Enhancing workforce capacity planning

Capacity Planning

Optimizing resource utilization is critical for successful project delivery, there are conventional practices which enable a project team to be more efficient. Prominent companies find it necessary to take a data-driven approach to plan for the needs of the organization proactively. As it minimizes the extra cost of misaligned talent deployment. An advanced capacity planning solution is designed to provide project leaders with the foresight into workforce capacity. It provides enterprise-wide visibility into the available skills that lets them decrease the bench strength.

These insights allow project managers to tap into the right potential and allocate the right resources to the task. Moreover, this unmatched visibility into critical skill gaps and foresight into capacity and demand for future projects helps project managers to enhance productivity and deliver the best results.

Leverage the right tools to obtain the benefits which will enhance capacity planning, this can be achieved by the following;

Assign the key resources to the task, resources which have the specialized skillset for the high priority projects. The reason is that their talent and expertise can impact billable and strategic work in the future. This allocation will help the project obtain traction almost immediately.

By setting up a systematic and organized resource profile, there will be an almost immediate knowledge of resource’s abilities and competencies, and if they have taken training in a related course. This skill can then be utilised to recognize opportunities that align with a resource’s capabilities and assign them these tasks. This is not only helping the business grow but also enabling resources to grow professionally and enhance performance.

Preparing for unforeseen scenarios, a robust capacity planning tool caters to this as well. In the initial planning stages of a project, situations can be modified and predictions on likely outcomes with some accuracy can be made. While doing so, planning for what is best suited to the project and is profitable for the future. Planning for “what if” scenarios is essential, as the data-driven actionable insights allows for strategic decisions and empowers performance levels down the line. This will also spare any unnecessary budget overruns, project bottlenecks where unmatched visibility of all the situations determined well in advance. It also help’s optimize resource utilization and work assignments for future projects.

One of the major benefits of capacity planning solution is its ability to generate accurate forecast reports. These reports will forewarn the future project resource demand and the actual capacity. By leveraging these reports, bridge’s the capacity vs. demand gap by using appropriate resourcing treatment.

Enabling these predictions will also provide a comprehensive view of excess and shortage of resources (resources gap) which might be faced down the line. To cater to this, implement adequate remedial measures and ensure uniform utilization of resources.

The following is a list of potential solutions:

When there is a shortage of resources: 

  • Adjust project timelines to align with available capacity.
  • Retrain and skill up available employees to fill the gaps.
  • Hire contingent workforce before time to avoid further roadblocks.
  • Optimize Bench Management to minimize bench time.

When resources are in excess:

  • Bring forward project timelines to allocate tasks to the idle resources.
  • Fast-track projects by marketing the capacity available.
  • Bring forward initiatives to meet strategic goals and allow resources to brainstorm and contribute.
  • Allow movement of resources across departments to maximize utilization and reduce bench time.

Allocating resources is not the end of capacity planning. One major responsibility a project manager has is to keep the project costs under control, maximize billability, and reduce resourcing costs. In order to do so, project managers must keep a check on the project’s progress, resources’ progress, and the number of hours they log to a task.

This is significant because when a report is generated with actual hours utilized by resources, there can be a comparison with the actual against the forecasted hours for each task. If resources exceed the planned hours, then plan and identify the potential reasons behind the difference and take corrective measures ahead of the curve. This will keep the project costs in check and keep the project from incurring any unnecessary costs.

Different types of projects demand different courses of planning. A mature resource manager goes for a hybrid approach to plan projects. Streamline a 3-step approach of planning, representing, and assigning resources. Here is the detailed explanation of each step:

  • Plan – the most important step to a successful project is a well-channelized plan, opt for the best approach that suits the project. For example, use work breakdown structures to detail the stages and allocate resources. In other cases when not sure of the resources who will work on the tasks, generate a high-level planning and approvals from senior managers to proceed further.
  • Represent – A capacity planning solution is flexible enough to enable representation of resource demand in different units. Directly represent the demand in headcounts, or FTE (Full-time equivalent- standard working hours of a firm per week), or several hours available. For instance, if 4 FTE are required, that means four employees are needed to work for 4 weeks or 4 employees to work for a week and complete the task.
  • Assign – After creating a meticulous plan and listing the resource demand, the last step is to use the advanced filters of the tool, enter requirements based on role, department, competencies, location, availability, and a number of hours/FTE/headcount and assign the right resources to the right task.

A powerful, advanced, and comprehensive capacity planning tool is pivotal to utilize project resources to their optimum. When a project manager has 360-degree visibility of the resources and their skills, then they can build the highest value project and eliminate potential pitfalls.

The above-mentioned tips to scale up capacity planning process will empower a project manager with the appropriate decision-making capability. Enhances , and helps resources to add a more valuable contribution to the project.

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