Dependency Mapping


Your team's work doesn't happen in isolation. Use this play to better understand what could potentially impact your project's success and create a plan to proactively manage it all. 

WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED?

Bring in the project owner and everyone contributing as part of the project team.

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People

2 - 12

Time

60 min

Difficulty

Easy

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Running the play

Your goal is to complete all three sections of the template during this session. Time management will be critical!

MATERIALS
  • Laptop
  • Large display screen
  • Whiteboard or shared digital document
  • Video conferencing (if you have remote team members)
  • Dependency mapping template
STEP 1

Set the stage (5 min)

Welcome the team and start by explaining what each section of the template is all about.

Systems Impacted: The aim of this section is to be as comprehensive as possible as you brainstorm systems, both upstream and downstream, that will affect or will be affected by your work. You'll continue to use this dependency mapping document throughout the project, so jot down details as to how each system will be affected.

Risks and Mitigations: A lot of potential risks lurk only in our individual heads throughout the project. Now is the time to get them out in the open and make a plan to ensure they don't derail your project. 

Feedback Loops: Consider this the action plan for managing the dependencies and risks you've just articulated. Make sure each major risk has an owner within the project and communication channel to ensure information is flowing both ways and being shared with all relevant teams. 

STEP 2

Brainstorm the systems affected (20 min)

As a team, brainstorm all the systems that are affected by your work. Once you have an exhaustive list, for each system, articulate:

  • Owner – the team and/or main point of contact for the system.
  • Type of impact – how does your work relate to this system?
  • Description of impact – include enough detail to build a shared understanding among team members and stakeholders.
STEP 3

Rattle off the potential risks (20 min)

Now is the time when you get to vent all your worst fears about the project. Give everyone 3-5 minutes to independently brainstorm risks. Share back to the group and document the agreed on risks in a table with the following information:

  • Risk – describe what could potentially derail the project.
  • Level of Impact – high, medium, or low.
  • Mitigation plan – how you will respond if this risk becomes reality. 
  • Owner – which member of your project team is leading the mitigation plan?
STEP 4

Make a plan to manage it all (15 min)

Now that the complex web of dependencies around your project is laid bare, it's time to get proactive about managing it all. Look back at all the risks and dependencies you've highlighted. For those that need to be actively managed throughout the project, name a stakeholder with whom you can partner to ensure alignment. For each stakeholder, complete the following information:

  • Stakeholder – name the person with whom you will partner.
  • Review cadence – weekly, monthly, or quarterly. 
  • Feedback notes & actions – use this space to share updates after your weekly/monthly/quarterly stakeholder conversations.

Nailed it?

Be sure to run a full Health Monitor session or checkpoint with your team to see if you're improving.

Find your Health Monitor

Follow-ups

Share your dependency map with relevant stakeholders and adjacent teams so they have a chance to suggest additions or edits. 

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