Capacity planning in agile
When looking at how capacity planning works in an agile environment there are two different aspects to consider.
- Sprint capacity planning
- Resource capacity planning
Even though they are different processes with different aims and outcomes, unfortunately they are often muddled up.
So let us kick off with an explanation of each.
What is sprint capacity planning?
Agile work is normally split into sprints which are short time boxed periods of work. Sprint capacity planning is used to plan the amount of work the team can try to tackle in the sprint.
It calculates a capacity for the sprint based on the agile team’s availability and the length of the sprint.
So for example, if you had a team of 5 people, each with 30 hours available per week. Over a one week sprint the team’s capacity is 150 hours. So you should be able to allocate around 150 hours of work to the sprint team.
Here is an article that explains the sprint capacity planning process in more detail.
What is agile resource capacity planning?
Resource capacity planning takes a longer range view of your work. It is used to ensure you have enough resources with the right skills to work on your projects and sprints.
Capacity planning is used to forecast the future resource needs of your organization, work out how many projects you can take on and formulate hiring plans to ensure you have enough people.
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You still need to forecast and plan people in agile environments
If you run agile projects and think resource capacity planning and forecasting does not apply to you, you are wrong.
And here is why.
Organizations have a reasonably fixed amount of people (their supply).
However they will have an almost unlimited amount of things they want to do (their demand).
And do you know what?
The demands on your resources will almost certainly exceed their supply.
So organizations are faced with difficult decisions. What projects and work should they do and what should be put on hold or pushed into the future?
And these decisions need to be made however you choose to run your projects.
This is what capacity planning gives you – a way to evaluate different selections of projects, resource hiring levels and resource allocation plans until you find something that works for you.
Agile capacity planning process
Capacity planning for agile projects is very similar to capacity planning waterfall projects:
- You compare your demand to your supply.
- Then identify any resource shortfalls.
- Adjust priorities, time scales, project timings and resource levels to balance your plan.
Here is a great resource for a deeper dive into resource capacity planning and forecasting for agile projects.