When we talk about something being dependent, it’s not always in the most positive of contexts. Caring for an overly dependent pet, claiming a dependent on your taxes, an economy’s dependence on foreign oil… you get the idea.
But in Roadmunk, Dependencies won’t have you raising an eyebrow or wincing with anticipation. On the contrary, Dependencies are one of the most useful, collaborative features you can take advantage of on your roadmapping journey. With Dependencies, you can create multiple relationships between items and roadmaps across your organization, which ultimately makes for better collaboration, alignment and strengthened decision making.
Throughout this guide, we’ll show you how to use and implement Dependencies within your own roadmaps. From there, we’ll highlight some key benefits of this feature that will help you increase productivity and partnerships within your own product team.
Understanding Dependencies in Roadmunk
Before we zoom in on what makes Dependencies so powerful, let’s take a step back and examine what they are in detail to lay a proper framework.
At the most basic level, Dependencies allow you to link your items by date and visualize that connection on your roadmaps. In turn, this visual representation provides your team full visibility into how your items are intertwined. Ideally, creating Dependencies will help you identify your most dependent items early on in the planning process. That way, you can highlight any potential risks, giving your team clarity on who needs to work on what before moving forward.
Within Roadmunk, you have access to two types of Dependencies: Moves With Dependencies and Blocking Dependencies. Let’s see how and when you should put them to use.
Moves With Dependencies
If it’s better alignment that you want, Moves With Dependencies will be your best friends. These types of Dependencies move with each other in tandem—so as one item moves, other dependent items are proportionally moved by the same time period.
How might this look when put into practice? Let’s say you’re planning a product update to one of your existing features. Unfortunately, your dev team came up against an unexpected blocker, and they’ll need more time to fix the issue. Not to fear, because with Moves With Dependencies, you can simply drag one item across your roadmap, and any dependent items will follow in parallel. That means any other teams who need to be in the know about the unexpected snag will automatically be notified via email and in-app about the change, and thus the dates on their corresponding items will also be updated.
Items that are united together by Moves With Dependencies are practically joined at the hip—they automatically move in sync wherever they go, which is why their relationship is represented by a solid line on roadmaps. Nothing is going to get in the way of this bond, especially not a shifting deadline.
Not to be outdone by Moving Dependencies, Blocking Dependencies allow you to create a relationship in which one item cannot move before or after the other. If you have a complex set of tasks that need to happen in a certain order, Blocking Dependencies will be a key part of your roadmaps.
Blocking Dependencies are just as visually neat and tidy as their counterparts. But you’ll notice that they’re joined by a dotted line instead of a solid one, symbolizing the difference in how connected items are related.
Picture this: Your product team is working on a brand new mobile app. Naturally, there’s a lot to juggle across a bunch of different teams and initiatives. And some of these initiatives—like designing an icon—have to be completed before others—like submitting to the App Store. Your projects that come earlier in the process need to be visualized in a way that shows this timely relationship, where one item is reliant on the other.
Luckily, Blocking Dependencies are here to save the day. Whether you need to “block” specific teams or time periods, you can rest assured that your items will always be in the right order based on their time-sensitive relationships.
Putting Dependencies to work in your roadmaps
What makes Dependencies so great? It’s not just the clarity they offer around what needs to be done and who’s doing it. The benefits are numerous, but we’ll focus on two major highlights that make Dependencies so, well, dependable.
Strengthen your decision-making
Too often, roadmaps appear cluttered and disorganized, making it difficult to get an accurate view of your data at a glance. What makes Dependencies stand out is their visual accessibility. You can easily understand the relationship between your items and the teams responsible for them, in addition to what benefits or risks might be posed by moving them around.
All of this makes for better decision-making on your part—when you can quickly recognize how your items all work together on your roadmap, it’s that much easier to make better decisions about your product going forward.
Enable collaboration between team members
Roadmaps themselves are inherently collaborative tools. But when you add Dependencies to the mix? They get an added boost with even more transparency, accountability and all-around teamwork magic.
By now you know that Roadmunk’s Dependencies feature lets you link an item to any other item. But what you might not know is that you can create this link between items, even if they exist on different roadmaps owned by your teammates. Not only does this cross-roadmap functionality increase visibility within your team, but it also keeps your objectives aligned based on your product pipeline.
This is especially important for larger teams, where the ability to identify and surface Dependencies might otherwise get overlooked or lost in the decision-making process—not to mention the time saved as a result of grouping and moving dependent items together.
Tips for using Dependencies in Roadmunk
Now that you have a solid understanding of what Dependencies are and how you can easily incorporate them into your roadmaps, let’s finish up by looking at some final best practices for using them in Roadmunk.
Choose your view
Once you've created a Dependency, there are multiple ways you can visualize the relationship between dependent items.
First, you’ll notice that any Dependencies in the Items Table view will show up as circular icons next to the date, displaying the total number of Dependencies each item has.
If you’re in the Timeline visualization, Dependencies will again be represented by circular icons showing the total number that are linked to that particular item. When you hover over an item in this view, you’ll see that any connecting Dependency lines will appear, making it that much easier to visualize how dependent items and Key Dates are linked to each other. (Remember, dotted lines represent Blocking Dependences, while solid lines represent Moves With Dependencies.)
Dependencies in the Swimlane visualization will also have circular icons next to them, but note that Dependency lines are only supported in the Timeline visualization.
You can even view your Dependencies on Master Roadmaps, which roll up any of your team’s roadmaps into one high-level view of all your Dependencies. However you choose to view your Dependencies, your ultimate goal is to make it as effortless as possible to visualize the many moving parts so that prioritizing them is that much easier to do.
Share with stakeholders
Want to keep the right people in the know about Dependencies on your roadmaps? You can always export them as a PNG, HTML file, or publish them to a URL. Beyond that, you can choose whether or not to show Dependency lines on your exported roadmaps. That way, your most important stakeholders will have visibility into the relationships between your items.
Once your roadmap has been shared with the people who matter most, any items with Dependencies will still be linked together with the appropriate solid or dotted lines to show their relationship.