Resources are integral to project success. Because a project’s end results are often only as good as the resource planning that goes into it. When project resource capacity planning is done right, projects are more likely to be delivered on time with less conflicts, unnecessary spending, and resource conflicts.
In this article we’ll explain what exactly resource capacity planning is and how it will benefit your project management. We’ll also give you 3 simple tips to help improve your projects’ resource capacity planning.
Simply put, resource capacity planning is ensuring that project and task demands have the right amount of resources. This includes both human and non-human resources such as people and equipment. It aims to not only fill capacity, but to do so in the most efficient way. This is achieved by looking not only at current availability but also the future. And similarly to resource management, capacity planning works best when resources and tasks are matched in terms of skills, needs, and demands.
Ensuring that all your projects are delivered on time is the obvious reason why capacity planning is so important. But there’s a few more reasons why project managers need to
It’s not about one resource or even one project. Because no project is an island. In project resource management, it’s all about the big picture.
That’s why one of the best ways to plan your projects is to create a singular resource pool. That way, everyone will know exactly what kind of resources you have, how to apply these resources and who is responsible for what. Doing this also helps dive into details (for example, individual utilization of each resource) and zoom out for the bird’s-eye view of everything else that’s going on (i.e. group utilization or the utilization of your resources across the project portfolio).
By attempting to understand the big picture, everyone in your organization will have a clearer idea of how they fit into the mix. Not only will that help them perform their own individual tasks better, but it may also give them some additional motivation. After all, wouldn’t you be inclined to work a little harder on a small task if you knew what the entire project was supposed to look like when it was finished?
Planning with Gantt charts is a simple way to get an overview of your projects and tasks. Unlike the hand-drawn charts of yesertyear (or that Gantt chart you made in Excel last week) dedicated tools make it easy to zoom out for that big picture view.
And when you use online Gantt charts it’s super easy to share plans with the whole team or department. Team members can sign in and view the plans from anywhere. Which also means plans can be updated on-the-go. Check out a few of our favorite Gantt chart software options here.
Along with your pool of resources, you also need to have a master schedule that everyone has access to. Why is this so important?
Firstly, a central schedule will make the communication easier since project portfolio managers will see how each project is progressing. There’s still a need for a detailed project communication plan but on the day to day level, a central schedule that can be accessed from wherever you are without installing anything is a real timesaver.
Some of your employees may have skills that can be used in several departments of your company. For example, Chris may work in the IT department, but if he’s also a really talented artist, the department responsible for creative ideas in your company may also find him useful when working on an unusually tight schedule.
Another big perk of having a central resource schedule? Keeping track of your deadlines. Since everyone will have access to the schedule, they’ll know exactly how much time they have before they have to “hand off the baton”, so to speak.
For example, the department responsible for creative ideas will know that it has one week to come up with a logo before the Marketing department has to put it on the brochures and send them off to the printer. In addition to making the workflow visual, you can add dependencies to make it extra clear. You can add milestones for the most important points in your project life cycles for everyone to see.
For that kind of things to work, you must map your team’s skills. Being thorough at this point will pay off in the long run. That’s what resource management and planning is all about! When everyone in the company can see what everyone else’s obligations (and time constraints) are, you lessen your chances of putting too much of a burden on any one person or any one department. And, as an added bonus, you don’t have to force people like Chris into the awkward position of having to say no.
There’s no point in putting in man-hours when you can use software to automate things. Technology can help you with certain parts of your resource planning, which means you can start working faster. The sooner you start working, the sooner you can produce results!
Resource planning isn’t something you can do once and then it’s done. It’s something you have to do continuously. You have to possess the information about the status of each project in the portfolio to allocate resources accordingly during the lifetime of your projects.
Sometimes, a project with high priority is stuck, and you have to allocate additional resources. Other times, tasks will take a lot less time than planned, and you can move resources to a new project that you have just landed. If you are using spreadsheets to do all that, it’ll take time that you don’t need to spend. So, feel free to use whatever technology you can, to streamline the “easy” stuff. That way, you’ll have more time and more energy to tackle the “hard” stuff.
In the end, you’ll wind up with a better product – without necessarily spending more time working!
There are several resource planning tools out there. Most offer a free trial, so you can get a feel for how they fit within your project workflow. So the only thing you should really need is the courage and energy to take the first step. The rest is easy!
Some “must have” features for a resource capacity planning tool are:
We compare 5 of the best online Gantt chart software. Features, prices, specialties- it’s all here to help choose your next favorite tool!
Here’re 6 ineffective resource planning may be hurting your projects. Identify and correct the problems and find success. Learn how!
Resource management is all about implementing the right processes to get the most out of your team and tools. The practice is valuable for all organizations. Because resources are the…...
What’s resource management and why is it so important? Here’s 5 ways managing your resources can help your projects, organization and teams.
14-day free trial. No credit card required.