“I want SharePoint”. “We need content management”. “We want to buy product xyz”. Business folks can be pretty demanding and specific in their requests from IT. Hey, if the business says they need something who are we to question them? A client of mine recently had a deluge of these requests with few specifics about why the request was important. They needed to impress on the business the importance of providing enough information to build a good business case for the investment. A proper demand management process requires a conversation with the business and IT to take place for several reasons:
- Prioritization. Demand vastly outstrips supply, so without a good understanding of the pain points and how they are disrupting business, the project can’t be properly prioritized.
- Determining net benefit. Without understanding more about what the project will do, IT can’t estimate the benefits and may not be able to estimate the costs. Both of those go into the net benefit which is needed to make a decision.
- Verifying if there might be a better alternative. It’s IT’s job to know all sorts of technologies to pick from, so there may actually be a better option for solving the business problem. It could be another technology or maybe even just a process fix, but IT can’t tell if the original request is too vague.
- BS detector. Let’s face it – airline magazine syndrome hits even bright executives. Part of IT’s job is to act as a good steward of the IT budget and make sure there are good reasons beyond a competitor using it or it sounding cool. (By the way, it was recently pointed out to me that the proverbial “airline magazines” never write about this kind of stuff – it’s just a phrase that means reading a short, glowing summary in a popularly accessible form).
- The need for a business case that can be carried through build and metrics. The more detail is given around why the technology is needed, the more ability there will be to pre-empt piddly questions as the app is being built since IT will be able to infer direction from their knowledge of the goals. And when it comes to measurements, they will be much easier when a good business case states its expectations in detail.
- Governance. IT needs to make sure the requestor actually has the authority to ask. Perhaps security or marketing requirements prevent the request once its usage is known. Or perhaps higher level signoff is needed.
Each request seems important and clear to the requestor, but when seen in the context of all the requests IT receives it hopefully makes sense that a deeper conversation needs to take place.
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