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IT Demand Management: Categories of Work

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This is part 2 in my 3 part series on IT Demand Management. Part 1 introduced a simple 4 phase Demand Management process. In this post we look at categories of demand and how they can help you scale your demand management process.

Categories of Demand

Categories of demand are used to scale the process and identify the specific activities needed to explore, pursue and plan the work.

Standard categories of demand include:

  • Projects – large efforts needed to meet strategic goals.
  • Enhancements – changes or updates to existing systems.
  • Support – work to run existing systems. Support work is divided into 2 categories: operational requests and service requests.
    • Operational requests are work items like applying patches to the OS or installing upgrades to existing systems.
    • Service requests are requests for work like resetting a password, running a batch job or fixing an inoperable laptop.

Every organization should identify their demand categories when planning their demand management process.

Planned vs Unplanned Work

Demand can represent planned or unplanned work

Planned work is work that comes in advance or is anticipated, such as during an annual planning exercise.

Unplanned work is work that comes in at any time with little or no notice. Service requests, bugs and even some enhancements can be unplanned. Unplanned does not always mean “unexpected.”

Planned and unplanned work definitions help identify where work is coming from and how quickly a response to it is expected.

Scaling Demand Management by Category

Michael Gentle in IT Success! Towards a New Model for Information Technology uses a funnel to illustrate an ideal demand management process. Sales funnels represent the journey that customers go through to make a purchase. Opportunities start as leads. The lead goes step-by-step through activities in the funnel which result in winning or losing the sale. Not everything that enters the funnel leaves the funnel.

IT demand works much the same way. Not every proposal for work that enters your demand funnel will result in an approved work request. And that’s the whole point of this process!

Below is an imagined demand funnel that layers categories of demand over the activities and decision points to show how work might flow through a demand management process. Some categories need more evaluation and decisions but others need just a little decision-making.

Diagram borrowed from Michael Gentle.

In the last post in this series, I’ll describe the roles that support this demand management framework.

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