Realistic capacity planning requires four key ingredients to ensure project deadlines and goals are not entirely derailed.
No matter how well capacity planning considers potential risks, unforeseen things always seem to crop up and threaten to foil your team’s efforts and risk your deadlines. Such was the case when the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced. It was a reality check that tested the best and brightest Project Management Offices (PMOs) worldwide. Some were able to shift their resources quickly and effectively, while many others struggled to prioritize projects or meet project schedules and goals.
Strategy Realized Through Capacity Planning and Resource Management
Resource management and capacity planning isn’t a new revelation, yet many organizations still don’t practice these. Projects start as a “Field of Dreams,” Donna Fitzgerald discusses in her recent video (part nine of a nine-part series on capacity planning), “How Resource Capacity Planning Enables Strategy Execution.” When it comes to strategy and its relationship to capacity planning and resource management, it’s all about people and technology. It’s about resource management at a project level, resource capacity at the portfolio level, and technology as enablers of strategy.
As Donna Fitzgerald explains in another video, “What to do when Reality Derails Your Resource Capacity Planning,” we all know from the day you start that Murphy is going to get involved. There’s generally not an allotment for Murphy in the project plan. By factoring these four things into your capacity planning, it can ensure resources are correctly allocated and utilized and reduce your project portfolio risks overall.
5 Keys To Addressing Derailed Resource Capacity Planning
1. Start with the end date or promised goal(s) in mind
Meeting the business purpose for a project relies heavily on keeping the end date in the forefront at all times. When issues arise that risk that deadline, it’s necessary to revisit the end date or deadline and look for areas where there’s wiggle room to cut out fat or waste without compromising the end date. Make sure also to recognize that changes made will impact other areas such as cost or quality. It’s about understanding fit-for-purpose, says Fitzgerald.
2. Any resource borrowed must be compensated for somehow
Project schedules should be preserved whenever possible; make sure the right resources with the needed skill sets are available and allocated correctly from the start to reduce issues down the road. When one resource needs to be shifted to another project, it’s necessary to replace any borrowed resources; this ensures one project isn’t penalized for saving another.
3. Don’t allocate rock-star multi-faceted resources
It’s common to experience bottle-neck resources in any organization; it’s a wise practice to identify experts in multiple areas and avoid allocating them full-time to any specific project. They are better utilized as a floating resource and switch-hitting on multiple projects as needed. This ensures their value is optimized throughout project portfolios.
4. Technology must be a part of the solution
As Fitzgerald says,” today there are some barriers to achieving strategy such as a resource management disengagement rate of 63%. Being able to fix this increases the available productive resources. There’s typically a resource capacity problem with too many people working on too many things simultaneously and too much work in the pipeline simultaneously. Resolving these massive barriers to success requires using technology to identify the best available resources and where or how to successfully utilize each one to get to strategy execution.
It’s always the best strategy to do what’s needed to avoid project failure; once a project is at risk of becoming derailed, it is possible to get things back on track, but it becomes more complicated. Following Donna Fitzgerald’s advice and utilizing capacity planning and resource management tools to gain more visibility can make all the difference between success and failure.