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22 January 2011

Dependency: A Necessary Concept in Project Management

David A. Zimmer
David A. Zimmer, PMP
Chief Project Professor
American Eagle Group

Let’s face it, we are dependent. We are dependent on the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. Without these necessities, we wouldn’t exist.

In our projects, we have tasks dependent on other tasks. In our article, “Four Logical Relationships of Project Management: What They Are and How To Use Them,” we described the four relationships between tasks. The relationship describes how tasks relate, i.e., how the predecessor determines the start or finish of the successor.

Dependency determines the order of sequence or an activity’s placement within the project schedule. I know, it’s subtly different than relationships, but it is important to understand the subtly. In fact, many books and people interchange relationship and dependency – even the PMBOK® Guide does – but there is a difference.