subject matter experts, stakeholder review and assessments, and workshops with other projects
  • inbound dependencies raised by other projects

NB. A mixture of forums and techniques will allow for different perspectives and contributions to dependency identification.

Step 2: Capture and assess dependency

  • All dependencies should be reflected in the project plan or if it’s a programme of projects, the programme plan.
  • All dependencies should be registered on the risk log if they are assessed as a risk to the project / programme.

All dependencies should have:

  • defined management actions
  • agreed ownership of management actions

The dependency should then be communicated with the owner of the project/programme to ensure the receiving project/programme confirms the dependency and tracks it in their dependency log.

Step 3: Continual management

Dependencies require continual management and should be reviewed at regular points. If a formal change control is submitted, the dependencies should be reviewed and consulted on as part of the change impact assessment.

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