Understanding Dependencies, Leads, and Lags with MS Project

There are many knowledge areas, such as integration management, schedule management, cost management, quality management, risk management, etc., that a project manager needs to thoroughly consider when managing a project.

Among these, schedule and/or time management typically come out on top. This is because time is not dependent on anyone, and time doesn’t wait for anyone. In many 2D and 3D reports that you may have seen or reported yourself, time is almost always an independent variable, rarely a dependent one!

In the knowledge area of schedule management, one important aspect is dependencies, leads, and lags among various tasks of a project. Regardless of the management approach you use–predictive, adaptive, or anything in between–you, as the project manager, need to know the dependencies to manage the project. This understanding will also be used to further network diagram analysis, critical path analysis, cost management, risk management, vendor management, and resource management,  among other aspects.

There are many types of dependencies such as finish to finish, start to start, and start to finish while using precedence diagramming method (PDM). As noted in the PMBOK® guide, the PM selects the scheduling method (predictive, adaptive, or otherwise), enters project specific data such as dependencies/relationships, and then enters the leads and lags into a project management tool. The management tool used to illustrate this in my on-demand webinar is Microsoft® Project. Project creates the schedule model, which in turn creates the project schedule for the project. This project schedule is then used, not only in schedule management, but also in other knowledge areas.

MS Project software, i.e., the scheduling tool shown in the above figure, supports all possible relationships among the tasks or activities of a project. It also supports leads and lags in various flavors.

Watch my on-demand webinar: “Understanding Dependencies, Leads, and Lags with MS Project.” We explore answers to the following questions:

  • What are the various types of dependencies and relationships?
  • How are relationships represented graphically?
  • What are leads and lags, and how they are associated with dependencies?
  • What are real-world possibilities with various dependencies?
  • How does Microsoft Project software handle dependencies, leads, and lags?


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Written by Satya Narayan Dash
Satya Narayan Dash is a management professional, coach, and author of multiple books. Under his guidance, over 2,000 professionals have successfully cracked PMP, ACP, RMP, and CAPM examinations – in fact, there are over 100 documented success stories written by these professionals. His course, PMP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass, has made many successful PMPs, and he’s recently launched RMP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass and ACP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass. His web presence is at https://managementyogi.com, and he can be contacted via email at managementyogi@gmail.com.  
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