Task Dependencies: Importance, Types, and Management

Task Dependencies

Have you ever heard of a project that only a single person handled end to end? And do you think there are projects that have no tasks involved? IMPOSSIBLE right?

Every project has tasks, and to finish the project; each team member handles at least one task. These tasks can be dependent or connected to the other tasks. 

As a society, we depend on each other to meet our needs and benefit from them. 

Therefore, no man can be an island, and no tasks and activities can exist in isolation.

The same logic applies to the products management field as well. Every item, feature, or work depends on another task’s output.

This relationship between two tasks is what we refer to as task dependency.

This blog will begin by elaborating on the meaning of task dependencies. We will talk about the various types of dependencies and the top reasons why you need to identify the task dependencies. 

We will also look at how Chisel is there to help you manage task dependencies in your product management journey with ease.

What Are Task Dependencies?

A task dependency refers to the relationship that needs a particular order for the tasks or milestones to occur (partially or completely). 

One task will only succeed when the team completes the preceding task. The relationship is also sometimes referred to as the logical relationship

Task dependencies are the relationships between tasks and resources.

Check out the article on what dependency is to understand the basics of dependencies. 

A task dependency is a relationship between two tasks, where one task requires input from the other.

This type of relationship is also known as a “prerequisite” or “necessary condition.”

Task dependency is one of the essential concepts in project management. It is also an important part of lean manufacturing and agile software development.

Understanding the dependencies and delivering a product that meets those requirements is the key to success in product management.

The most important task for a product manager is understanding their customer’s needs. They need to find out what the customer wants, what they are willing to pay for, and how you can convince them to buy a product.

Product managers should also be able to identify dependencies and constraints. This will help them understand how they can best optimize their time, resources, and budget to deliver a successful product.

Product managers must identify the dependencies between their tasks to prioritize them accordingly and ensure that teams do the work efficiently.

Different ways of identifying the dependencies between the tasks in a product management process exist. Some of them include:

4 Types of Task Dependencies Used in Project Management?

The Four Main Types of Dependencies Used in Project Management Are Mandatory, Discretionary, External, and Internal. 

We will briefly look at each of these. 

Mandatory

These dependencies are also called hard logic dependencies. A team legally needs these dependencies in a project’s statement of work. 

Discretionary

These dependencies are also known as soft logic or preferential dependencies. Discretionary dependencies aren’t mandatory, but you may schedule the tasks influenced by team preference or best practice. 

External

External dependencies are a form of approval from an external source before you proceed with the task. 

For example, to add the blog images, the marketing team needs to wait for the HR team to hire a graphic designer who can help with that. 

Internal

As the name suggests, internal dependencies are activities that must occur within the project. 

For instance, developers develop a system and then test it. 

Usually, product teams have control over the internal dependencies

The Four Other Task Dependency Types Are:

These names and acronyms may seem like some scientific formula but fret not. We’ll explain each of them with examples for better understanding. 

Finish To Start(FS)

We’ll begin with the one easy to grasp. As the name points out, you can’t finish the task until the finish is complete.

For example, task B, which is the successor, will not start until the predecessor task A is not complete. You cannot build the walls of a house until you have the foundation in place. Right? This is finish to start. 

Start To Start(SS)

In this case of start to start, the successor task only begins once the predecessor task it depends on is in the pipelines. 

For instance, you cannot begin to frost your cake until you have a baked cake. However, the chef doesn’t have to wait till the cake is fully baked and ready to start the process of making the icing required for frosting. 

Finish To Finish(FF)

For finish-to-finish dependencies, you must complete task A for task B to begin and finish. 

For instance, you can begin the QA testing for a few rooms when an electrician is wiring a new home. However, you can’t say ‘done’ to testing unless and until the electrician finishes the task of wiring the entire house. 

Start To Finish(SF)

In simple terms, start-to-finish dependency means you can finish the previous task only if you have started the successor task.

You can only finish task A once the work on task B has begun.

An example can be you must start a new accounts payable system, which is the successor, before shutting down the old accounts payable system, which is the predecessor.

How Does Chisel Help You Manage Task Dependencies Easily?

We at Chisel know well what it means to have task dependencies and how managing them sets you up for small wins daily. 

Therefore, for everyone to benefit from managing dependencies, we built the necessary dependency tools within our Chisel workspace platform.

With Chisel’s dependency feature, your product teams that have collaborative workflows can see what tasks they need from other teammates. They will also learn what tasks they are waiting for from others and accordingly plan their portion of work. 

Makers and contributors can make the necessary change to the dependency statuses as and when they finish their work which will help the assignee of the next task to start on their tasks. 

Chisel gives you a space to add various dependencies that product teams require when working on a feature. Doing so lets you see what is complete and what needs your attention. 

You can add, hide or delete dependency statuses as per your choice.
You can add, hide or delete dependency statuses as per your choice. 

The Treeview section in Roadmap pillars gives you access to add dependencies by horizontally scrolling through in the “More” column. 

On expanding the dependencies tab, you can edit and add new ones to your list. 

When you aren’t considering the dependency for the time being or have kept it on hold, simply toggle it off, and you won’t see it in the category. This lets you focus on more important or, rather, the other prioritized dependencies.

Dependency status

You can assign a dependency status to your features corresponding to the task dependency you will rely on it for.

For example, say you know that this feature will have the task dependency from the UX department. However, the work the teams are doing is in the pipelines. In such a case, you can give the dependency status ‘in progress.’

Chisel gives you a bird’s view to see your features and dependencies at one glance. This helps you stay focused and keeps your workspace palette clean and organized at all times.

You just have to expand the ‘select‘ button in the dependency section, and voila, you have the option to add the dependency status.

Add dependency status to your features within seconds with Chisel's dependency tool.
Add dependency status to your features within seconds with Chisel’s dependency tool. 

Chisel makes it a smoother ride for you to organize, plan and track all your product task dependencies in just a few clicks. 

Task dependencies are available for essential, premium, and enterprise customers. 

Note: Feature Comparison for Premium and Enterprise Subscription Plans

Set and View Dependencies Based on Your Kanban Status, Release Cycle, and Timeline

You can broadly view the dependencies in the treeview section for each feature.

However, when you switch the roadmap pillar from tree-view to kanban status, release cycle, or timeline sections, you can easily view the details of each feature along with the dependencies. 

For example, in the kanban view, when you click on any feature, you can easily see all the details, including the dependencies of that feature. 

Note: Get to know more about the kanban feature in Chisel and how you can use it. 

Simply by expanding the feature and going to the ‘schedule’ section of the side panel, you would be able to decide if the said dependency is in-progress, blocked, or completed, or any other dependency status that you may have. 

The best part about the dependency tool in Chisel is that it allows you to hide the tool when you don’t need it or when you wish to concentrate on something else at the moment.

By simply toggling off the dependency tool, it will become invisible until you toggle on the button in ‘visible columns.’ 

Note: Learn in detail how to use Chisel’s dependency tool efficiently. 

Top Reasons To Identify Task Dependencies

Manage Project Schedule Well

12% of projects fail because of mismanagement of task dependencies throughout the project timeline. 

Therefore, to build and effectively manage the project timeline, it is essential to identify the task dependencies early on.

Once you have all the tasks needed to complete for the project, taking an approximate guess of the duration of each task is simpler.

After looking at the sequence of tasks, you will notice that some tasks take a longer route than others. 

The longest dependency tasks are called the critical path.

The critical path will give you a real estimation of the project timeline. This can help when managing stakeholder expectations. 

Allocating Resources Is Easier

Your task of allocating resources becomes simpler when you know the tasks you need to complete and the duration required. 

Identify Risks Quickly

Not all tasks you include in the project are under the control of the product teams. Especially an external dependency can come with risks in the project schedule. 

Product managers and team members can get frustrated when they cannot meet the unexpected bottlenecks related to the task dependencies. 

Therefore, identifying the task dependencies will help you quickly identify the risks. 

It’s 2022, and You Need a Tool To Manage Your Task Dependencies Effectively

As we saw in this article, it is quite an eye opener that if one task is delayed, the entire project, along with the deadlines, goes for a toss. 

We like to think of task dependencies as the Domino effect. If one of the dependencies fails to deliver on time, the entire team suffers. 

To not be a part of this game of domino effect, Chisel is here to guide you

We built Chisel to organize your tasks and automate processes so that product managers and teams can accurately estimate the product development duration and eventually deliver the product features on time without any hurdles on the way!!

Sign up on Chisel today to get your share of top-notch task dependency management tools readily available in your workspace!

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