Task Dependencies vs. Custom Workflows: When to Use Each in Wrike (2023)

Wrike is an incredibly flexible tool, offering several ways your team can set up your projects, track your progress, and reach your goals. But have you ever had too many options? Using Wrike can be like walking into an ice cream shop with 20+ flavors and wanting to try all of them.

One of the most common choices Wrikers deliberate over is "Should I track project progress using a Custom Workflow, or should I rely on a chain of task dependencies?"

We're here with some helpful tips to help you decide. And keep in mind: this isn't solely an either/or case — you can leverage a combination of these methods to effectively manage your work.

When to Use a Chain of Task Dependencies in Wrike

Task Dependencies vs. Custom Workflows: When to Use Each in Wrike (1)

(Video) [Tutorial] Custom Workflows

Creating a chain of separate tasks linked together using dependencies allows you to show which tasks are happening at what times, by whom, and in what exact order. It's of enormous importance and value to any project-based and deliverable-oriented team (and if you think your team doesn't have projects or deliverables, spoiler alert: you're wrong).

There are two reasons you should consider setting up your work in this way:

1. Auto-adjusting timelines

Dependencies in Wrike tell you the order in which tasks need to happen. For example, you could have 5 tasks that must happen in a specific sequence (Task 1, then Task 2, etc.).

Auto-adjusting timelines helps you automatically update due dates on linked tasks when plans move forward or backward. If Task 3 ends up taking a few days longer than planned, you can update its due date accordingly, and the start and end dates for Tasks 4 and 5 will be pushed back in kind. Alternatively, if we realize that Task 2 can be finished more quickly than anticipated, shortening its duration and moving its due date forward will automatically shift Tasks 3-5 earlier as well — no point in sitting around waiting to start your next steps!

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2. Up-to-bat emails

One of the biggest bottlenecks in a project is not realizing you're supposed to start on your piece of the project puzzle. Because unless you're keeping a close eye on your colleague's progress (which they won't like, promise), or they came to you immediately to tell you that they finished their task (which they won't do, pinky swear), you'll be waiting until your next status update meeting to learn that you could have started your part three days ago.

Instead, you could use a chain of linked tasks in Wrike to get notification emails when someone completes the task you've been waiting on. Set up dependencies between the tasks and make sure you're assigned to the task you're responsible for in the workflow; as soon as Jack hits 'Complete' on Task 1, the assignee for Task 2 will get an email saying it's time to start work. Now your team won't have to hawk over everything to make sure work is getting done as quickly as possible.

Just remember, setting up a chain of dependent tasks may be overly rigid for your team. If you aren't married to your original timeline, it's not as easy to manipulate your workflow as using the Custom Statuses & Workflow method. Anything non-standard that gets thrown into the mix (an extra step, unforeseen time off, etc.) will impact your timeline and need to be factored into your chain of dependencies, which can require some re-work. We strongly recommended that anyone employing this dependency-driven methodology spend some time taking at least a rudimentary course in formal project management to learn about things like critical path, scope creep, and risk management.

Advantages of Task Dependencies:

  • Laser-focused timelines with easily anticipated due dates and delivery milestones
  • Crystal-clear delegation of responsibilities — everyone knows who is working on what, when, and in what order
  • Layered visibility allows PMs to oversee complex initiatives, while individual contributors only have to focus on what they're personally working on that week
  • Baseline Chart will show you how the team delivered on your project compared to the original estimation
  • Great for linking just two or three dependent tasks when you want to get the up-to-bat email notifications

Disadvantages of Task Dependencies:

  • Reliant on strong project management practices and team agreement on timelines and responsibilities
  • Requires ongoing monitoring by the project owner to ensure no changes to the plan are needed
  • Does not easily accommodate projects with unforeseen back-and-forth such as approvals, reviews, or multiple rounds of edits

When to Use a Custom Workflow in Wrike

Task Dependencies vs. Custom Workflows: When to Use Each in Wrike (2)

(Video) Project Management Software | Wrike Overview Product Demo

With Wrike Enterprise, you can leverage Custom Workflows for more flexibility in your workflow.There are two rationales behind moving a single task through a series of unique statuses in a Custom Workflow:

1. Preserving information

If you're producing content and the final outcome relies on input from multiple people, you would hate wasting time using a chain of tasks. You'd attach your version of a file to a task, mark it complete, and notify the next person in line; then the next person would be forced to go back to the previous task, download your file, edit it, attach it to their own task, mark their task complete, and notify the next person, ad infinitum.

Instead, by only changing the custom status and assignee of a single task, you can use Wrike's file versioning feature to consolidate all files and versions in a single location, thus streamlining your team's workflow.

Similarly, any notes taken in the description field that need to pass from person to person will be easier to find, modify, and collaborate on when they're preserved in a single task, instead of being moved around and duplicated between tasks. You don't want people to spend (i.e. waste) time scouring through tasks looking for the most recent version of the information when you can easily consolidate it in a single task.

(Video) [Tutorial] Tasks & Subtasks in Wrike

2. Non-linear processes

When getting from A to Z, sometimes you hit A, B, C, and all 26 letters in order just once before finishing your project. More often, that isn't the case at all. You need to square dance around and switch back and forth between steps, people, etc. before reaching the final Z. That can be a perfectly normal and productive workflow, but if you've set up your chain of tasks to follow a prescribed path, it makes work messy.

Instead, by relying on a Custom Workflow you can bounce between statuses, moving 'forward' and 'backward' with ease, passing off the "next step baton" to individuals as necessary.

A great example is, again, generating content. Often, content generation will begin with an idea, then copy will be drafted, edited, designed, approved, and published. However, each piece of content can go through any number of revisions, edits, and designs, so it's nearly impossible to determine ahead of time how many 'Review' steps you'll need. If you use a Custom Workflow instead of a chain of tasks, your content can easily move from 'In Draft' to 'In Review' and back again as many times as needed, each time changing who is assigned and responsible for the current stage.

Advantages of Custom Workflows:

  • Amazing flexibility (as shown above)
  • In-depth reporting, especially with Dashboards, shows exactly where a task is in a certain process, and managers can easily glean what is currently 'In Review' or 'Needs Approval'
  • Color-coding to make task progress easier to ascertain at a glance
  • Fewer tasks cluttering your workspace
  • Clearer progress markers mitigate the need for extra status update meetings

Disadvantages of Custom Workflows:

  • Due dates are not tied to status changes, meaning that you need to continuously change the task's due date to reflect when the next step must begin
  • Very minor, but worth noting: Assignees are not tied to specific statuses, meaning that if someone is responsible for writing and someone else is responsible for reviewing, you either need to (1) both be assigned to the task and know who is responsible for each stage, or (2) switch assignees every time you switch a status.

Learn More on How to Use Custom Workflows & Task Dependencies

That's why we built them! Relying solely on managing a long chain of task dependencies can be complicated without proper project management training.

(Video) [Getting Started] Wrike for Managers

Don't forget that these two methodologies can always be combined for incredibly effective collaboration! Certain steps along a project timeline may need specialized statuses to best manage their progress, and they can sit within a longer chain of tasks connected by dependencies. Ultimately, different projects will have different needs and we are here to support however you work best.

If you still can't figure out the best way to use Custom Workflows and Task Dependencies for your team and you'd like to learn more, reach out to our Support team or talk to us in the comments below! We're standing by to answer all your questions.


What type of dependency should be used between tasks? ›

Dependencies are the relationships of the preceding tasks to the succeeding tasks. Tasks may have multiple preceding tasks and multiple succeeding tasks. The most common dependency relationship is a finish-to-start relationship.

What are the 4 types of dependencies? ›

4 standard dependency types in project management
  • Finish-to-start dependency. In a finish-to-start dependency, one element requires the completion of another before you can begin it. ...
  • Finish-to-finish dependency. ...
  • Start-to-start dependency. ...
  • Start-to-finish dependencies.
5 days ago

What is the importance of task dependencies? ›

Put another way: a task dependency is where a task relies on other tasks to be completed before it can be performed. Task dependencies help teams decide how to approach the project and gives them a structure for completing the project in the shortest amount of time.

Which task dependency is the most commonly used? ›

Finish-to-start (FS): This is the most common type of task dependency. A finish-to-start task dependency means a task can't start until its preceding task is finished. This occurs in most projects where work needs to be executed sequentially.

What are the three types of task dependencies? ›

Types of task dependencies in project management
  • Finish to Start (FtS): This is the most common task dependency. ...
  • Finish to Finish (FtF): Task B cannot finish until Task A is also completed. ...
  • Start to Start (StS): Task B cannot start before Task A starts.
Jan 4, 2023

How many types of task dependencies are there? ›

The four types are as follows – Finish to Start, Finish to Finish, Start to Start, and Start to Finish. This is the approach you will find in most project management guides and the one that is also closely related to visualizing projects on a Gantt chart.

How many task dependencies are there? ›

There are 4 types of dependency relationships. A task can have multiple successors or multiple predecessors.

What is an example of dependent task? ›

You can set the order in which you want your tasks to be completed by defining dependencies between the tasks. This can help you arrange your workflow. For example: the child task “bake a cake” does not become due until the parent task “Buy some flour” has been completed.

Are dependencies good or bad? ›

Dependencies are bad for one small and simple fact: we need to trust other people, and our tools give us nothing to manage that trust. To understand what exactly this means, let us first look at a real-life example.

Does dependencies must be present when an application runs in an environment? ›

Build-time dependency should be present when an application is run.

What are the reasons for creating dependencies of project activities? ›

Managing dependencies within a project will help both the project manager and team work and manage tasks in their best possible order. This helps ensure a project is completed on time, if not ahead of time.

How do I map dependencies between projects? ›

  1. Identify all of the tasks and subtasks involved in each project. ...
  2. Assign responsibilities and relevant stakeholders to each task. ...
  3. List the internal and external dependencies of each task. ...
  4. Categorize dependencies into their types. ...
  5. Factor in constraints.
Jun 11, 2022

How do you explain dependencies? ›

A dependency describes the relationship among activities and specifies the particular order in which they need to be performed. Dependencies arise in every decision making, planning and developing process and are ideally predetermined.

How do you manage dependencies? ›

How to Manage Dependencies in Project Management?
  1. Identify dependencies and constraints. The first thing to do is understanding task dependencies and constraints that can have an impact on your project. ...
  2. Add the dependencies to your project charter. ...
  3. Calculate the critical path. ...
  4. Share with stakeholders. ...
  5. Track dependencies.
May 17, 2022

What are the 4 types of tasks? ›

What are the different types of tasks?
  • Incidential tasks.
  • Coordinated tasks.
  • Planned tasks.

What is the most frequently used type of dependency between activities used in scheduling? ›

FS [Finish-to-Start]

This is the most commonly used dependency in project management. It's when project managers finish a project task before they start another one.

What are the four types of inter task dependencies that determine the start? ›

There are four standard types of dependencies:
  • Finish to start (FS) A FS B means "activity A must finish before activity B can begin" (or "B can't start until A has finished"). ...
  • Finish to finish (FF) ...
  • Start to start (SS). ...
  • Start to finish (SF)

What are the 3 stages of task? ›

What is the task-based method?
  • The pre-task. During this stage, which can take up a whole lesson if needed, the teacher introduces the task to the students and gets them motivated to solve it. ...
  • The task. ...
  • The review (or post-task)
Apr 6, 2021

How you determine sequence and dependencies of tasks? ›

The sequencing of most project activities is determined by certain attributes of the dependency between and among the activities. Dependencies are the relationships among tasks, activities, or other schedule items that determine the order in which activities need to be performed.

How many dependencies is too many? ›

The fact your class has so many dependencies indicates there are more than one responsibilities within the class. Often there is an implicit domain concept waiting to be made explicit by identifying it and making it into its own service. Generally speaking, most classes should never need more than 4-5 dependencies.

What must a project manager do before creating a dependency schedule? ›

A project manager needs to set task dependencies to:
  • Define the sequence of tasks in a project plan.
  • Figure out the critical path of tasks (how long each task is expected to take to be completed)
  • Identify required resources and potential scheduling issues.
  • Monitoring and managing tasks within the project plan.

How do you calculate dependencies in project management? ›

In order to identify project dependencies, you must first create a map of project tasks. Next, look for tasks that the team cannot perform until they receive information or deliverables from a previous task. Those tasks are dependent.

Is predecessor the same as dependencies? ›

By definition, the predecessor is the first task; it controls the start or end date for all related successor tasks. The successor, by contrast, is the task whose start or end date is controlled by the predecessor. A dependency is the relationship between predecessor and successor tasks.

What is the 2 task dependencies? ›

Internal dependencies establish relations between different activities within the project. External dependencies describe an input from an external source that is required before a task can proceed.

How many types of dependencies or relationships between activities? ›

The four main types of activity dependencies include Finish-to-Start (FS), Start-to-Start (SS), Start-to-Finish (SF), and Finish-to-Finish (FF).

Which is the default task dependency and how does it work? ›

Finish to start (FS)

This dependency is the default one, because is the most common you're going to use in your projects. In this scenario, the predecessor task must finish before the successor can start (but it might start at a later date).

What are examples of start to start dependencies? ›

A SS or Start to Start dependency says that the successor activity can't start unless the predecessor activity has been initiated. But after this initial constraint, the two activities can proceed in parallel. For example, baking the cake and making the icing are an example of a start to start dependency.

What is start to start task dependency example? ›

In order to begin painting the building, there must be assembled scaffolding in place which can be used. The task “paint exterior” therefore cannot begin until the task “assemble scaffolding” has been started. This is an example of a Start-to-Start task dependency as task 2 can only begin once task 1 has started.

What are disadvantages of dependencies? ›

The results show that dependency has disadvantages like constraints and burdens in daily life. The patient adjusts both in a reactive and proactive way. The constraints are apparent through reduced autonomy in daily life and limited possibilities for negotiation.

What is the negative effect of dependency? ›

Dependency can lead to feelings of depression, agitation, anger, and anxiety. These impact the user and everyone else around him or her. Drug use also heightens the risk of communicable disease and can worsen existing mental health conditions.

What is the problem with dependency? ›

The analysis of dependency work suggests that for care professionals, dependency is a threefold problem: one of self-determination, one of parity and one of self-worth. These findings suggest that patient autonomy cannot be a full solution to the problem of dependency in long-term care relations.

Should you always update dependencies? ›

One of the most important steps of securing your code base, your software, and your applications, is to update the dependencies they rely on. In principle, maintaining software health with updates demands that you use recent versions of any software and dependencies.

What dependencies must be satisfied for the application to run? ›

Build time dependencies must be present when an application runs in an environment. Collections can be resolved timely, depending on the collection time. The dependency that can not be resolved up to run time is run time dependency.

When should I update dependencies? ›

There are two major reasons for upgrading software dependencies regularly:
  1. The dependency is outdated. You use a very old version of a dependency. ...
  2. The dependency has security issues. Depending on how serious the issue is, you may need to upgrade as soon as possible to prevent attacks.
Aug 3, 2022

Which dependency is the most common in project management? ›

Finish to start dependency- This is the most common type of dependency in project management as well as real life.

What is the most common type of dependency between activities? ›

What is the most common type of a dependency between activities? The most common relationship is the Finish to Start relationship. It is pretty logical as a predecessor task A must be finished before successor task B can start.

Which type of dependency describes the relationship between two tasks within the same project? ›

Finish-to-start dependency

This dependency describes the relationship between two tasks or actions. The team must complete the initial task, or the predecessor task, before they can begin the next task.

When should you start using dependency? ›

A Start-to-Start (or SS) dependency means that a successor activity cannot begin before its predecessor has started. They do not however have to start at the same time. These dependencies are common within projects which require their tasks to run parallel to one another.

Which choice is a benefit of using dependency? ›

Advantages. A basic benefit of dependency injection is decreased coupling between classes and their dependencies. By removing a client's knowledge of how its dependencies are implemented, programs become more reusable, testable and maintainable.

What are the 4 types of activity relationships? ›

There are four possible activity relationships, which are defined in the Project Management Institute's "bible of project management" — The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®). The relationships are Finish-to-Start, Start-to-Start, Finish-to-Finish and Start-to-Finish.

What is the most popular scheduling technique? ›

Task List. The task list is the simplest project scheduling technique of all the techniques available. Documented in a spreadsheet or word processor is the list of all possible tasks involved in a project. This method is simple and the most popular of all methods.

How many types of task dependencies are there among tasks? ›

There are 4 types of dependency relationships. A task can have multiple successors or multiple predecessors.

How many functional dependencies are possible? ›

There are four types of functional dependency in DBMS - Trivial, Non-Trivial, Multivalued and Transitive functional dependency.


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