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Demand Management Tools 101

Demand Management Tools 101

For the PMO, saying “yes” to the hundreds of requests that flood their pipeline is not a long-term, scalable strategy. Sure, in the short-term, you may end up making a few people happy, but without proper project prioritization it will likely be challenging to manage that much incoming demand across the entire portfolio. Organizations often turn to demand management tools to support this process. But where do you begin? This blog highlights the basics – touching on some of the challenges you may already be experiencing and features to consider when searching for a tool. I will also share one of my favorite demand management customer stories featuring the University of Michigan. Let’s dive in.

What happens when demand isn’t managed?

When demand isn’t properly managed, it becomes a perfect storm of over-utilized and stressed-out resources. Even worse, you end up giving in and prioritizing ad-hoc requests for those who scream the loudest. Projects remain in limbo or are slow to progress, and people and priorities are reshuffled again and again – all resulting in poor project delivery and loss of credibility with stakeholders.

How can the right demand management tools help?

Leaders in the PMO need a scalable demand management tool that will not only help score and evaluate project requests but also help them evaluate cost, effort, and resources and capacity available to see projects to delivery. Look for a tool that offers scenario-planning capabilities that allows you to create and compare scenarios so you can make right trade-off decisions while taking all the variables into consideration. The result is a portfolio of projects that is achievable, adequately staffed, and delivers value to the business and its customers.

Here’s a list of basic features to consider when conducting your search for a demand management tool:

  1. Centralized demand management intake so stakeholders can easily request new projects and check the status of work
  2. The ability to score and rank to drive prioritization using objective, repeatable methods to quantify investment
  3. Top-down planning to understand and prioritize demand
  4. What-if analysis to manage the impact of change
  5. At a minimum, basic capabilities to capture the new ideas that will drive innovative projects into the pipeline

The Savvy PMO's Guide to Prioritization

A demand management success story

Let’s look at a great example of how this can work. In a quest for efficiency, the University of Michigan merged three central IT organizations. They quickly realized that to meet service delivery goals, their IT operations and internal processes would need to be redefined, implemented, and adopted. The university decided to restructure their demand management process to stop overpromising and under-delivering. They determined scoring criteria, and then centralized to find out how many projects were in progress, available capacity, and what new requests were in the pipeline. The steps taken meant they could optimize prioritization of the work being done, moving forward with strategic delivery. The initial results were impressive – approved projects were reduced by 75% and shifted to deliver toward the University’s strategic initiatives. They have a visible pipeline of demand along with reduced staff workload and improved performance. Balanced workloads and projects delivered on time – a win-win for everyone. It’s truly amazing how the right technology can improve and advance the business.

It is never easy to shift from “no” to “yes,” but with visibility into demand, resource and capacity, and optimized priorities, organizations can focus on the right work that delivers the most value.

Are you intrigued? To learn more, check out the first step to getting started with demand management and prioritization with The Savvy PMO’s Guide to Prioritization: Getting Started with Scoring.

How are you currently managing demand at your organization? Share by leaving a comment below.

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Elsa Dithmer
Written By

Elsa Dithmer graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in Spanish and Portuguese. She is a passionate and well-rounded marketing professional that always brings an energetic, creative, and anything-is-possible attitude to demand driving, nurturing, and retention marketing programs. Currently focused on programs for Innotas by Planview.