Project Management Knowledge

Discretionary Dependency

The strength of the project schedule is based on the definition of the activities, deliverables, estimation of effort and durations, organizations and sequence of the work efforts. All of the three elements are very crucial in effective project planning. The problem, however, is that most project managers struggle with organizing the project. In project management, it is important for the project team to create a work breakdown structure that is arranged in a structured and sequenced manner. Thus, managing dependencies are crucial.

Dependencies depict the relationship of the preceding tasks to the succeeding tasks. Tasks can have multiple preceding and succeeding tasks. In project management, there are three types of dependencies that can lead to the creation of a strong project schedule. These include the (1) mandatory dependencies, (2) external dependencies and (3) discretionary dependencies.

The discretionary dependency, also called soft logic, reflect how project teams anticipate the work to be completed. This type of dependency allows the project team to optimize the flow of the work through the project life cycle. Simply put, activities can happen the same time as another group of activities.  Project managers utilize this dependency to create a “float” on the schedule.

It is also defined as the process that utilizes the best practice techniques in the industry based on the experience of the project manager and the team. It also works within a particular application area of a particular project where a specific sequence is needed.

To ensure that the project dependency is effectively managed, it is important for the project managers to use different tools and strategies. These include the use of date constraints and summary task for dependencies.  Looking for activities without predecessors and successors is also an effective way to manage dependencies.

This term is defined in the 5th edition of the PMBOK.

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