Enterprises are dealing with a highly volatile market in 2021, and resources are scarce. With resources being the most expensive elements of any business, it’s important that enterprises manage their resources carefully and efficiently. Many businesses don’t have dedicated resource capacity planning tools, being forced instead to use legacy systems and old fashioned legwork to source and allocate resources. It’s critical that companies carefully consider how to update their resource planning processes, to ensure that staff have everything they need to successfully manage their projects.
Capacity Planning vs. Resource Planning
First, it’s important to understand the difference between capacity planning and resource planning.
- Capacity planning — Capacity planning entails proactive calculation of whether a company or individual project has the resources, including the materials and skills, they need to complete a project successfully, and has the resources to meet any evolving customer or business demands or requests.
- Resource planning — Resource planning is the efficient management, organization and allocation of resources needed to complete a project or task. Resource managers are valuable assets, as they are responsible for allocating tasks, changing deadlines and other critical tasks, over the lifecycle of the project.
What Is Resource Capacity Planning?
Resource capacity planning is the process of conducting both capacity planning and resource planning. In short, it requires determining the time and effort the team will expend while completing the project, and the resources this particular team will need to successfully complete the assignment. The person responsible for resource capacity planning must follow the project through to completion, as any variation, from a sick staff member to a late delivery, could potentially consume extra resources.
It’s important to plan ahead, to ensure that even with deviations from the plan, people have the resources they need at all times. Examples of resources include people, assets, facilities, transportation, budgets and time management. All these resources must be tracked and recorded in a single repository. This role facilitates the real-time allocation or reallocation of resources, based on capacity and demand, and also provides early warnings about any shortages, excess, vacancies or margins that might be affected, allowing the business to proactively take steps to avoid the situation.
For more information on the role of a resource capacity planning coordinator, or the process of resource capacity planning, visit SkillSource, and benefit from the years of collective experience, through their highly-trained consultants.
Resource Capacity Management Tips
Let’s delve deeper in the process of resource capacity management, by examining several resource capacity management recommendations to follow, to ensure you are doing the most for your team and projects.
- Forecast capacity vs. demand using metrics related to role, department, team, location or even skills, and form a project resource plan in advance. Use this information to develop both short and long-term goals, and any potential shortage of resources. A capacity vs. demand report ensures that management can proactively plan to stock and supply the right amount of resources for different situations and eventualities, before the project even begins.
- Track and analyse competency in real-time to maintain the most current information about abilities and workforce resources. With the right skills, experience and qualifications allocated to the right projects, you ensure each individual project has the staff with the niche skills to complete it successfully. New projects will benefit from this data, as critical employee assets and skills can be identified and allocated to future projects with very little new research required.
- Manage project pipeline efficiently to easily determine current and future resource needs and demands. This ensures resources and skills are balanced and ready to meet the unique demands of each project. This step will also show where skills are lacking, and allow the business to hire or train the right staff for future projects.
- Predict and improve overall resource utilization, and use long and short term forecasting to determine the best strategy going forward with a project. This step will tell you where you might need to take corrective action to protect the project, or business profitability.
- Foresee project vacancies and determine how to best fill them with existing people on the bench. This type of forward thinking will ensure that your projects are always staffed appropriately, and that skilled and enthusiastic employees can look forward to future projects which might lead to upward mobility.
- Streamline resource requisition to ensure projects are completed on time. Organizing the workflow is critical to avoid the chaos of phone calls, emails and messages, as they are often difficult to follow and hide critical information in piles of data or in long feeds. This step is rather complex, as it requires a great deal of data, all of which must be collated, organized and stored, yet easy to read, find and readily accessible. There are several steps you can take at this point to be sure your resource requisition is streamlined.
- Start tracking time and level of effort
Distractions or issues with resources could make a simple task last hours or even days. Start with a total reality check for your team. Find out where they are spending most of their time and effort, and how long they are taking to complete tasks. A great way to do this easily is to use tracking software, which will help benchmark how long each task takes, and how long it SHOULD take. Be sure to get buy-in from your team before tracking time and effort, unless you want them to feel overly managed and stifled under restrictions. Work closely with your team to optimize their tasks and processes, a skill that will bleed over into every project they are assigned.
- Identify bottlenecks
Bottlenecks are found in roles, processes, communication and people. Keep careful track of these bottlenecks, and ensure the right resources are reaching the right people to eliminate the backup. Traditional tracking on spreadsheets works to identify bottlenecks, but resource management and project planning software can also help. No matter the method you choose, ensure you are looking for bottlenecks by watching team members, assignments, production status, and due dates carefully.
- Leave wiggle room for L&D
A 2018 survey found that a majority of employees reported not having mastered the skills they need to be successful at their current jobs. This means learning and development (L&D) is no longer optional. It’s important that employees get the support and development they need to be, and feel, successful. Google is famous for insisting that 20% of employee time is devoted to L&D, and this is best accomplished during the resource capacity planning stage of a project. Plan to allow each team member a certain number of L&D hours per week, and subtract these from the hours the employee would be scheduled to work on your project.
- Calculate true availability for work
After you’ve crunched all these numbers, it’s time to determine how much time team members have to complete their actual work. “Work about work” is the time staff spend on work-related tasks like checking email or attending meetings. Determine if employee time is being spent on the most important tasks, and if it isn’t, reallocate them to more productive roles or projects. The data you gathered in the first step should make this process easy and fast, meaning faster reallocation or reassignment as needed to complete projects.
- Prioritize projects to allocate resources
It’s finally time to rank your projects in order of priority, and execute your total resource capacity plan. Rank time-sensitive or projects critical to business growth first, followed by less critical assignments. This will ensure that no staff or resources are mistakenly allocated to projects without a time limit, or projects which will produce limited results for the company.
For help from the experts on project management and resource capacity planning, contact SkillSource today, and benefit from their years of collective experience training, maintaining and enabling better management and resource capacity planning.