Why are Dependencies in Project Management Important to Agile Teams?

Every project consists of tasks and there are dependencies on these tasks. In an Agile Project Management, dependencies can be seen as a relationship between the tasks that determine the sequence in which these tasks need to be completed. Agile teams must be proficient in managing dependencies that means analyzing and managing the dependencies arising within teams as well as external to the teams.

Agile projects always incorporate dependencies into their projects and teams. Like if a developer develops one feature it is been tested by a tester, this also helps to share the responsibility and the tasks can be completed on time without errors.

So how do Agile Teams Manage Dependencies?

Agile teams manage dependencies most effectively. Firstly, they analyze the dependencies that are existing among the people, processes, and the overall system. Then they work on defining the relationships between these tasks. Then they identify and separate the tasks which can be handled without any dependencies. Then perform dependency mapping between these various tasks, people, and processes. To perform this, the team makes use of the advanced tools to convert these dependencies into a real-time implementation project plan.

Factors affecting Task Dependencies

The Agile teams classify tasks based on various factors like:

Logic-Based Dependencies – This means one task follows the other task in a logical sequence without considering the resource and time. For example, the project cannot be tested unless it has developed by the team.

Resource-Based Dependencies- This factor for task dependency follows a sequential approach and depends on the number of resources involved. More the number of resources more the productivity. For example, if the team has more testers the project will be tested in less time and thus result in more productivity.

Preferential Dependencies- This factor for determining task dependency is based on preference and is not mandatory. If the team or the manager handling the project plan to consider this dependency they will incorporate it to improve the overall quality of the project. So this depends on the preference and convenience of the team.

Types of Dependencies

There are four main types of Task Dependencies

Finish to Start: In this, the second task cannot start unless the first task is completed. This follows a sequential approach. For example, the owner of the land can build a flat only after purchasing it.

Start to Finish: In this, the first task cannot be finished until the second task is started, for example, the shift or work of the first security guard is finished only the second security guard comes to work.

Start to Start: In this, the second task cannot begin the first task hasn’t begun. For example, for a writer, unless the content is developed he cannot edit it.

Finish to Finish: In this, the second task cannot finish until the first task is finished. For example, in online shopping, here the sale can’t be closed unless product delivery and payment are received from the customer.

How to Set Task Dependencies?

The task dependencies can be set using the Gantt tool that helps to show all the tasks in the timeline format. These tasks are shown using rectangle boxes on the Gantt chart. Using drag and drop options dependencies for each task can be set. The Gantt chart can be used to set events and milestones to keep the agile team on track to deliver the project on time. The below images shows the parent-child between each of the tasks:

Benefits of mapping dependencies

The setting of the task dependencies on the Gantt chart helps the agile team to get an accurate timeline for the project on a bar chart. The agile teams get the following benefits once the dependencies are set for each of the tasks:

  • Setting task dependencies gives clarity about the following points and directs the planning for future and emergencies.
  • Gives clarity to the agile team and helps them focus and plan on future project delivery
  • Creates a clear vision about all the tasks and their related dependencies hence avoiding confusion.
  • Helps managers and the team to have a quick overview of the entire project and hence work on its progress.
  • Highlights the weak areas of the project and directs the team to work on it.
  • Helps managers can delegate tasks to employees by checking their workload and also helps the team to make strategic project decisions.

Thus setting the task dependency is a very important step for the agile teams to deliver the project on time and smoothly. 

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