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Demand Management, Part II: Turning Concept into Practice

By: Darren Wilson

Intelligence (BI) and business analytics (BA) with key performance indicators (KPI) dashboard concept

This post is part 2 of our demand management series and features concepts and best practices from an award winning SEI engagement, as recognized by the Atlanta chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI).  

In last month’s Demand Management Blog Part 1, we discussed the importance of maximizing a company’s most important resource, its workforce.  Now that we have your attention, let’s explore how SEI can help you to turn demand and capacity planning into an organizational practice.


As with implementing any new process, a robust discovery phase should take place to help you understand key factors and metrics.  When it comes to Demand Management, there are several questions that should be asked during discovery:  Who are the key stakeholders and capacity owners?  How does this team currently manage demand?  How does management feel about the current project intake process and what are the initial areas of concern?  Once you can answer these questions, you should have an excellent understanding of team structure and “as-is” processes.  Armed with this knowledge, it’s much easier to baseline capacity and demand.


When it comes to capacity, gathering the team roster is the easy part.  To really make your information useful, you will need to begin computing true capacity (AKA advertised capacity).  True team capacity can be viewed as the available manpower with the desired skill set and the available number of hours in a day to deliver a certain amount of output.  Be sure and include holidays, weekends, and all non-working hours in this calculation.  Also, administrative time for meetings, etc. must be factored into the equation. Most resources should only be advertised for 6.5 or 7 hours each day.  Poor capacity planning leads to unrealistic commitments.  It is imperative to capture a true baseline in order to move forward on assessing demand.


Finding a team’s overall demand is not an easy process, and you’ll likely need to put on your detective hat to gather this data.  Many organizations make the mistake of only looking to Project Managers to gather project demand, but what if they are not scheduling tasks at the resource level?  If this is the case, you will need to look for demand data elsewhere.  Lessons learned from past clients indicate that project data can be found in many places, including various types of project management systems and software.  SharePoint sites at the PMO level have proven to be useful as well.  As for operational demand, we’ve found that ticketing and work order systems can be ideal locations to gather data.  Once you’ve gathered all project and operational data, the output should be a number that can easily be compared to team capacity.


Let’s assume that you’ve taken our advice and managed to baseline capacity, while gathering team demand.  Now what?  SEI has a well-documented history of helping clients put this data to good use.  A great way to utilize this new data is creating a capacity summary to explicitly illustrate team capacity vs team demand.  Before the team engages in new work, always check the capacity summary to see if capacity exists.  As your data matures, so does your confidence level and decision making ability.  Executives will now have greater insight into the realistic throughput of the workforce.  For sustainability, be sure and meet with capacity owners on a set schedule to keep the process and data integrity intact.

Caution: Don’t follow the failure of many organizations in making Demand Management a one-time event, turn your demand and capacity planning into a long term business solution!

Darren Wilson


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