Dependency Management Software

Teams who are building software and completing projects depend on customer feedback, internal resource constraints, third-party products…and each other. Managing dependencies across multiple teams can be difficult, as they may not always know what the other team is working on. By using visibility from a dependencies management tool and integrating them into your workflow, however, you’ll be able to more easily keep track of all of those dependencies.

In this guide, we review the aspects of Dependency Management Software, dependency management framework, dependency management project management, and what are the various factors of management dependency in software development.4

Dependency Management Software

Teams who are building software and completing projects depend on customer feedback, internal resource constraints, third-party products…and, especially each other. 🤜🤛Keeping track of all of these dependencies is difficult for a single agile team and even harder for multiple teams. Fortunately, it can be managed — and managed at scale. Enter dependencies management — the process of identifying, troubleshooting, and resolving any dependencies that can keep other projects from being completed.

Let’s say one piece of working software depends on an external plugin. If that plugin fails to operate, then the working software may fail as well. 🔌 Similarly, large organizations working on multiple software projects at once often have some projects that depend on others in order to get done. This is why agile teams need processes to monitor dependencies so they don’t disrupt software development.

The more complex dependencies become, the more you need good dependencies management to control them at scale. Technical tools, like Maven, have their own use cases to manage dependencies among plugins and libraries across a software project.

Similarly, agile frameworks such as LeSS and SAFe can help with dependencies management in large organizations. Finally, finding ways to visualize the dependencies in an organization is a highly effective way to mitigate the risks of delaying projects.

Want to empower your team to implement the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)?

Now, close your eyes and imagine the rest. Just kidding, read on…as if your agility depends on it. 😂

Types of dependencies in project management

Before we discuss tools and frameworks, let’s outline a few different types of dependencies:

We’ll mainly focus on agile frameworks for organizational dependency management, but if you are interested in dependency management software, let’s start with an overview of Maven.

Maven: Dependencies management software

Maven is an open-source build automation tool primarily used in Java projects. One of its core pieces of functionality is managing the different types of dependencies in a software project via its Apache Maven dependency plugin.

Maven helps manage large dependency trees with many transitive dependencies. For example, if Plugin A depends on Plugin B, which depends on Library C, Maven can detect that with your project by using a Project Object Model (POM). This is an XML file that contains information about a project’s configuration details and allows Maven to detect dependencies.

Ok, timeout — this can get a little confusing. Transitive dependencies are like making a pizza (really). You need dough to make it. But you need eggs and flour to make the dough. (You also need a farm with chickens and wheat, but you get it.) Similarly, with transitive dependencies, one task needs to be completed for the other to take place.

💡Pro tip: Make a dependency tree that looks like a pizza recipe. Your team will love it (pro tip #2: Bring pizza).

Here’s a high-level overview of how Maven operates, based on their comprehensive Introduction to Dependency Mechanism:

Think of Maven as a technical framework that helps software development teams to identify, understand, and resolve dependencies across its entire system of plugins and libraries. Now, let’s apply the same ideas to teams in large organizations who have the same types of dependencies. In other words, let’s make dependencies management more human. 😁

Agile frameworks for organizations to improve dependency management

You’re probably pretty familiar with the most common agile frameworks for software development — Kanban and Scrum. These frameworks are mostly suited for individual team organizations. But what about frameworks for cross-functional agile teams in a large organization who need help with dependencies management?

LeSS for dependency management

LeSS is a framework that helps multiple Scrum teams who are working together on a single project to scale. Think of LeSS as Scrum at a large enterprise scale — you still have a single product backlog, a product owner, a Scrum master, and software developers. But the key difference is that there are many teams working towards the same goal and the same definition of done (rather than a single team).

One of the most important tasks for the product owner role in the LeSS framework is making sure that dependency information is provided across teams. In LeSS, product backlog refinement (PBR) is an organized event that makes sure dependency risks are consistently identified. PBR allows multiple teams to plan sprints in parallel and to identify if there are any cross-team dependencies that risk project completion.

SAFe-ly managing dependencies

The SAFe framework provides principles and workflow patterns to guide organizations through their project dependencies. The idea behind SAFe is to promote transparency and alignment across large organizations so they can be more nimble in meeting their business objectives.

Unlike startups, who are small and can typically make organizational changes quickly, large organizations often become too big to make rapid changes. One common cause of this is the inability to manage dependency resolution because dependencies are less visible for cross-functional teams.

Just as Scrum has ceremonies to keep a single agile team aligned, an essential ceremony to keep multiple teams in the Scaled Agile Framework communicating with each other is Program Increment (PI) Planning. It’s a way to keep even the largest organizations nimble.

Easy Agile Programs: Equip your remote, distributed or co-located teams for success with a digital tool for PI Planning.

Program Increment Planning for large organizations

PI Planning is a periodic meeting that happens throughout the year. Teams within an organization gather to compile their thoughts on product features and the product roadmap, and to discover any dependencies that exist between them.

One key feature of PI Planning is a program board. Program boards help give programs — a group of agile teams working together on a common goal — a visual and digital representation of what the teams have planned to complete from their PI Planning.

Visualize your dependencies

Easy Agile Programs for Jira is a complete tool for dependencies management at a program level. By utilizing visualizations and by providing transparency across projects, teams can confidently scale without the risk of work disruptions. It does this by providing three views:

Visualise dependencies with Easy Agile Programs: Filter the Increment Overview by at risk, healthy or blocked dependencies for effective conversations.

Unlock your organization’s common dependencies

Additional functionality in Easy Agile Programs for Jira uses visual cues and views to assist in dependencies identification.

To learn more about Easy Agile Programs for Jira — visually 😉 — view our video demo! (And, if you want to extend it beyond Jira, it even contains an API for integration with other systems. 😎)

dependency management framework

Teams who are building software and completing projects depend on customer feedback, internal resource constraints, third-party products…and, especially each other. 🤜🤛Keeping track of all of these dependencies is difficult for a single agile team and even harder for multiple teams. Fortunately, it can be managed — and managed at scale. Enter dependencies management — the process of identifying, troubleshooting, and resolving any dependencies that can keep other projects from being completed.

Let’s say one piece of working software depends on an external plugin. If that plugin fails to operate, then the working software may fail as well. 🔌 Similarly, large organizations working on multiple software projects at once often have some projects that depend on others in order to get done. This is why agile teams need processes to monitor dependencies so they don’t disrupt software development.

The more complex dependencies become, the more you need good dependencies management to control them at scale. Technical tools, like Maven, have their own use cases to manage dependencies among plugins and libraries across a software project.

Similarly, agile frameworks such as LeSS and SAFe can help with dependencies management in large organizations. Finally, finding ways to visualize the dependencies in an organization is a highly effective way to mitigate the risks of delaying projects.

Want to empower your team to implement the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)?

Now, close your eyes and imagine the rest. Just kidding, read on…as if your agility depends on it. 😂

Types of dependencies in project management

Before we discuss tools and frameworks, let’s outline a few different types of dependencies:

We’ll mainly focus on agile frameworks for organizational dependency management, but if you are interested in dependency management software, let’s start with an overview of Maven.

Maven: Dependencies management software

Maven is an open-source build automation tool primarily used in Java projects. One of its core pieces of functionality is managing the different types of dependencies in a software project via its Apache Maven dependency plugin.

Maven helps manage large dependency trees with many transitive dependencies. For example, if Plugin A depends on Plugin B, which depends on Library C, Maven can detect that with your project by using a Project Object Model (POM). This is an XML file that contains information about a project’s configuration details and allows Maven to detect dependencies.

Ok, timeout — this can get a little confusing. Transitive dependencies are like making a pizza (really). You need dough to make it. But you need eggs and flour to make the dough. (You also need a farm with chickens and wheat, but you get it.) Similarly, with transitive dependencies, one task needs to be completed for the other to take place.

💡Pro tip: Make a dependency tree that looks like a pizza recipe. Your team will love it (pro tip #2: Bring pizza).

Here’s a high-level overview of how Maven operates, based on their comprehensive Introduction to Dependency Mechanism:

Think of Maven as a technical framework that helps software development teams to identify, understand, and resolve dependencies across its entire system of plugins and libraries. Now, let’s apply the same ideas to teams in large organizations who have the same types of dependencies. In other words, let’s make dependencies management more human. 😁

Agile frameworks for organizations to improve dependency management

You’re probably pretty familiar with the most common agile frameworks for software development — Kanban and Scrum. These frameworks are mostly suited for individual team organizations. But what about frameworks for cross-functional agile teams in a large organization who need help with dependencies management?

LeSS for dependency management

LeSS is a framework that helps multiple Scrum teams who are working together on a single project to scale. Think of LeSS as Scrum at a large enterprise scale — you still have a single product backlog, a product owner, a Scrum master, and software developers. But the key difference is that there are many teams working towards the same goal and the same definition of done (rather than a single team).

One of the most important tasks for the product owner role in the LeSS framework is making sure that dependency information is provided across teams. In LeSS, product backlog refinement (PBR) is an organized event that makes sure dependency risks are consistently identified. PBR allows multiple teams to plan sprints in parallel and to identify if there are any cross-team dependencies that risk project completion.

SAFe-ly managing dependencies

The SAFe framework provides principles and workflow patterns to guide organizations through their project dependencies. The idea behind SAFe is to promote transparency and alignment across large organizations so they can be more nimble in meeting their business objectives.

Unlike startups, who are small and can typically make organizational changes quickly, large organizations often become too big to make rapid changes. One common cause of this is the inability to manage dependency resolution because dependencies are less visible for cross-functional teams.

Just as Scrum has ceremonies to keep a single agile team aligned, an essential ceremony to keep multiple teams in the Scaled Agile Framework communicating with each other is Program Increment (PI) Planning. It’s a way to keep even the largest organizations nimble.

Easy Agile Programs: Equip your remote, distributed or co-located teams for success with a digital tool for PI Planning.

Program Increment Planning for large organizations

PI Planning is a periodic meeting that happens throughout the year. Teams within an organization gather to compile their thoughts on product features and the product roadmap, and to discover any dependencies that exist between them.

One key feature of PI Planning is a program board. Program boards help give programs — a group of agile teams working together on a common goal — a visual and digital representation of what the teams have planned to complete from their PI Planning.

dependency management project management

Types of dependencies based on conditions

Here are some of the common major dependencies you may face.

1. Logical dependency

Logical dependencies, also known as causal dependencies, are the ones that occur naturally in a workflow, and you can’t dodge them.

You can’t carry out tasks with logical dependencies simultaneously.

For example, when you’re making a dress, the design comes first, and then you can begin stitching. Or, when you’re making a social media video, the script and storyboard need to be planned before you shoot.

2. Resource dependencies

Resource based dependencies are spotted when two or more tasks need the same resources for completion. There could be only a limited number of these resources. The resource can be a team member, an imported component of a machine, funds, skilled professionals etc.

For example, you need the hard drive that contains this month’s reports. Unfortunately, so does the finance team. So one of you is going to have to wait!

3. Cross-team dependencies

This is when different cross functional team members or departments depend on one another to complete a complex project or project activity.

Laura Moonan, Project Manager at Cleveland Clinic Hospital, encountered this type of dependency when working with physicians and the content team.

“As a project manager for a hospital, our team’s use of workflows and dependencies is critical for accuracy, communication, and consistency. In order for us to create medically accurate articles for consumer-facing content, physicians were needed to edit or approve the content itself. A dependency that we struggled with was who was going to review the content and when?

“Prior to using project management software, I needed a separate department to identify the physician, and then I could send out my email asking for their changes or approval. By implementing ClickUp’s dependencies, my project timeline was more accurate and everyone involved knew which phase the project was in – waiting to review, ready to send out or there was a blocker.”

4. External dependencies

There are always some things that project managers can’t account for in the project plan because they’re out of their control. Those are external dependencies.

Erica Tahan, Digital Marketing Project Manager at WITHIN, works frequently with external dependencies – client communications & requests.

“When you work in agency marketing, client communication is huge – especially when a project is dependent on resource deliverables from the client (ie. creative, branding, etc.). By bringing clients into project management software for communication and accountability, we were able to have fewer meetings, cut back on email communication, and provide a sense of transparency to our points of contact.

“Things like assigning tasks, setting up the right notifications when deadlines are approaching, and automated reporting have been a huge progression in mitigating former dependency issues and have greatly improved relationships between internal teams and client points of contact.”

5. Internal dependencies

An internal dependency is the opposite of an external dependency. The control is in the hands of the project teams without any dependence on external parties.

Companies have many internal dependencies. Christa Reed, Junior Product Manager at Job Searcher describes how her team streamlined dependencies that come with hiring and onboarding new team members.

“One of the biggest dependencies that we have at our company is the logistics behind hiring new employees. For example, we need to work with the IT department in order to get a new employee set up with the proper computer and email access. We also need to order any necessary supplies, like business cards or a company ID badge. In addition, we have to collect and review the new employee’s credentials and make sure that they are up to date before they can start working.

“To overcome this challenge, we’ve implemented several different strategies to streamline our hiring process, such as creating a ‘hiring coordinator’ role at our company. This person is responsible for overseeing the hiring process from start to finish and making sure that everything is on track, working cross-functionally and keeping everyone on the same page.

6. Preferential dependencies

Simply put, preferential dependencies are ones that you prefer to have.

A preferential dependency isn’t mandatory for completing the project. However, you want it because it improves the quality of the project deliverables.

Let’s take a good example. 

A blogger can edit their work right after completing the writeup. But they may prefer a gap of a few hours before editing to spot more errors. This is a preferential dependency that boosts the blog quality.

Types of dependencies based on task relationships

Based on this classification, there are four kinds of logical relationships.

1. Finish to start

The simplest and most common logical dependency in the real world is the finish to start dependency (FS). It helps you visualize sequential project tasks.

Here task B (second task) can’t start unless task A (first task) is complete.

For example, if you’re catering at a wedding, you can’t begin food preparation (task B) unless you’ve decided on a menu (task A).

2. Start to finish

This logical relationship isn’t so simple. 

In start to finish (SF) dependencies, you can’t complete the successor task unless the preceding tasks have started.

For example, the catering staff can’t refill the food trays unless the people have started dining.

3. Finish to finish

In finish to finish (FF) kind of dependency in project management, the successor task can’t complete unless the predecessor task is complete too.

For example, you can’t pay the catering staff unless the wedding event is complete.

4. Start to start

And finally, we have the start to start (SS) dependency. Here, the successor task can only begin after the predecessor activity has started. After that, both the tasks can run simultaneously as well.

For example, you can start plating the dessert as soon as the mains have started going out. The waiting team can serve the mains while the kitchen team plates the desserts.

More Expert Tips to Streamline and Optimize Your Dependencies

Break down processes into small batches

Debra Hildebrand, Project Management Training and Consulting at Hildebrand Solutions, LLC, recommends modeling dependencies to team members with the Agile penny game.

“This game examines how each individual on a team has different processing times that while, productive may cause inefficiencies that can be avoided by breaking down work into smaller batches and reducing hand-offs. When work activities are done in larger batches, the successor cannot start or finish his or her work until the predecessor hands-off the task, which often creates a bottleneck effect.”

Maintain a healthy line of communication

Kimberly Davis, freelance and contract project manager, involves herself in projects which require consistent client communications.

“One of the dependencies that will inevitably lead to risks are mishandling key stakeholders for your project. Currently, my clients are small business owners in the pest control industry who brought me in to help with their change of management. Since my clients are high-touch, they rely on me to walk them through choosing the right CRM platform to satisfy their needs. At the same time, they are busy individuals whose time needs to be respected and prioritized.

“Since my workflow can’t continue without their approval for implementation, it is my job to make sure that our meetings remain swift and productive for everyone involved. It’s important to maintain strong and healthy relationships with all stakeholders, because their approval is key for your plan’s success.”

Switch from Waterfall to Agile to remove bottlenecks and dependencies

Mercy Y. Gituro, Business Analyst at KB Logistics, recounts her experience of how the Waterfall methodology created more bottlenecks and dependencies and suggests an alternate method.

“When I worked on a project where we used the traditional waterfall method, we didn’t check with the client or get feedback at every stage. The drawbacks of this began to show when the project was almost at the delivery stage and we realized a requirement had been missed and more changes were needed. Seeing this problem, I approached my manager and asked if we could consider adopting the Agile methodology. My manager’s approval of switching to an Agile mindset saved money for the company as my team received feedback from the stakeholders, before implementing new changes or additions and most importantly before the final delivery.”

How to Manage Dependencies in Project Management?

Handling dependencies is no joke.

Whether it’s a resource, time, quality, or cost, a project manager must handle everything to ensure that project activities stay on track.

If not, the project will crash.

However, project managers can always make things easier with proper planning and the right project management software. 

what are the various factors of management dependency in software development

No project task exists in isolation. With the possible exception of the very first project task, each task or activity relies on other activities in some way. Whether it’s waiting on the output of another task or for resources to be freed up, you need to manage many dependencies throughout any project.

Dependency management is the process of managing all of these interrelated tasks and resources to ensure that your overall project completes successfully, on time, and on budget.

When there are dependencies that need to be managed between projects, it’s referred to as project interdependency management.

Why dependency management is critical

If you don’t actively manage project dependencies, your project can go sideways fast. For example, what happens if one task is late and you don’t realize this will now over-allocate several of your team members next week unless you move around other tasks? Or what if a task can’t start when scheduled because the one it was dependent on wasn’t finished in time?

Imagine you’re building a new house and you have a home inspector scheduled to sign off on all the electrical wiring at the end of the month. But your schedule doesn’t have the electricians finishing the wiring until the middle of next month.

Without recognizing and managing this dependency, the inspector would show up, bill you for their time, and you would fail the inspection. You’d then have to try to re-book them for two weeks later when the wiring was actually ready. Having to repeat inspection would add costs to your project, and if the inspector wasn’t available at that time, it could significantly affect the entire project.

After all, the walls couldn’t be closed in until you passed inspection, which would impact the drywallers, the painters, and various other tasks and resources. As you can imagine, this leads to a snowball effect of increasing costs and delays.

Categories of project dependencies

Logical planning dependencies: These dependencies are logically driven and can’t be avoided. They’re intrinsic to the nature of the project and of the tasks involved. For example, you can’t plant a garden before you ready the garden bed.

Resource-based planning dependencies: These are dependencies that are driven by constraints. In other words, where a task could be accomplished faster or sooner if you had more resources. For example, if there are only a limited number of skilled professionals available to work on a project, it becomes necessary to space out work sequentially.

Preference planning dependencies: Preferential dependencies are guided by best practice or convenience. They are generally introduced in projects to focus on the quality of deliverables. For instance, it may be best practice to leave paint to dry for two days before laying on a second coat, even though technically you could wait less time.

Types of project dependencies

There are four types of project dependencies:

Benefits of dependency management in project management software

You need to be aware of how each project task depends on others to create an achievable project schedule. It’s the dependencies that help you work out the proper flow of the tasks.

You can create and manage your schedule outside of project management software, but the more dependencies you have, the harder this becomes.

For instance, if you’re using Excel to create a Gantt chart or schedule, what happens when a task doesn’t go according to plan? This could include a late start, a late finish, or changing the order and timing of tasks.

In any of these scenarios, you will now have to update every single follow-on task in your schedule manually. Doing this is time-consuming and increases the risk of errors in your schedule.

When you reschedule a task with dependencies using project management software, all dependent tasks are automatically rescheduled. Not only is this more efficient, but it results in a more accurate and reliable schedule.

Plus, you can use this functionality to efficiently run scenarios and do analyses before deciding to change your schedule. For example, if a team member says they want to start task D next week and move task C to the following week, you can automatically see how that switch will impact your resource loading and overall schedule before you approve the change.

Another benefit of project management software dependency management is creating and managing lead and lag times.

Lead time is defined as the duration of time by which an activity can be accelerated or advanced in relation to the predecessor task. This typically occurs when you have initially set up a Start-to-Finish relationship based on preference rather than logical dependency.

For instance, you may build your schedule so that editing doesn’t start until after writing ends. But now your project schedule is slipping, so you decide to start editing five days before the writing has ended (so the editor is reviewing the first few chapters while the writer is still finishing the last ones).

Instead of changing your dependency from FS to SS, you can easily add five days of lead time into your project schedule and instantly review how this impacts the overall project.

Lag time, on the other hand, is the duration of time by which a successor task is delayed in relation to the predecessor activity. Using lag time can help you build contingency into your schedule or account for “waiting periods” without modifying tasks’ estimated duration.

For instance, imagine you’re launching a new Facebook ad campaign. You’ve designed six different ad variations to see which ones perform best. Once the ads are live, you know you need to monitor performance and shut down the worst-performing ones. However, if you review results before enough time has passed, the data set could be too small and misleading.

By using a lag time of seven days, you can ensure a week has passed between the ads being published and the data being reviewed. Later, you can shorten or extend that lag time as needed based on the volume of data coming in and project’s needs.

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