Establishing Dependencies - Project Management

When tasks are dependent on one another, it means that one task cannot start or finish until the previous task has finished or started. In order to determine dependencies you have to put the tasks in logical order.Now you'll determine whether the tasks are stand-alone tasks or they are tasks with dependencies.

Tasks with dependencies must be sequenced in the correct order or you'll end up doing a lot of rework. As an example, the "Load software" task is dependent on the "Install power strips" task because if you don't have power, you can't power up the PC and load the software. This is an example of a mandatory dependency because of the nature of the work. One action can be performed only after another action has taken place.

Not all tasks have dependencies; some tasks may be independent, or standalone. The "Load software" and "Install power strips" example is what's called a Finish to Start dependency relationship. That is, the "Install power strips" task must finish before the "Load software" task can start.

There are four types of dependency relationships. Let's take a quick look at each.

Finish to Start:The independent task (the "Install power strips" task from the earlier example) must finish before the dependent task (the "Load software" task) can start. This type of relationship is the most frequently used dependency. Most of the tasks in our annual conference project that have dependencies have Finish to Start dependencies.

Finish to Finish:The independent task must finish before the dependent task finishes.There isn't an example of this type of relationship in our annual conference project. But an example from the kitchen will help to explain this relationship.When you're making a roast beef with gravy (assuming you're making gravy from the pan drippings), the roast beef must finish cooking before the gravy can finish. You can start the gravy anytime by mixing the flour and water together, but you can't add it to the pan drippings until the beef has finished cooking. Therefore, these tasks have a finish to finish relationship.

Start to Start:The independent task must start before the dependent task starts. For example, when preparing the training materials for our annual conference, we might want to review materials as they are written rather than waiting for all the materials to be written and then reviewing them all in one step. Therefore, the "write content" task and "review content" task have a start to start relationship. You cannot start the "review content" task until the "write content" task has started.

Start to Finish: The independent task must start before the dependent task can finish. This dependency is seldom used.

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