In this series of articles we’re discussing a simple approach for managing projects – the ten D’s of project management. The first D was Definition, the second was Detail, and this post is about Dependencies.
In the Definition post we discussed the need to ask key questions before diving into detailed planning, and we used an everyday example of planning a meal. In the Detail post we created a hierarchy of work necessary to achieve the project goals. But this hierarchy did not include information about how long tasks might take, or when they should occur. So we should now add dates/times? Not yet. We first need to consider the logical sequencing of the tasks we identified at the lowest level of our hierarchy (Work Breakdown Structure).
For instance, it would probably make sense to research recipes on the internet before we go to the store to buy groceries, not afterwards. It might also be helpful to know how many people to expect at the meal before we go grocery shopping. Decorating the table/venue could be done before or after we go to store, it doesn’t really matter, but it must be done before guests start to arrive for the meal. We could try and keep all these project Dependencies in our head, but we’ll probably be more successful if we put them down on paper. And the most effective way to document Dependencies is to create a type of flowchart, known technically as a Network Diagram, or Logic Diagram. I’ve included a section of an example network diagram below:
Now, you might disagree with some of the Dependencies and want to do things differently. That’s OK – there are many ways to prepare for an event/meal. You need to document how you (and your team) actually plan to conduct your project. Notice that we’re still not talking about when things will occur – just the dependencies and the sequencing. Timing will come later.
But I missed some tasks!
I guarantee that as you develop your flowchart, you will realize that you’ve missed some tasks from your WBS (work hierarchy). But that’s OK, because planning is an iterative process, so feel free to add more tasks as you learn more about your project.
In the next post we’ll look at the fourth D after project Definition, Detail, and Dependencies, which is Duties.