Similar to a task board but with more colors, a Gantt chart is an incredibly useful tool for following the progress of a project. It’s also one of the best tools available to manage project dependencies.
In this guide, we’ll examine the role of dependencies in Gantt charts and how to manage them. We’ll also see some of the ways monday.com simplifies dependency management for you with a custom Gantt View. But first, let’s lay down some important project dependency definitions.
What are project dependencies?
In the simplest terms, dependencies describe the relationships between tasks and activities within a project.
Imagine for a second that you’re making a peanut butter sandwich. It doesn’t matter if you have the peanut butter and a knife, if you don’t have the bread to spread it on. In fact, every task you encounter, whether in your personal life or the workplace, has a dependency. Now, let’s put that same principal to work in terms of projects.
Dependencies are present in almost every aspect of project management. For example, a stakeholder must approve the output of a project task before the team can work on the next task.
In project management theory, this primary chain of dependent tasks is known as the critical path.
If any tasks in the critical path are delayed or modified, it can impact the entire project, from budget to deadlines. This is why organizing project dependencies is so important.
We described one of the most common types of task dependencies below.
Types of dependencies
Project dependencies are basically scheduling dependencies. The common types are:
- Finish-to-Start: This is the most common type of Gantt chart dependency. In the finish-to-start scenario, an initial task must be completed before the next task can begin. For example, a contract must be signed between parties before work on a project can begin.
- Start-to-Finish (SF): Task B must begin before task A is completed. For example, if your workplace is replacing its old security system (Task b), the old system needs to be removed (Task B) before the new system can be installed.
- Start-to-Start (SS): Task B can’t begin until task A has also started. For example, if your IT department needs to roll out new software to all computers in the network (Task A), they’ll need to test that software. They can’t test it before it’s rolled out, but they have to have the means to test it available before the rollout completes.
- Finish-to-Finish (FF): In finish-to-finish, a team can finish task B only after task A has been finished. In this case, it’s possible for the two tasks to run in parallel, but the second task (in this example, task B), is only able to be entirely complete until after task A is completely done.
Categories of project dependencies
Each type of project dependency also falls into a specific dependency category. The most common categories are:
- Logical dependencies: Logical dependencies are the natural flow of tasks required to complete a project — the critical path. They’re the starting point and the output for all previous tasks. Going back to the peanut butter sandwich analogy, you can’t make the sandwich unless you have all the necessary ingredients and tools, such as bread, peanut butter, and a knife.
- Resource dependencies: These dependencies describe the shared resources necessary to complete a project. When two activities share a resource dependency, each depends on the other for completion.
- Preferential dependencies: Occasionally there are tasks that, when completed, add to the overall value of the project but aren’t mission-critical. These are known as preferential dependencies. For example, you may choose to implement a new calendar app for project planning, but it’s use won’t make or break the system already in place.
- External dependencies: Lastly, tasks that depend on variables or resources that the team has no control over are described as external dependencies. For example, a clothing store depends on the manufacturer or supplier to deliver the clothes to the store before they can display the clothes and offer them for sale.
Now that you have a clear understanding of dependencies in project management, take a look at how Gantt charts can make managing them much simpler.
Gantt charts with dependencies in a nutshell
A typical Gantt chart is essentially a visual timeline that helps manage tasks and plan projects. It shows horizontal bars representing tasks stretched across a timeline, with each end of the task bar representing a start and end point for its task. Gantt charts are incredibly useful to give stakeholders a clear view of how long each task will take and how those timelines impact the larger project scope.A Gantt chart with dependencies captures the essence of an entire project and its timetable by showing the relationships between each and every task.
This makes identifying potential roadblocks and forecasting resources much more efficient. Project managers and teams can easily see how each task flows into the next one and what resources are necessary to keep things moving. This is especially important for complex projects involving large teams and successive task completions.
Situations where a Gantt chart with dependencies might come in handy
If you’re managing a project with multiple people involved, Gantt charts are useful tools in your arsenal. Since they enable you to see all of a project’s tasks in one place, they’re great for monitoring the efforts of individual team members.
By accounting for every activity, start and end date, and output, you can more readily adjust resources to keep your project humming along. Some examples of when a Gantt Chart with dependencies might be useful include:
- Sharing with higher-ups that aren’t necessarily involved in the day-to-day activities. If you’re reporting to executives on the status of a project, a Gantt chart illustrates how the project is progressing according to the timeline.
- When you need to lobby for more resources, using visuals can increase influence rates by 43%. Better project planning and more success with the executives — all in a single tool.
How monday.com can help manage your project dependencies
Often the hardest part of effectively managing and communicating dependencies relates to how you do it. monday.com provides an organized and intuitive space for you to record dependencies in neat lists. Then you can easily convert them into colorful Gantt charts on our Gantt View.
Your Gantt View is part of your board, so there’s no need to search through other places to find it — and you can easily share with stakeholders to give them ano-nonsense visual of project timelines and monitor critical paths in real-time.
Another time-saving benefit of our Work OS? Automations. When a task is completed or delayed, you can create notifications so the next person in line is alerted immediately. Making adjustments while retaining complex task relationships is also as simple as dragging and dropping.
Check out our other project tools and templates to make your life easier — you can add the Gantt View and track dependencies on each one.
Gantt charts and projects to get you started
Don’t try to go it alone. monday.com offers several templates to help you manage your project efficiently.
Project management plan template
With this Project Management Plan Template, you are ready to go with planning with distinct phases, customizable tasks, and timelines. And since monday.com has dozens of integrations, you can link your most important tools to it with ease.
Project tracker template
This Project Tracker Template is the perfect starting point for any kind of project. This template makes it easy to input and track all the critical details, dependencies, and resources for your projects while giving you powerful visual tools to monitor progress. Customizable timelines, powerful budgeting tools, and integrated reporting tools ensure you, and all stakeholders, are always in the loop.
Getting started with Gantt charts is as easy as finding a template and loading your project information. Find out more about Gantt charts and project dependencies in our FAQs.
FAQs about Gantt chart with dependencies
Can you show dependencies in Excel?
You can create basic Gantt charts in Excel using the 2D bar chart functionality, though you would only be able to display task timelines. To see dependencies between tasks would require some advanced spreadsheet manipulation. A better approach is to use monday.com to easily create Gantt charts that track dependencies and update in real-time.
What are some project dependency examples?
When learning a new concept, seeing a few examples can help lock it in your mind. Here are some real-world dependency examples to do just that:
- Software sign off: Before the team can deliver the new software, the project manager must sign off on it.
- Training the trainer: Before project trainers can teach others to use the new software, they themselves must go through training.
- Switching gears: Once the team is ready to go, the new software must be launched and verified before shutting down the old software.
What are project assumptions?
In project management, an assumption is defined as a factor that impacts the project and is considered a certainty without any actual proof. For example, you assume that the team members you begin a project with will remain on for the duration. But if one of them moves to another role or transfers to another department, the assumption is false, and the project manager must account for the resource disparity.
Keep project dependencies on point with monday.com
Understanding dependencies is crucial to managing a project successfully. And considering 90% of the information transmitted to the human brain is visual, a Gantt chart is one of the most important tools for managing these dependencies.
For project managers and team members alike, keeping projects on schedule, monitoring resources, and ensuring tasks flow seamlessly into one another is a complex job. But with the right tools, like a Gantt chart with dependencies on monday.com, it can become second nature.