Capacity Planning and Resource Management for Project Success
Tips to Ensure Your Project Completes On Time and Within Budget
A project can be seen as a combination of inputs that must combine to deliver an output. Capacity planning ensures all the ingredients come together.
Mention capacity planning and most people envisage the raw materials and technical expertise that are required to deliver a tangible product to an end user. However, the principle runs deeper, and applies to any product or service you can think of.
Whatever your project, from building a sports arena to developing a website, resource manager software can help you manage the resources that you need to meet the expected deliverables. However, it goes beyond simply meeting the client demands. Capacity planning ensures you have the resources to hand as and when you need them, while avoiding over capacity and the costs that are associated with resources standing idle.
It sounds simple enough in theory, but how can you put capacity planning and resource management into action? The following steps will put you on the right path.
1) Understand your starting point
There is an old joke about a traveller in the upstate countryside asking a local for directions to New York City. After due consideration, he is told: “If I was you, I wouldn’t start from here.”
The point is that you cannot reach your desired destination unless you understand your starting point, so before you dive into a capacity planning strategy, take some time to understand how the existing structure, culture and resources affect resource management and project readiness.
2) Use the right tools
The digital age brings new opportunities to have better visibility of the resources that are available, and to use them effectively. Having the most effective capacity planning tools in place shines a light on your resources and gives you a complete and detailed picture of what you are working with.
3) View the big picture
Unless you are starting a new business from scratch, your capacity planning activity will have to allow for a number of projects at various stages. Take a step back to view the big picture of all the projects that are either ongoing or planned. To have any hope of success, you need to understand the status of every project, along with its resource needs.
Spend some time with the Project Managers to determine which projects need to take priority. This could be a matter of customer deadlines, or it might come down to which projects will deliver the best return to the business. Bear in mind that not all projects work in a vacuum, and the success of one might be contingent on the completion of another.
5) Allocate resources wisely
A key tenet of capacity planning is to understand that resources are a precious commodity and are not unlimited. It is essential that the value of every resource is understood and that its allocation is based on sound business sense and strategic planning. Bizarrely, over-allocation is typically one of the biggest drains on those companies that can least afford it and are trying to squeeze more productivity out of fewer resources.
6) Monitor and improve
Finally, none of the above steps are one-off activities. Optimising capacity planning and resource allocation is a process of continuous improvement, so look to develop benchmarks and best practices to do more of what works well and less of what doesn’t.