Resource capacity planning best practice – tips and strategies you can adopt now

Resource capacity planning best practice

The fact is, you will always be asked to do more projects than you have resources for.

Which means resources must be optimally utilized and focused on the right projects. And you must be able to make the right calls about which projects you can do given the resources you have. The answer is resource capacity planning.

But getting started with a capacity planning process or improving what you already have can seem a little confusing.

In this article we explain a range of easy to implement techniques with proven success and look at how capacity planning software can help make things easier.

Better resource capacity planning starts here.

Ensure you capture all of your demand and overheads

A common mistake organizations make is to fail to account for all of their demand and overheads.

It is essential that your resource plans include all the work your resources are expected to work on. 

This means both currently approved and in-flight work and work in your pipeline.

Don’t get too detailed

The purpose of a capacity plan is to give the organization a heads up about its capability to deliver on existing work and take on new work.

It is not concerned with which individual resource is working on what project or task on which day.

And this is a common mistake.

For most organizations the capacity plan should be working at the resource role (skill) level and for each project record the resource roles needed by month.

Account for holidays, vacations and absence

When calculating the capacity of your resources don’t forget about absence time.

As it is impossible to predict months in advance what absence people will have, the easiest way to model this is using trends.

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Show me the money

In many organizations there could be different resources with the same role who could perform the same work.

What often differentiates them is the cost to the organization.

So you should be able to visualize your resource plan in terms of money to help you make sense of these options.

Allocate resources to the highest priority projects first

Wherever possible, resources should always be allocated to mandatory (i.e. regulatory / compliance) projects first.

Then in turn to the highest priority projects in the portfolio (continuing until you run out of projects or resources).

So it is essential that a prioritization technique is used alongside the capacity planning.

Prioritize project portfolio

Did you know? Prioritizing your projects in Kelloo is as simple as dragging and dropping. And you see the impact on your resource capacity instantly.

Shout about the benefits to all

The benefits of resource capacity planning impact all people in the project environment.

  • Better forecasting of resources means resources are less likely to be over worked or handed impossible deadlines.
  • Project managers are more likely to have the required levels of resource they need to deliver their projects.
  • Resource managers will have less headaches trying to juggle and allocate scarce resources to projects.
  • Executives can better align their strategic vision with the organizations ability to actually deliver it.

Incorporate capacity planning into the portfolio management process

Ideally capacity planning should be performed alongside your organization’s portfolio management as they feed information into each other.

If your organization does not operate a full PPM process, even just adopting basic principles such as a project approval process, basic prioritization criteria and regular monitoring of the portfolio health will help.

Kelloo combines resource management and portfolio management in a lightweight easy to use solution.

Capacity planning timeframe

It is important to set a realistic time frame for resource capacity planning.

Organizations would love to be able to have a crystal ball and forecast resource needs into the distant future.

However this is simply unachievable as most organizations work is too volatile and dynamic to allow this.

You need to strike a balance between a planning time frame that provides sufficient detail for the organization while not becoming too time consuming, inefficient and costly to maintain.

A typical resource plan covers the next 3 to 6 months (more typically 3 months). While a typical capacity plan covers the period to around 12 months out.

Let software do the heavy lifting

As easy as it appears to set up a resource planning spreadsheet, the downsides quickly exceed the upsides.

Resource planning is a collaborative process that involves the sharing of information and spreadsheets are not an ideal tool for this.

Even small organizations often have more than one person responsible for resource planning, which leads to separate spreadsheets per team or location and silos of information.

Finally resource planning spreadsheets necessitate repeating formulas per project and resource type.

It is too easy to make mistakes that are impossible to spot. It is far easier, safer and more cost effective to use a dedicated resource capacity planning software solution.

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