Using SpiraPlan for Demand Management

May 25th, 2022 by inflectra

We recently demonstrated SpiraPlan to a large, multinational life sciences manufacturing company. During the series of demonstrations and proof concepts, we configured SpiraPlan for a set of different use cases, including demand management, application portfolio management, vendor selection and management, change management, application decommissioning, configuration management, and supplier qualification. In this series of articles, we will be highlighting these different use cases and providing best practices and ideas for how to configure SpiraPlan. In this article we will be covering the topic of demand management.

Demand Management Overview

Demand management is the process an organization puts in place to internally collect new ideas, projects, and needs during the creation of a portfolio. Demand management is successful when the final output is useful to prioritize and select a valuable strategically aligned portfolio. The more the process is able to capture the real strategic commitment of the organization and merge it with the past ongoing activities, the more demand is a success factor in building the correct portfolio.[1]

When you are considering how to setup a demand management system and process within an ALM solution such as SpiraPlan, it is important to understand the key use cases that need to be supported:

  • Be able to configure workflows for the demand process of requesting new applications. Workflows need to include stakeholders such as business unit representatives, demand managers, portfolio managers, QA and IT employees, data privacy officers and other.
  • Be able to work on central work-lists for demands with standard functions for sorting, filtering, sending out email notifications for defined events.
    Automatically match application requests against existing application inventory.

In addition, a cohesive demand-management process needs to closely integrate with the following other business functions and systems:

Configuring SpiraPlan for Demand Management

Creating a Demand Management Project

In order to manage the requests for new products and applications, we usually recommend that customers setup a dedicated demand management product in SpiraPlan that will be used to track the requests for new applications (products) that will eventually (if approved) become their own new SpiraPlan product. So the first step will be to create a new SpiraPlan product called "Demand Management". It should be stored in an existing program and portfolio dedicated to the management of cross-portfolio activities such as demand management, vendor management, application decommissioning, etc.

Demand Management and Porfolio Projects

In this example, we have created a dedicated product template called "Demand Management and Portfolio Management" that will be used to manage the customizations and workflows associated with the demand management process. Viewing the product in the main navigation would look something like this:

Navigation showing programs and projects

Where Demand Management lives in the special program called "Portfolio Management". We will now describe the configuration that is recommended for this special SpiraPlan product.

Setting up Requirement Types

The first thing to do is create the different requirement types for the different types of new application that will be requested. In this example, we have simply added a single type called "Demand" and mapped it to the corresponding workflow for new software projects.

List of requirement types

You can have just one type of request called "Demand" and have a single workflow, or you can create multiple workflows for the different types of application being requested:

Demand Management Workflows

In this more complex example, we have two different workflows (software and hardware), which would allow us to have multiple requirement types:

Requirement types for multiple demand management types

The mapping can be one to many (many types can use the same workflows), so we could further categorize the software and hardware new application requests into more granular types.

Requirement types more granular for demand management

Setting up Components for Projects

Now that we have defined the different types of new request, we can further categorize the different new product requests by making use of the product Component field. In this we can define the primary different types of product that will need to be prioritized and planned. In this example, we defined the different types of new product as: hardware, software (GxP), software (non-GxP) and wetware. This example was taken from a life sciences case study where we had to deal with regulated (GxP) and non-regulated software applications as well as medical devices (hardware) and wetware (pharmaceuticals).

Product Components

Depending on the industry you are working, you will have different ways of categorizing your new product demands.

Setting up the Custom Properties

The next thing to do is to configure all of the different attributes you will need for categorizing and measuring the different new product ideas and requests that are being compared.

Product Requirement Custom Properties

In this example we have added four free text custom properties to capture the following key information:

  • Project Goals - the key goals and objectives of the new system or application being considered
  • Project Boundaries - the main constraints and restraints on this new application
  • Time Targets - an overview of the desired schedule and any external deadlines
  • Business Value - a description of the business value that this new application or system will bring

For these keys of attribute, you will typically want to define them as a rich text field:

Rich text custom properties

In addition to these fields, you may also want to add:

  • Numeric fields to capture the budget, costing or other financial data
  • List fields to capture attributes that you pick from a dropdown list:
    • Complexity rating - high, medium, low
    • Methodology - agile, waterfall, hybrid
    • etc.

Configuring the Demand Management Workflows

The last step of configuring the demand management product in SpiraPlan is to customize and configure the workflows for the different types of new product request that you are supporting:

Sample workflow

The decision on how many workflows to have depends largely on your organizations review and approval process. If each of the different types of new product request follow the same approval process, then they can all share the same common workflow, but if that approval process differs between types, then you'll need to clone the workflow and customize to match each approach process.

Using SpiraPlan for Demand Management

Now that we have setup the dedicated demand management product, we can now use this to begin tracking the new product requests as they come in. They will be logged directly into the requirements module of SpiraPlan as a new Demand. Using the sortable grid view, we can easily view the different columns (name, priority, status, type, component, business value, goals, boundaries) to be able to filter and sort the new requests.

List of new project demands

In addition, we can use the release Gantt chart view to create a major release for each year and phases for each of the quarters in the year. This will allow us to easily track the planned new applications and activities by quarter:

Quarterly Releases in Gantt View

In addition to the grid and Gantt views, you can also easily display an agile board view of the new products being requested:

Demand Items Grouped by Component

This provides a visual way to see the requested applications, and drag and drop them between the different components and priorities:

Demand Items Grouped by Priority

Once you have ranked and prioritized the incoming demands, you can then use the release view of the planning board to assign the applications from the portfolio backlog into the different quarters. This lets you plan the prioritizes for each of the upcoming quarters in the current (and future) investment years.

Demand Items Grouped by Sprint

These views making creating, managing and visualizing the flow of new product requests easy and simple to use. However there are additional features available to further orchestrate your demand management process.

Approvals and Sign-Off

The workflow feature in SpiraPlan lets you easily manage the review and approval of the new application requests. You can simply use the workflow operations dropdown to transition the request from one status to the next:

Project Waiting Approval

You may want to attach documents or other information to the new application request. That is done through the Attachments tab of the item. However those documents are centrally managed and versioned within the SpiraPlan document management system for your convenience:

Process Document attached to a Project

In addition, you can add comments or other information during the review and approval process to capture the feedback and ideas in real-time:

Comments on a new product request

The comments and feedback will be emailed out to anyone configured to receive the notification event or anyone who has explicitly subscribed to the item in question.

Integrating Risks

One other key aspect related to demand management is the need to assess any risks associated with the proposed new initiatives and make sure that we have a place to capture, assess and evaluate the risks, which will inform the demand managers on the relative risk rating of each of the proposed products in a given quarter or year.

In SpiraPlan, you can easily create a risk register and link it to the different new product requests:

Risks associated with a new request

Instantiating an Approved Project

Once the new application request has been approved and formally planned, you can now transition this request into a new SpiraPlan product using the Administration > Add Products screen:

Creating a new Project

You will be able too choose either an existing product template or create a new bespoke one, depending on whether this new product will use an existing development methodology or a new one. In addition, you will be able to group this approved new product under the appropriate SpiraPlan program and portfolio so that it can be managed.

Managing Programs and Portfolios of Projects

Once you have created the new approved product, it will be available in the enterprise, portfolio and program dashboards within SpiraPlan. For example, if you look at the schedule widget on the dashboard:

Timeline / Roadmap View of Portfolio

The new product will appear in the timeline, nested under its appropriate program and portfolio. As the product is defined and refined to have its own release schedule and cadence, those releases will now appear in the timeline along with the % complete shading, let you know the progress of the product. At this point, we are no longer in the demand management phase of this new idea, but instead into program and portfolio management.

demand management project management program management portfolio management

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