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Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Domains – Part II (#2 in the series Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Domains)
By Demian Entrekin

Okay, so I’m digging in a bit deeper on the question of Supply/Demand issues, and some more questions are popping up. In fact, I may raise more questions than answers, but it’s a start. In the previous article, PPM Domains I described as follows:

Supply/Demand Management: In the past we have called this need ‘demand containment.’ In short, some organizations are struggling with modulating the constant flow of inbound demand on the portfolio and the resources. All project organizations struggle with this challenge, and IT departments in particular struggle with inbound demand because they have many other operational duties, such as systems management and application portfolio management. If a portfolio owner cannot effectively regulate the flow of inbound demand, the forward progress can become severely degraded by the day to day fire fighting otherwise known as supply/demand management.

Balancing supply and demand can be tricky. First of all, it’s important to realize that the “supply” we’re talking about is the supply of available human time to do good work. Second, we then realize that the “demand” is the tide of work that is coming at that group of human beings. How do we keep that flow balanced? What work items can wait? What must happen right now? What can happen next month?

But perhaps the most important issue boils down to prioritization. Once again, that word makes its presence felt in the PPM realm. The question we always ask ourselves is, “Are we working on the right things and are we doing them well?” And if you want to be able to take on more of the right things, then you are probably going to have to increase your available supply of productive resources.

If you have no room to increase your available resources, you will most likely have to work on two things:

  1. make the teams you have more effective and more productive, probably through process improvements and team adjustments;
  2. go back to your “list of demands” and figure out how to zero in on the items that will add the most value.

There are other things you can do to adjust your demand/supply gaps. You can put some medium priority items on hold to free up resources. You can adjust the scope of certain deliverables in order to free up resources. You can better leverage your team leaders and make them more like consultants and less like individual contributors.

But what if the list of demands is weak to begin with? What if you are plugging away at your list and even when you’ve done them all, the stake holders will still say, “So what?” Now you have an even bigger problem. This is where you may be forced to step back and reassess your entire situation. Where are these “demands” coming from? How can you shake up the game to get a better list of demands?

Demian is the CTO of Innotas. As founder and CEO, Entrekin oversaw marketing, product development, sales and services for the company. Today, he focuses on strategic product direction. Prior to Innotas, Entrekin co-founded Convoy Corporation and was Chief Architect of its initial products. In that role, Entrekin helped the company lead the middleware market with an annual growth rate of 670 percent and played an instrumental role in Convoy’s subsequent acquisition by New Era Networks in 1999. A recognized thought leader in Project Portfolio Management, Entrekin has published numerous papers on PPM and his blog (PPM Today) explores current issues related to successful PPM implementation. During his 18 year career, Demian has assumed leadership roles as a consultant and as an entrepreneur, delivering commercial and corporate database applications. Demian holds a B.A. in English from UCLA and an M.A. in English from San Francisco State University.

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