A Demand Manager, also known as IT Demand Manager, is a professional working as a link between ICT and the other business functions of a company. While there are serveral different interpretation of the role that gives the DM more or less responsabilities, the main task that a Demand manager has is to act as a catalyst and help the communication flow between the two parties.
The main problem is that the actors of this communication process are focused on very different objectives. The business is more concerned to the what, the end result. Business users reason in terms of performing their tasks in a more effective and quick ways or of being able to to things that they were no allowed to do before. On the other side IT is usually focused on the how this objective will be reach. Which application, with which costs, which infrustructure, which performance. In addition to this the parties involved in the process usually know very little of the daily job of their counterpart. A guy from finance would most probably be very well educated on how to produced a consolidated balance sheet, but know nothing of how to configure or install the system that enables him to this; while on the other end and IT expert might know exactly the computational capabilites of the server of which the appliation is running, but nothing about a consolidated balance sheet.
The DM main goal is to bridge the gap between the business and the technical domain acting as a translator between the two. Demand Managers usually have worked both in ICT, or ICT related functions, and in most cases have also taken on a business role previously in their carrier. They are able to effectively collect business needs and to translate them into undestandable, self explaning and measurable user requirements that can be used by ICT to correctly estimate, plan and execute a project.
DMs are also responsible of transforming business needs into projects and to manage the project portfolio, interacting with the main business stakeholders in order to make sure that the projects to be started can be supported by the organization and that the require budget and resources can be allocated to them. Again here the DM has another very delicate task to perform since it needs to mediate with both business and IT and priorities projects that have conflicting schedules and/or resources.
As and extention of this concept the Demand Manager might also participate to relevant ICT project started to provide the business with new functionalities; acting as coaches and a support to the project manager and verifying that the company quality standard and best practices are implemented during its execution. The DM is usually also in charge of verifying that all the documentation foreseen for the project has been finalized and is the one collecting the lessons learned from the project so that other initiatives could benefit of what has been done before.
In this digital era the Demand Manager role becomes even more important now that it’s basically impossible to run a successful system with the support of a proper layer of IT tools and applications.
There are many other aspects in the work that a DM performs on a daily basis but before delwing into them in other articles, it was important to provide a general and comprehensive defintion considering that there’s currently very few material available answering to the question: what is a Demand Manager?