Goal: Create relationships between projects

A single project rarely exists in a vacuum, even in a small company. Creating task dependencies (links) between projects accurately models the relationships between the different projects and helps keep them up-to-date.

You can also create inter-project dependencies between a task or an entire project and the deliverables that are identified in other projects.

Tip: This article is part of a series of articles within the Project Map that describe a broad set of project management activities. We call these activities "goals" because they are organized around the project management life cycle: Build a plan, track and manage a project, and close a project.

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Overview of a tall building under construction

number 1  Review what a project is     Before you start creating projects that link to other projects, consider what a project is — specifically, where it begins and where it ends.

 More . . .

A project is an endeavor that is both temporary and unique. It is temporary because it has a beginning, middle, and end, such as constructing a building or designing a new manufacturing process.

A project is unique because it involves doing something that hasn't been done before; that is, it does not represent an ongoing process, such as manufacturing metal ingots on a daily basis. Similarly, a project to create a specific building is unique because that specific building hasn't been built before.

When you link one project to another by creating dependencies between tasks in those projects, you aren't necessarily combining two projects into one. You are facilitating the management of two separate projects.

For example, your corporation's manufacturing environment may dictate that a process in one project depends on the scheduling of a process step from another project, such as the attachment of wings for an airplane being dependent upon a separate process in another facility that builds the wings. Perhaps other tasks in the other projects are also beyond your control.

Number 2  Create a dependency between tasks in different projects     When you have a task that relies on or drives a task in another project, you can create a task dependency to link the tasks in different projects.

Number 3  Change the dependency between tasks in different projects     You can change the link type of an external dependency from the default (finish-to-start) to start-to-start, finish-to-finish, or start-to-finish.

Number 4  Enter lead or lag time for cross-project task dependencies     As you can with task dependencies in a single project, you can enter lead time to overlap tasks or lag time to delay a successor task for external dependencies.

Number 5  Review the external task dependencies that are driving your project     When tasks in your project have dependencies on tasks in other projects, the progress of the external tasks affects the start and end dates of your project's tasks. You can review your project's task dependencies at any time to see how the external task dates will affect your project.

Number 6  Create a dependency on a deliverable in another project     If your project or a task in your project requires the completion of a specific deliverable in another project, you can create an inter-project dependency.

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