FAQ: Types of Dependencies

Dependencies help specify how one task relates to another and they help you track the order tasks need to be completed in. You can view a task’s dependencies from the Task and Timeline Views.

We often get asked about choosing the right type of dependencies, so let’s take a look at each of the options.

  1. Finish to Start: Task B can’t start until Task A has been completed. This is the most common type of dependency. Think of it as not being able to start cooking dinner (Task B) until you buy ingredients for it (Task A). 1
  2. Finish to Finish: Task B can’t finish before Task A is finished. The tasks don’t need to finish simultaneously, but the first task needs to be completed before the second task can be finished. In our dinner example, the table should be set (Task A) before we finish cooking (Task B). 2
  3. Start to Start: Task B can’t start before Task A starts. They don’t need to start simultaneously, but the first task should be in progress by the time the second task begins. When cooking dinner, it’s a good idea to start tossing a salad (Task B) only after you’ve popped the main course into the oven (Task A). 3
  4. Start to Finish (“Backward” dependency): Task A can’t finish before Task B starts. This type of dependency is rarely used, and an example of it can be shift work: in shift work, the relief shift worker has to arrive, clock in and start their shift, before the current shift worker can clock off and end their shift. If the relief shift is late, existing shift can’t finish. It can only finish once the following task has actually started. 4

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I was confused with the Start to Start arrow because I assumed Task B would be on the bottom. But if you do it that way round then when you drag Task B, Task A doesn't move. You need to make sure the arrow is going from Task A to Task B. Simple error but took me a while to work out.

Sholto Macpherson DigitalFirst.com

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Hi Sholto, yes, the start to start dependency only works one way. So if you have Task A above Task B and you create a dependency from B to A, then you can move A to into the future without affecting B. However, if you move B, A will move as well (unless there's a date constraint). 

Stephanie Westbrook Community Team at Wrike Wrike Product Manager Become a Wrike expert with Wrike Discover

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How would I set up dependencies that are conditional?  For example, we cannot send files to the printer unless the customer approves.  If the customer does not approve we do not want to click "complete" even though this step is technically complete as it will prompt the next task.  Is there a way to set two paths so that the next task will happen depending on the outcome of the conditional task?  Using the above example again, we would like to set a condition of "approved" (which would prompt us to send files to the printer) or "not approved" (which would prompt us to make changes and review again with the customer).

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@Robin Hey, happy to see you on the Community 🙂

There are no conditional dependencies, but I think there is a way to do what you are looking for. You can use Custom Workflows and also set up transitions for fixed or flexible Workflows. Also, there's a Task Approvals feature, you can add the Approvals to your Workflows as well.

Please check out the articles that I linked here and let me know if you'd like to discuss this further - I'd be happy to! 👐

Lisa Community Team at Wrike Wrike Product Manager Become a Wrike expert with Wrike Discover

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I'm a bit confused re the SF ('backward') dependency. In this post it says "Task A can’t finish before Task B starts", but on the Wrike Help Center "Task B can't finish before Task A starts". There does seem to be a subtle difference here?

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Hi Chris Schenk, thank you for reaching out! I don't really see the difference here except for different usage of the letters (that doesn't change the meaning for me), but I'm not sure about this, so I'll check with my colleagues from the Support team. We'll get back to you on this as soon as possible. 

Lisa Community Team at Wrike Wrike Product Manager Become a Wrike expert with Wrike Discover

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Hello Chris Schenk,

I can understand your confusion regarding the task dependencies and I hope I can help clear things up a bit here with an example of how these dependencies work in Wrike.

If the dependency is Finish to Start, then Dependency Task 2 can't Start before Dependency Task 1 is Finished, or else you will see a red line indicating the error:

With the Start to Finish dependency, Dependency Task 1 can't Finish before Dependency Task 2 Starts:

I hope this helps! I'm going to check with our Help Center team to make sure the wording is correct on the Help Center page you're referring to. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Chris!

Let me know if you have further questions and have a productive day! 😄

Aaron K. Community Team at Wrike Wrike Product Manager Become a Wrike expert with Wrike Discover

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Hello, I believe I set of the dependencies correctly on my blueprint. (My reference photo won't attach) I have it set that Task 5 can not start until Task 1-4 are complete. However, when I made a test project with this blueprint, I was able to mark Task 5 as complete even though the first 4 tasks weren't started. Do I need to mark an additional setting to not allow action on Task 5 until 1-4 are complete?

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Hi Jerelyn Ontiveros,

Thanks for your question!

Task dependencies are great for showing the relationship between tasks (Task 1 comes before Task 2, Task 2 before Task 3, and so on), but the dependencies do not affect the tasks beyond scheduling. All of the tasks in a dependency chain still function as independent tasks, except that rescheduling one task will automatically shift the dates on the active tasks downstream in the chain. This means that there is really no way to prevent Task 3 from being worked on and completed before Tasks 1 and 2, or the completion of Task 2 before Task 1.

Please let us know if you have further questions on using the task dependencies and have a productive day! 😄

Aaron K. Community Team at Wrike Wrike Product Manager Become a Wrike expert with Wrike Discover

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