What is Resource Capacity Planning?

Learn what resource capacity planning is and how it can help your team

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Resource capacity planning is the process of defining the amount of work that is able to be done by resources at a company, determining the tasks and projects that can be completed by said resources, and matching work to be done with available resources to meet current and future demands.

Being able to understand and make detailed plans regarding current and future available capacity allows a company to make the most of their resources and billable hours.

Here, we will review how you can effectively execute capacity planning, improve project management through capacity planning, use skill matching in your business, and better understand resource demand. When combined with insights regarding how capacity planning changes for each industry, your business can be equipped for greater success as soon as possible.

What is an example of resource capacity planning?

Resource capacity requires an in-depth understanding of resource capabilities, the demands of each task executed by a business, realistic timelines for projects, and an effective resource strategy. But when done right, it can have major positive benefits for a business. For example, a business with a team of five employees working 40 hours per week will use capacity planning to define their total amount of average billable hours, match these team members to projects, and plan out a timeline of tasks to define and hit a deadline.

Step 1: Gather Data on Current Demand

Review your in-progress projects, backlog, and upcoming project pipeline to measure your current demand and the amount of time being demanded from your company.

Step 2: Analyze Current Capacity

Determine how many billable hours per week, tasks per resource, and hours per project are currently possible at your organization to measure maximum current capacity.

Step 3: Forecast Future Demand

Use pipeline, in-process sales deals, and market trends to determine your future demand, which will reveal if an increase in capacity will be needed.

Step 4: Improve Individual Resource Capacity

Take steps to improve capacity either by cutting down on non-billable time, hiring more full-time resources, or contracting more freelance workers.

What is resource capacity planning in project management?

Resource capacity planning plays a critical role in successful project management strategies. By being able to see how much work each resource can currently take on, what tasks are right for their unique skills, and when they will have available time to be assigned to a new task, project managers can correctly map out the timeline for a project and ensure that the resources they need will be available.

How do you calculate resource capacity?

Resource capacity needs to be calculated to provide managers with a better understanding of their team’s capabilities, which can then be used for project planning. Use the following formula to calculate resource capacity.

Use the following formula to calculate resource capacity:
  • Multiply the number of workdays in the period you are measuring, such as a week or month, by eight to determine the total number of work hours in the period.
  • Subtract the amount of time you have allocated for team meetings to determine your net work hours.
  • Determine the number of applicable team members for this time period, subtract time off for each person from the net work hours and multiply the result by availability to get individual capacity for each resource.
  • Combine each resource’s individual capacity to determine the total amount of hours for your team capacity.

What makes an accurate estimation model?

An accurate estimation model should provide details on the types of work involved in the project lifecycle and the specific skills needed to complete each of them. This will help managers understand who should be assigned to various tasks and will also break the project down into multiple phases, which will help an organization better control project margins and help track time throughout the project lifecycle for accurate billing.

Is there software to support resource capacity planning?

Yes! Resource management software is available today that supports detailed resource capacity planning by creating a skills database, managing resource time, and matching resources with the correct tasks that make up a project. Today’s most effective resource capacity planning solutions provide organizations with accurate calculations that help make the most of each team member and keep utilization rates much higher than would be possible otherwise.

What is skill matching?

Effective capacity planning uses skill matching to make the most of available resources. Skill matching uses a database that compiles and ranks resource skills with a detailed assessment for each team member associated with a company. These insights help managers quickly understand individual and company-wide strengths and abilities so they can ensure the success of a project.

Skill matching helps a company understand the abilities currently provided by their resources, as well as what resources may need to be brought in to provide a greater depth of skills through either full time hiring or contract work. The major benefit of skill matching is that managers that more fully understand the skills of each team member can match their people to the best potential projects based on talents and interests for a more predictable project outcome.

For example, a project manager that has a skill matching database while working on a video project can quickly view which resources have applicable videography and video editing skills, while also seeing their current and future availability. Matching the right skills while also having detailed insights into capacity can ensure that a project is given a realistic timeline and supplied with the best possible resources.

Does resource capacity planning change by industry?

Yes! Every industry has its own unique resource skills and client demands, meaning that tasks will take different lengths of time, projects will have their own unique scopes, and capacity planning will need to take these different factors into account to find success.

Agency Resource Capacity Planning

Agency resource capacity planning has a unique challenge that differentiates it from other industries: balancing projects and demands across a wide variety of clients. Oftentimes, agencies will need to balance multiple projects from several different clients at the same time, each with their own timelines, unique expectations, and resource demands. These separate clients do not know about each other and what other projects may be happening. Managers at an agency will need to keep each client satisfied and keep each resource smoothly moving between different projects, each with their own schedule demands and needed skills.

IT Resource Capacity Planning

Both internal and standalone IT services organizations have to balance detailed resource skills with a constant flow of projects that demand their attention. In addition, these projects can have a wide variety in scope, ranging from small scale computer service to network-wide configurations. Successful IT resource capacity planning will take each team member’s unique skills into account and effectively match them with project demands to keep utilization rates high and projects on schedule.

Consulting Resource Capacity Planning

Success in the consulting services industry depends on creating meaningful relationships with clients and understanding their unique needs in depth. Through consulting resource capacity planning, managers can better synchronize resource assignments so that each consultant can form and maintain a relationship with a client throughout a long-term project. Doing so establishes trust and improves project insights, which would otherwise be negatively affected by continually swapping team members for a client’s various projects.

Healthcare Resource Capacity Planning

Effective healthcare resource capacity planning takes the many different medical staff skills needed to provide effective care for a patient and equips them with critical knowledge of a patient’s medical history and specific current needs. Juggling these specific demands throughout a workday filled with many different patients requires detailed, strong capacity planning to provide effective, time-sensitive care.

How does specialization affect resource capacity planning?

Resource specialization is becoming a more critical element of successful resource management than ever before. Today, clients expect even more specialized services, which require unique skills from team members that may not always be needed and may not be readily available. Effective resource capacity planning will need to use a skills database to keep track of which team members have these specialized skills so that they can be put to use whenever necessary.

In addition, capacity planning will need to take contract workers into account when accessing specialized skills, as full-time resources may not have these capabilities. With these more rare skills in shorter supply, capacity planning will also need to take availability into account, as specialized skills may not always be available. Having a robust resource capacity planning solution in place that keeps these skills accounted for and at the ready will help today’s services organizations succeed in the era of specialization.

How does resource capacity planning affect utilization?

Strong resource utilization rates depend on the ability to move a team member from task to task and through projects with as little unnecessary downtime as possible. Successful resource capacity planning makes this possible and, by aligning resources, their skills, and project demands, a company’s utilization rates will naturally increase and stay strong over time.

As businesses continue to implement their capacity planning strategy, they can learn from past projects and create a deeper catalog of employee skills to further improve planning and resource matching. These incremental improvements can have an increasingly positive effect on utilization rates until a business hits a utilization percentage that keeps them profitable while also avoiding employee burnout.

What is resource demand?

Resource demand is the amount of billable hours required from employees or contract workers at a given time, which is derived from projects. For example, a company with a large amount of in-progress or upcoming projects will experience high resource demand due to the amount of time required from team members to hit deadlines. Resource demand and capacity planning go hand in hand to effectively map out future work at a company.

Final Thoughts:

  • Pull accurate data from your resource and project management systems to understand total resource capacity and the true amount of time each project takes for stronger capacity planning.
  • Truly successful capacity planning will utilize a deep database of resource skills to make the most of a team member’s time and capabilities.
  • Work to finetune your capacity planning strategies and learn from past projects to improve your utilization rates steadily over time.
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