A Beginner’s Guide To Understanding Dependencies in Project Management

A Beginner’s Guide To Understanding Dependencies in Project Management

Project dependencies is a crucial part of project management. Learn key info and tips on managing project dependencies in this beginner's guide!

Alisha Widianti
Last Updated 25 Dec 2023
Project management presentation on project dependencies

Dependencies are an inevitable part of life, whether in a relay race or project management. Looking closely at most projects, you’ll notice that most tasks need to be passed to other team members for completion, like passing a baton in a relay race. 

However, some project tasks depend on completing other tasks before you can begin the next one. This means that the success of a task depends on whether you’ve completed the prior one.

In project management, this relationship between tasks is called a "dependency." Understanding project dependencies well can help you define a clear and consistent plan before initiating a project, making all the difference in your project's success. 

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dependencies in project management, including key terms, types of dependencies, task dependencies, and tips to streamline your project dependencies. 

Let’s get started!

What is a dependency in project management?

In simple terms, a dependency is something that relies on something else. 

Examples of dependencies in project management: 

  • A reimbursement depends on an expense report submission

  • A developer cannot start writing code until the product manager has finished writing the product requirements document (PRD).

  • The code must pass the quality assurance tester's rigorous review and testing process before production deployment.

Why is it essential to understand dependencies in project management?

Dependencies help project managers understand the relationship between one task and another. 

As a project manager, it’s crucial to identify and get a clear picture of your project dependencies early on so you have a clear idea of how to carry out the tasks to complete the project. 

Before discussing the different types of dependencies, let’s familiarize ourselves with some common words. 

Keywords you need to know regarding dependencies


A blocker prevents you from completing a task or project activity. It can be internal or external issues like one of your members not committing enough time to complete their current task because of their commitment to other projects or even a shortage of critical materials due to a supply chain disruption. 

Critical path:

In project management, the critical path is a sequence of essential tasks you must complete in a project for you to complete the project. If any critical tasks are not completed or delayed, it’ll affect the project’s entire timeline. 


Constraints are limitations or restrictions you must adhere to to complete your project. 

Here are some of the most common constraints:

  • Cost: The financial limitations to complete a project. How much money can you spend to complete the project?

  • Time: How long will it take for you and your team to complete the project? 

  • Resource: How much of the team’s resources can you use to complete the project?

  • Scope: How many specific deliverables are you required to achieve to complete the project?

Types of dependencies: 

Although the concept of dependencies is straightforward, there are many variations of project dependencies. 

Here are some of the project dependencies you may face as a project manager:

Logical dependencies: 

Logical dependencies are one of the most common dependencies in project management. Logical dependencies occur naturally in a workflow and are necessary for a project’s completion. In other words, you can’t dodge them! 

For example, before you start creating a design for your client’s hotel booking system, you need to gather and understand the requirements of the hotel booking system first, then you can begin the design. Before you create a social media post, you need to have the post's contents ready before you start designing the graphics. 

Resource dependencies: 

Resource dependencies are usually identified when you notice that two or more tasks need the same resource to be completed–this can be a team member, an essential machine component, financial funds, etc. 

For example, the progress of developing the new features of your landing page in project A depends on the developer working on finishing a product feature in project B, so they have the bandwidth to complete A without being overwhelmed. 

Cross-team dependencies: 

Cross-team dependencies usually happen when different cross-functional team members or departments depend on one another to complete a task or project activity. 

The software development team relies on the product design team to develop their new mobile app's UI/UX design. Meanwhile, the product design team relies on the software development team to bring their user interface design to life and in code, ensuring that all the designs are correctly implemented according to the design. 

External dependencies: 

There are always a few things that project managers can’t consider in their project plan since it’s out of their control–that’s what you’d call external dependencies. A typical example would be the weather phenomenon. 

Due to a typhoon, some of your machine’s components that are crucial to your product are experiencing a delay in shipment delivery. Your product is externally dependent on the shipment vendor to deliver the components on time. 

Preferential dependencies: 

Preferential dependencies are the dependencies that you create and prefer to have. Most of the time, they’re not necessarily required for your project to be completed, but you’d prefer to have them since it improves the quality of your project deliverable. 

For instance, your senior content editor may ask you to have one final review of your article before publishing it on the website. Although the team created this step, it helps ensure the quality of the work and that there are no mistakes, although you don’t need to complete the project. 

Types of dependencies based on task relationship: 

Another way of understanding dependencies in project management is by understanding how tasks depend on one another. This is also known as task dependencies–the relationships between different tasks and activities within the project. 

Finish to Start (FtS):

This is one of the most common task dependencies you’ll encounter as a project manager. Task C can’t be started until task B is complete, which is common in the Waterfall project management methodology.

Finish to Finish (FtF):

Task B cannot be completed until Task A is completed. This type of task dependency is very common with tasks with subtasks; if subtasks have not yet been completed, you can’t complete the parent task. 

You’ll usually see this in feature development, where bigger tasks are broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

Start to Start (StS):

Task B cannot start before Task D starts. These are usually tasks that need to be run in parallel with one another. An example of this would be a timed software launch. A product marketer may need to write a timed announcement and press release of the launch on social media and other media channels as the development team pushes the software to go live. 

In this case, the marketer doesn’t start on their tasks until the web developer ensures that the announcement and software launch happen simultaneously. 

Start to Finish (StF):

Finally, we have the last task dependency, Start to Finish.  This is when Task B must start for Task D to be completed. This is usually important for situations that require overlap. 

One example is the hotel industry, regarding reception desk and support. A hotel receptionist cannot leave their desk unmanned until another hotel receptionist arrives, as someone should always be available to support guests. 

How can you streamline your dependencies?

Although dependency management seems overwhelming and intimidating initially, learning to manage and streamline dependencies can make all the difference in your project’s success. 

Here are some tips to help you organize your project dependencies: 

Organize your project tasks with project management software

One of the best ways to streamline your project dependencies is to use a project management tool that works best for you and your teams. Leveraging project management software helps visualize and manage dependencies in your projects. 

With Klever Suite, you can outline and share your project plan with your teams, set up your project board with subtasks, and create task dependencies in one integrated workspace!  

Create and store project documents in Klever Wiki, our shared wiki space where you can collaborate on online docs with your team members. Once you have your project requirements outlined, set up your project board and create tasks in Klever Project, our project management tool that makes running Waterfall and Agile projects easy. 

With Klever Project, you can create a task ticket and link a task to other tasks in the project board, making it easy for teams to see how the tasks are connected. Being able to relate tasks in a task ticket visibly helps you assess the impact of changes made to one task on other tasks in the project.

Project dependencies related tasks

Visualize your dependencies

Understanding the tasks that need to be completed and the order in which they should be done is crucial for any project. Visualizing project dependencies is a great way to understand in what order the tasks must be completed. 

Klever Project Kanban board in English

Klever Project Report Feature

Identify and look out for any risks in your project plan

When developing a project plan, it's crucial to consider all potential dependencies. These could include resources, collaboration with other teams, or issues within your team.

Think about your team members and their workload - are some busier than others due to their involvement in other projects? You might also need to work with other teams to complete your project. And, if there is any risk of delays in one part of the project, it's always a good idea to have a backup plan to keep your project on track.

Keep an open and positive line of communication with your stakeholders

Clear communication is key when it comes to dependencies. It is important to keep everyone informed if a project task is going to be delayed, whether it is due to external factors beyond your control or resource dependencies. Encouraging team members to communicate any delays to the entire team is always beneficial so that the project timeline can be adjusted accordingly. 

Why you should depend on Klever Suite for project dependencies

By the end of this guide, you may have realized that dependencies are a crucial part of any project. However, managing them can be a challenging task. 

But don't worry, Klever Suite is here to make it easier for you!

With Klever Suite, you can manage all your project tasks and see all your task dependencies in one board. With visualization tools like Gantt chart, time estimates, and workload summary–visualizing your project dependencies has never been easier.

Best of all, it's free! So why wait?

Project Management

About the author

Alisha Widianti


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