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Management Strategies Series - Volume 1: Dealing with Unplanned Demand in Your Quality Ecosystem

Demand related to resource management is a perpetually evolving piece of our profession. There is a constant re-prioritization of efforts that can have profound impact on our business and bottom line. Though that may seem obvious at face-value, it is important to understand the more granular details that factor into our management strategies.

Here, we take a closer look at guidelines to identify those areas, and proactive steps you can take to mitigate the effects of unplanned project demands.

IT Departments specifically and their leadership teams must develop strategic responses to address and counteract spikes in both planned and unplanned demand. Whether related to maintenance and enhancement of their systems, it can have significant impact on the overall equilibrium of resources.

It’s a harsh reality, but often departments and organizations can’t gauge the amount of planned versus unplanned demand they are going to face. When there is an increase of unplanned demand it adversely impacts internal resources, leading to unmet IT deliverables, or even worse, deliverables of low or inferior quality. This can be realized both from a service level and outcome perspective. If not addressed properly, this volatility can seriously affect an IT department or business function’s ability to effectively manage their applications.

Even in cases where demand is measurable from the outset, it can leave gaps or holes in other areas that then become a challenge. With organizations striving to become more process-efficient, internal employees can become overwhelmed by their day-to-day priorities, often having to juggle extra work that comes when new projects or implementations are introduced. In these scenarios, an organization's internal resources may already be working at full-speed and full-capacity. Adding additional responsibilities related to these new projects will have inevitable impact on performance and quality of work. As the saying goes, “Something’s gotta give…”

Below is an overview of  some solutions and key considerations for balancing the existing commitments, and the day-to-day, with those that arise as part of either new or unplanned demand. Lookout for further detail on how implement the following action plan, as it applies to your organization, in future streamINSIGHTS posts!

Acknowledgement: The first step is to identify and acknowledge this challenge. The sooner step one is accepted, the sooner an action plan can be formed. Ultimately, The better positioned your resources are to respond proactively can have profound effect on resource management, and in turn, your budget and profitability.

Be Proactive: To prevent unplanned demand from cannibalizing your productivity, look at the following key areas for action, before they become a necessary reaction.

  • Communication: Communication is the key. Socializing the change and disruptions that are on the horizon is extremely important for an organization at any scale. As a strong leader, sharing your insight, information, and most important priorities is key to ensuring the success of your team’s endeavors. Often, aligning you and your management’s priorities on a continuous basis is necessary, as priorities may shift through the course of any annual project roadmap.
  • Collaboration: Build a collaborative and integrated network of internal employees and resources from a professional services partner to mitigate the adverse effects of unplanned demand management. When sourcing your team externally, define the need for a core team that will be available throughout the journey of your program, not just for one specific project. This enables and empowers them to get a better sense of your processes, systems and organizational landscape.
  • Prioritization: Prioritize and identify the talent that exists internally and leverage external subject matter experts through a trusted, experienced professional services partner to complement and fill in gaps. Align the specific skills and experience of your internal resources to projects or project areas where you know they will be most successful. Complement this with experienced and skilled external resources to fill the appropriate gaps.
  • Resource Planning: Control the evolution of unplanned demand by setting up a resource planning governance committee. Contingency plans should be developed for the most common, demand-oriented challenges your business has faced. This preparation will allow for swift execution should any issues arise.

In summary, define an external consulting partner or network of partners that can help bridge the gap between your inevitable planned and unplanned project needs. Find a true partner that revels in the details and possesses both the expertise and passion that are crucial to helping your business navigate these challenges.