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PMP Exam Tips: Activity Dependency Types

Dependencies like discretionary (soft logic) or mandatory are used to determine the order of activities in Sequence Activities project management process. Important especially for PMP exam candidates. Activity dependencies are documented as an attribute of related activities which can be considered as project documents update.

In this PMP certification exam preparation article, I would like to share following PMP exam tips with project managers.

Activity dependency types defined for PMP exam in project management:
1. Mandatory Dependency
2. Discretionary Dependency
3. Internal Dependency
4. External Dependency

An activity can have two of the above activity dependency attributes at a time. But can not be mandatory and discretionary at the same time. Similarly an activity dependency can be either internal or external.

To summarize, an activity can have one of the following dependencies: mandatory-external, mandatory-internal, discretionary-external or discretionary-internal.

Discretionary Dependency

An important PMP exam tip for discretionary dependency is that discretionary dependencies are also referred as soft logic, preferred logic or preferential logic. Discretionary dependencies are "should be" requirements. There is a best practise behind discretionary dependency of an activity. If in the PMP exam question, there is a mention to lessons learned, business knowledge or best practises then it is probably about a discretionary dependency.

Mandatory Dependency

On the other hand, mandatory dependency is sometimes referred as hard logic in PMP exam questions. Mandatory dependencies are used for activities that are "must be", requirements from physical limitations, contracts or laws (contractually or legally mandatory requirements).

Internal Dependency

If there is not any involvement of a third party related with activities and dependencies, these are referred as internal dependencies.

External Dependency

If the activity depends on third party involvement where there is not a control of project members then this is an external dependency.


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