The dependencies identification and monitoring process is a critical part of effectively managing risks for an organization’s initiative, objective, or strategy. It can be used on its own or as part of a comprehensive risk assessment. Dependencies are events or processes that are reliant on the results of your initiative (i.e., outbound), or on which your initiative is reliant (i.e., inbound) – processes that if interrupted without notice could have a significant impact on the flow of activities. Your initiative can be highly dependent on other events/processes (i.e., “tightly coupled”) or less rigid and time-sensitive (i.e., “loosely coupled”) (Kaufman, 2012). Identifying and monitoring these dependencies can help you avoid any interruptions and ensure that everyone involved understands their role.
The dependencies identification and monitoring process consists of 4 simple steps:
- Identify the dependencies involved in your initiative.
- Classify each dependency by category.
- Validate the dependencies listed by voting for those that you agree impact your initiative.
- Rate the impact of each dependency.
- Develop an action plan to monitor the dependencies and flag any potential interruptions.
To increase your initiative’s likelihood of success, you must ensure that all parts are accounted for and functioning as anticipated – whether it’s related to your supply chain, facilities, IT, or even team members (Turner, 2011). If your initiative or project relies on someone or something else, you need to monitor those dependencies diligently so that if and when any interruptions occur, you can get back on track as quickly as possible. Any dependency can turn into a risk if it is interrupted, and therefore continual monitoring is a critical step in risk management for your organization.
Anticipating and understanding the impact of these potential interruptions is a critical step in mitigating risks (Turner, 2011). Being able to anticipate and monitor the various dependencies involved in your initiative will allow you to keep your initiative running smoothly and avoid any unpleasant surprises. Eliminating any unnecessary dependencies by making your initiative more loosely coupled can also help reduce the risk of a failure cascading through the chain of dependencies involved in your initiative (Kaufman, 2012). As the saying goes, “no man is an island” – so don’t treat your initiative as if it is.
1) NOODLE & TAG: Identify the dependencies involved in your initiative, and categorize using the following tags (can be customized):
2) COMBINE to eliminate duplicates and move forward with only unique dependencies.
3) VOTE for the dependencies that you agree are involved in your initiative.
4) RATE each dependency based on its impact on your initiative (if inbound) or another (if outbound).
5) ACTION PLAN: Develop a specific action plan to monitor the dependencies.
- Prioritized list of the most impactful dependencies
- Stakeholder clarity about responsibilities and dependencies on others
- Valuable insight into the flow of work and the impact of each initiative onto another
- Action plan to monitor dependencies and prevent interruptions
BENEFITS & IMPACT
This exercise will enable:
Quality – Ensure all stakeholders have a shared understanding of the dependencies involved in your initiative. Proactively monitoring the dependencies will avoid unnecessary surprises and interruptions.
Efficiency – Quickly prioritize a wide range of dependencies by engaging stakeholders at times that are convenient for them to contribute.
Engagement – Involve all relevant stakeholders in the evaluating and monitoring process, allowing for diverse input and ideas.
Agility – Understand the potential impact of your initiative’s key dependencies, and develop an action plan to respond quickly and effectively to any issues that arise.
Kaufman, J. (2012). What is “interdependence”? The personal MBA: Master the art of business. https://personalmba.com/interdependence/
Turner, M. D. (2011). Be prepared to bounce back: Building a resilient supply chain. Strategy&. https://www.strategyand.pwc.com/reports/prepared-bounce-back-building-resilient