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Demand Management, Part I: Novel Concept or Flash in the Pan?

By: Darren Wilson

Group of people in a meeting

This post is part 1 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).

Ask yourself the following about how your organization manages human capital:  Do you maximize the value of your workforce?  Do you meticulously manage the project intake process?  If so, as the organization grows, are you consistently able to measure the throughput of a growing and dispersed workforce?  If you answered no to any of these questions, there’s a really good chance your organization could benefit from demand and capacity planning.

What is Demand Management?

At its core, Demand Management is a planning methodology used to manage and forecast the demand of products and services.  Specifically within an IT organization, Demand Management should define the economy around the system development lifecycle resources, including business analysts, project managers, iteration managers, developers, and testers.  The end goal of Demand Management should be to provide management with a consistent, reliable source for determining priorities and commitments to which the organization can deliver.  Are you ready to stop drinking from the fire hose?

Can it be Implemented Successfully?

SEI recently partnered with a high profile client in Atlanta to roll out demand and capacity planning to the technology organization.  From inception, it was obvious that the client had an extensive pool of software development professionals from which to draw on, but needed help figuring out how to effectively spread out work (demand) amongst this workforce.  Projects were being approved with very little thought given to available capacity and workforce capability.  Deadlines were being missed and individuals were working substantial overtime, causing product quality to suffer.  It was time to make a change, and with SEI’s help, this organization quickly become a torchbearer in the Demand Management space!

Fast forward 18 months to current state and examples abound supporting the success of this organization’s transformation.  A Demand Management Office (DMO) is now in place and managing a rigorous process to ensure human capital is properly managed and deployed.  These resources work with project managers and capacity owners on a weekly basis to determine whether teams can deliver work by the businesses’ requested delivery dates.  If a team is overcommitted and the project delivery date cannot be achieved, alternate scenarios are created to identify competing projects. DMO resources then work with the Executive Pipeline Review board to determine which project(s) should take priority.  The benefactors of this process include the project managers and capacity owners, who now have realistic resource commitments.  At a higher level, IT executives now have greater visibility into workforce potential, leading to more realistic commitments to the business.  As the DMO matures, SEI continues to work with full time employees to ensure a gold standard of service.

Maximizing a company’s most important resource, its workforce, is the primary determinant of organizational success.   Wondering how to implement this practice at your organization?  Stay tuned for Demand Management Blog Part 2:  Turning Concept into Practice.

Darren Wilson


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