Use a Dependency Map for Dependency Mapping

All program managers must track the dependencies that exist between the projects which make up their program. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is by using a Dependency Map.

A Dependency Map allows us to visualise the critical cross-project dependencies throughout the duration of the program. The Dependency Map should not be confused with the Program Plan, which shows the milestones of the different projects and the points at which benefits can start to be realised during the program.

A dependency map provides two key benefits to you as a program manager:

  1. It allows you to ensure the complex network of project interdependencies is coordinated and synchronised.
  2. It allows you to track that work packages produced by the different project teams are integrated.

A simple dependency map is shown below.


In this example we can see that in order for the advertising agency to be briefed by the Marketing team, they must have the final Hardware and Software designs. As the Hardware and Software teams are different project teams, before the designs are given to marketing they will be checked for consistency by the Quality Assurance team.

During a program, a program manager will spend a large portion of their time tracking and coordinating project interdependencies, and The Dependency Map is the key tool I use for doing this.

Kevin says

Great article – my team and I face the same challenge of representing the “program path” for a group of projects. Representing the key milestones across program projects like you did would help a great deal.

What did you use for the dependency map? An Excel template? Can you point me to the tool you used if it was not Excel? Thanks!

Denis says

Thanks Kevin,

To date I’ve been using Excel as you guessed. I’ll put a template onto this blog soon for people to download.


James says

Hi, setting this up myself. Would be really useful to see a template as mentioned.

Thanks, and great site!

Denis says

No problem, will get the template uploaded this week.


jim says

I’m a program manager for a global m&a program. We have many dependencies and a map is something that is much needed, but there is so much complexity and dependencies that I have not found a good way to represent this at the right level. Any samples would be appreciated.

Denis says

Hi Jim,

I’ve had several requests for just that. I wanted to get it posted in the past two weeks but I’ve been travelling back and forth to the US so have been slow. I’ll try to get it out this week for sure.


Tom says

Hi All,

A template would be extremely useful for a project I am currently working on, Is there one available now?


Mark says

I have found IDEF0 diagrams useful to map complex dependencies for programs and projects. basically a box (activity) with inputs, controls, mechanisms feeding in and outputs. Visio profession has a template.
or visit for the full details

Denis says

Hi Tom,

I’ll email you through a simple template you can use, provided you don’t have too many dependencies. If you do then I suggest you delegate as many as possible to enable you to use the template.

If you need something more rigorous then investigate using a Dependency Structure Matrix (DSM).


Gareth says


just discovered this and very keen to get my hands on the tamplate – but can’t see it on the article – can anyone provide a copy?

Denis says

Hi Gareth,

I’ve recently switched to using a Mac so don’t have a copy, but it should be relatively simple to create using Excel.


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