Capacity Planning: The Secret of Successful Projects

What is Capacity Planning?
Why aren’t schedules and timesheets sufficient?
Capacity planning is vital
Reason #1: You maximize utilization
Reason #2: Real-time data
Reason #3: Planning is easier
Reason #4: You can protect yourself and your team
Reason #5: Capacity Planning helps people organize their time

A project manager, who has requested anonymity for the purposes this article, was planning Phase 2 of her project not that long ago.
The project management team had a lot of work, and that was just her. She thought it was no problem. An admin resource from the PMO or a project coordinator would make a great addition to the team. She said, “I’ll ask,”
So she did. Her manager offered her a resource. She thought it was great. He wasn’t available for three more months. She said that I needed your help right away.
She met the PMO Manager, and another manager she knew who had staff interested in learning about project management. She said that she would be happy to train someone. They also came up with two additional resources. The managers said, “We’ll check.”
They did. They were very busy.
The problem was brought up at the next meeting of the management team. It had been a month since the last meeting. Because she cared about the project, the project manager continued working weekends and evenings to complete the work.
She created a project and resource plan and kept timesheets to justify the hours she spent on this project. She drew out what she wanted the extra resource for.
She then asked her manager for assistance again. He said that he understood what she was asking and that he supported her. I believe you can do it yourself.
She was tired of asking for additional resources on a project that was supposedly vital to the organization. She stopped asking. She quit after three more months of wasting her time, and discovered that the “available within 3 months” resource was actually assigned to another project.
This last bit is actually still not happening. She was grumbling fearfully when I spoke to her weeks ago, but she wasn’t at the quit point. But, I’ve mentored enough project managers under stress to know this is how it often ends.
The one thing that stood out to me in our conversation was this:
“If we had one resource pool, it wouldn’t take five managers to find out who is available to help and then turn up nothing.”
Capacity planning is therefore important.
What is Capacity Planning?
If your project plan were a baby and the payroll system a baby, it would become capacity planning.
Here’s a quick definition:
Capacity planning involves knowing both the demand for resource (the project plan) and the supply (who on the payroll).
I’m not being facetious – there is more to it than that. But capacity planning is a method of efficiently and easily determining who is available for project work at any given time.
It relies on a single resource pool that you can use to track people’s skills and availability, as well as other resources such rooms and equipment. It makes project management of human resources transparent.
Why aren’t schedules and timesheets sufficient?
While timesheets provide a historical view of your project, they don’t offer much value for what’s ahead.
Although your project schedule will tell you what tasks are due, it doesn’t often link to any resource tracking software. Even if your project management software has resource pool features such as Microsoft Project, I found them to be difficult to set up and maintain.
Resource Guru is a tool that makes capacity planning for projects easy. It bridges the gap between your plan, and the people who are working on it.
Capacity planning is vital
Here are five reasons you’ll wish you had capacity planning.