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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 upcoming webinar will be 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?


Satya Narayan Dash
Written by Satya Narayan Dash

Satya Narayan Dash is a management professional, coach, and author of multiple books: I Want To Be a PMP, I Want To Be a RMP, and I Want To Be An ACP, as well as his latest one, I Want To Be A CAPM. With his leadership and guidance, over 1500 aspirants have successfully cracked PMP, ACP, RMP, and CAPM examinations – in fact, there are 80 documented success stories in detail on these certifications. Satya’s course “PMP Live Lessons – Guaranteed Pass or Your Money Back” has made many successful PMPs, and he has created new management paradigms, including Practical PMP, Practical RMP, Agile PMP, hands-on Agile-related courses, and his recently launched “CAPM Live Lessons – Guaranteed Pass or Your Money Back.” His web presence is at https://managementyogi.com, and he can be contacted via email at managementyogi@gmail.com.


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