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Managing Project Dependencies

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Projects don't run in silos or in a vacuum. They run in organized, chaotic environments where everyone is working toward the end result. There's nothing wrong with that--it's how organizations achieve multiple results in a short period of time.

The key, of course, is to manage all these changes and interdependent projects.

But what if you are part of a project that's not a part of any program or portfolio with an assigned program or portfolio manager or director? How do you manage those interdependencies that are not part of your scope?

In my view, it's a matter of paying attention and linking yourself to three key areas:

•    Organization: Culture, processes, standards, rules, events, special blackout periods, etc.

•    Operations: Operational teams responsible for change management, incident management, delivery and quality management/control

•    Project Delivery: Such as a project management office or a business committee or unit that's responsible for project delivery

No matter what dependencies may exist, they will be manifested through these three main channels.


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I believe part of what you're saying falls on the PMO's shoulder, and not only the PMs.

Having said that, I have published an elaborate article on the subject: tips for breaking project dependencies http://www.pmhut.com/tips-for-breaking-project-dependencies. I know for a fact that most project dependencies cannot be broken, but the article offers a different perspective on the subject.

Generally, I would consider two things the biggest threat to such an "orphaned" project.

The first one is a change in company's priorities. That is partially covered in the "organization" area you mention in your post, but basically there is a strong need for enhanced and properly executed stakeholder analysis/management.

The second one—and that one i can not find within your three areas—is resourcing. scheduling conflicts, shifts cased by other project's delays and so on that will definitely occur and without very strict rules of resource allocation and management. The failure of the projects is then inevitable ...

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