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Available capacity / week
Capacity planning is the process of calculating the amount of resources you need to meet demand before starting a project. Whether you’re allocating staff, time, or some other resource critical to the success of a project, capacity planning is a secret weapon that’ll help you excel in balancing the challenges of finding and allocating these resources.
Learn all you need to know about capacity planning and how to create a comprehensive team capacity plan using Coda.
👉 Get started with this capacity planning template.
What is capacity planning?
Capacity planning is the process of determining whether you have the resources, or capacity, to complete a project.
Capacity planning is different from , as it goes beyond identifying resources and includes the allocation those resources to tasks.
For instance, if you manage a writing agency, your capacity planning would involve determining whether your agency has enough writers based on their availability and skill set. Then, based on the data, you’d make the following decisions:
If you don’t have enough writers, can you cancel future projects? Can you hire writers to assist with the workload? If hiring full-time writers will be too costly, could you decide to hire freelancers to help?
Why is capacity planning important for project managers?
Here are some of the reasons project managers use capacity planning:
Provides a clearer overview of available resources
Allocating resources sets you up for success in your projects. When you lay out everything you need in a capacity planning template, you can see how your resources—budget, staff, projects, etc.—connect. With this information at your fingertips, you can make decisions based on data.
Maximizes project success
Capacity planning templates help project managers and Scrum masters make data-driven forecasts and decisions to increase a project's chances of success. With capacity planning providing all necessary real-time metrics, managers will not be caught off-guard when challenges occur in a project lifecycle.
Offers better team organization and workload distribution
Reviewing the capacity of a project allows managers to organize their project teams and better distribute the workload.
With a proper team resource capacity planner, managers can ensure that resources, like employees, are allocated on a “best fit” basis instead of an “it’s what’s available” basis. Capacity planning also helps project managers know when to inform and sponsors of when to make resources available.
Assists in managing skills inventory
A skills inventory is a record of the skills of each member of a workforce. It’s useful for projects that require technical prowess.
For a writing agency, for instance, you can list the skills of each team member as follows:
Niche; SaaS, fashion, product reviews, and so on
When it’s time to allocate resources, you can easily identify whether a team member has the necessary skills to carry out the task.
Additionally, a skills inventory makes it easy to identify skill shortages. You don’t have to start a project before you realize that nobody on your team knows how to write a press release, for example.
With a capacity plan, you can know whether to
Recruit temporary or permanent resources to the team that has the skills needed. Or train existing team members in the new skill
Capacity planning helps managers fight burnout and . How?
The planning process gives managers a view into the availability and schedules of their resources. Thus, they can better handle resource utilization and avoid assigning the wrong tasks to employees.
Helps monitor costs
Capacity planning considers all resources needed to complete a project, including facilities, budgets, supplies, workforce, and so on. It helps managers to carefully as a whole.
With capacity planning, you can project capacity needs and accurately budget for any changes you foresee. Furthermore, capacity planning allows you to optimize projects in terms of costs.
For instance, let’s say you have a new project from a client that requires a graphic designer. You have a team of graphic designers who can do the job—however, some are better than others and are more expensive to put on the job.
Sam is available to take on the job. While he’s a rock star, he’s one of your most expensive resources. On the other hand, you have Bob, who can also do an excellent job—but isn’t as expensive. The only problem is that he’s not available at the right time, but will be in a month.
Using capacity planning, you can determine whether it’s best to delay the start of the project by a month to reduce the cost by using Sam instead of Bob. While you might decide to still go with Sam, capacity planning makes it possible to have the necessary information needed to make the best decision.
Whether you’re a manufacturing firm, legal firm, or content agency, a capacity plan helps you to ensure availability.
After carrying out this process, you’ll know whether you have the availability to take on new projects or clients. Then, with a capacity planning template, you can make a data-driven decision on whether to hire more people or allocate more resources.
A bottleneck is a work stage within the project lifecycle that holds up subsequent tasks. It’s the worst nightmare for most project managers because it can slow or stop the project.
Bottlenecks are a result of any of the following:
Old software, applications, and infrastructure Limited performance of individuals Poor communication between teams Failure to reassign tasks to available people
A capacity plan arms you with just what you need to tackle bottlenecks heads-on. It makes it possible to spot the bottleneck early on and see where problems might arise in order to create a plan to prevent them.
Capacity planning strategies
There are three capacity planning strategies project managers use:
Each of these strategies has advantages and pitfalls.
Lag capacity planning strategy
In lag strategy, resources are acquired to meet the true demand. Here, managers responded to an actual increase in demand before adding more capacity.
Using the writing agency as an example, a lag strategy would mean the current number of writers available have the skills and resources to handle the current workload. There aren’t more writers than necessary to manage an existing project.
Advantage of lag capacity planning
It’s a conservative strategy that reduces the risk of acquiring resources that you don’t need.
Disadvantage of lag capacity planning
It runs the risk of causing a lag in the delivery of goods or services if there’s an increase in demand.
Lead capacity planning strategy
This strategy involves an investment in more capacity than is currently required. Unlike the conservative lag capacity planning strategy, lead capacity planning is aggressive. Here, managers plan to increase capacity in advance before an increase in demand.
This strategy is often used in industries where competitors are susceptible to inventory shortages.
Advantage of lead capacity planning strategy
If you have a sudden increase in demand, you can take on the work and keep customers happy.
Disadvantage of lead capacity planning strategy
If there’s no increase in demand, you’ll take a loss due to under utilized resources.
Match capacity planning strategy
This strategy lies between the extremes of lead and lag strategies. With this strategy, you keep an eye on fluctuating conditions and adjust your capacity accordingly.
Advantages of match capacity planning strategy
You’re acquiring resources you’ll actually use It’s more risk-averse than other capacity planning strategies
👉 Get started with this capacity planning template.
After you copy this template, you can use this free capacity planning template for your team’s capacity and resource planning needs. Add your projects and available capacity to see if you have enough resources to staff your projects.
How to create a capacity plan with Coda's capacity planning template
Step 1: Add projects
On the page, you’ll see a green Add Project button. Clicking this adds a new row to the table where you can define the Project Name, Start Date, End Date, and Capacity required (hours) /week) for you projects. If you want to make this capacity planning template more detailed (showing tasks or work breakdown structure), you can easily change this table to list tasks instead of projects (see this which shows examples of columns you might add for tasks).
Step 2: List available resources (human resources)
After you share this template with your teammates, you’ll be able to select their name in the table. This list should be all the available internal and external human resources available to work on projects. For each row, add each resource’s Available capacity/week and Working hours/week and the Capacity/week will automatically calculate.
Step 3: Track capacity and project timeline
Once you have entered in your projects and available resources and their associated capacity, you can start doing capacity planning for your projects. At the top of the page, you’ll see high-level stats on the required capacity for your projects and the available capacity (human resources). At this point, you can decide to add or remove available resources to the table to meet the capacity needs and demands of your projects.
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