Azure DevOps allows you to link work items and other objects, using the predecessor and successor link type to define and track dependencies.

That is great! But, after teams have created a few dozen or even hundreds of dependencies it’s important to visualize them. We decided to give the free Dependency Tracker a try.

As shown below, we have created a backlog to create a foundation, a frame, and a roof to build a new family home. Both the frame and roof are dependent on the foundation (predecessor) and the roof is dependent on the frame (predecessor), which amount to three 3 dependencies.  

Backlog with three invisible predecessor-successor dependencies

The dependency tracker gives us a consuming dependencies view that shows the number of dependencies, aggregated by state, and a hierarchical list of predecessors and successors, per team.

Consumer Dependencies View in the Dependency Tracker

When we switch to the Risk Graph, we get the first glimpse of a visual dependency graph.

Risk Graph View in the Dependency Tracker

Great! But let us break the dependency chain, for example start work on the roof before the frame (predecessor) is completed.

Why are we building the roof (predecessor) before we have a structural frame (successor)?

Hmm, unfortunately there appears to be no warning.

No blinking red lights or other warning to warn us of the break in dependencies

It is therefore important to continue to regularly discuss and track dependencies within a team or between teams, for example during daily scrums and scrum of scrum ceremonies.

Should the Delivery Plan and Feature Timeline extensions and the Azure boards views help us visualize dependencies? Should they and the dependency tracker raise a warning when we break a dependency as above?

Please share your thoughts!