Projects are rarely conducted in a vacuum. Whether the project you’re managing is small or large, simple or complex, you will most likely encounter dependencies tied to assets outside your project organization.
Here five simple steps to help you manage project dependencies that are spread across teams, departments and assets.
1. Assess and document potential project dependencies: Determine each dependency’s type, profile, specifications, timeline and owner. For example, you might have to rely on the QA or legal department to check your work, end-users to validate your product or other teams that will have to adapt their products because of your project’s outcome.
You could document HR dependencies in your project’s HR plan. Non-HR resources could be documented in a hierarchical resource breakdown structure (RBS). Or you could just use a simple spreadsheet, where you store all your dependencies organized by types, ownership, etc.
2. Align and interlock scope: Define a clear and determined purpose/scope for each dependency and align with the team providing or fulfilling it. Interlock your dependencies with the related teams or organizations.
For instance, if your project will need a certain setup from your company’s infrastructure team, ensure that you define the requirements (how many servers you need, what the technical specs are, what software needs to be installed, etc.). Finally, confirm that this setup can be delivered as requested.
3. Align dependency timelines: Specify exactly when your dependency is required and for how long. Interlock the timeline to secure its on-time delivery or availability.
To continue the previous example, you might request your company’s infrastructure team to deliver the servers no later than July 31 so you can use the setup during a testing period that would stretch from August 1 to September 30.
4. Monitor and control dependencies throughout the project: It will probably be impossible to precisely plan for all of your project’s dependencies from the very beginning—and then stick to that plan until project closure.
Therefore, you should maintain and review your dependencies list, HR plan or RBS throughout the project. New dependencies might show up while others might become dispensable.
5. Collect sign-offs: Sign-offs are as important as interlocks. You have to secure and collect them from your counterparts.
Interlocks enforce commitment, responsibility and accountability, whereas sign-offs confirm the delivery or the fulfillment within the agreed boundaries.
For instance, an end-user outside of your project team will sign-off on the product change your project generated, confirming that it conforms with his or her requirements or expectations. Or an interface project team will sign-off on your revamped software component, confirming that your project’s outcome did not break their related components or business processes.
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