Capacity planning on projects

29.11.2016

Capacity planning is a prerequisite for an optimal resource utilization and helps to avoid conflicts in case two or more projects require the same solver resources at the same time.

ObjectGears solves a number of ITIL processes including change management and helps to maintain a good overview also in projects that implement these changes. ObjectGears has recently added a comprehensive area dealing with capacity planning. Current areas dealing with planning and prioritization of company programmes and portfolios and their breakdown to projects and work on project in terms of assigning tasks by a project manager to solvers are extended by:

  • resource planning by the project manager in the course of time (requests for team or particular users in particular period of time - e.g. by month)
  • approval of requests from project managers by managers of solution teams
  • recording the time spent on particular tasks by particular users
  • reporting of requested, approved and reported capacities (mandays)

In small teams planning usually occurs in form of verbal agreements between particular people. It is often the most effective way of planning. With increase of the volume of the required changes, number of solvers and need to change priorities, we are going to find out that this way does not work any more. The issue is not only in a missing evidence of agreements and plans but mainly in the mechanism in which the approvals and agreements shall be realized. With an increasing volume of agenda it is not possible any more to use a face to face meeting of the project manager and solution team manager. Requests are coming from many projects and address number of solution teams. Since project priorities are also changing during time, new projects start and ongoing projects are more specific about their needs, the process of planning needs to reiterate reguarly. What is solved by a more or less complex spreadsheet at the beginning, cannot be managed by an Excel anymore.

What in particular should such a system ensure?

  • All the project managers know, how their projects are planned, which collaborators they will need when and whether this need is just a plan, resources were already requested or solver resources were already approved/rejected.
  • All the solution team managers know, which requests are coming to them from particular projects. They can see collisions or issues with underutilization of their teams. Issues can be escalated in order to align expectations from projects with real capabilities of the company. They can approve or reject the requests.
  • Project managers plan tasks with stating an estimated work effort. The system checks that the tasks for a given period do not exceed approved capacities of the solver.
  • Solvers are recording what they did on project in particular days and how much time they spent with that. Therefore, they can prove what they worked on in particular days. Time sheets can be used later on e.g. as a supporting document to capitalization of an asset that is developed or appreciated within the project.
  • Project managers can see how the tasks evolve including the time that the solvers have already spent on the project. They can switch from an overall picture into a detail and see what was done in particular days and how much time was spent on partcular activities.
  • Project managers approve time sheets of solvers allocated to their projects and control budget usage in this way.
  • PMO (Project management office) can see the big picture and can identify resource collisions or their overallocation and check alignment of project plans with decisions made in the steering committee of programmes and portfolios.

The following picture shows an ideal path of planning and resource utilization. The system needs to be ready also for a solution of all the possible options.

 

We are implementing the new system of the capacity planning at one of our customers at the moment. We are looking forward to inform you about a real life experience from using this system by our users.

Screen example - Project resources

The project often runs for several years. Within this period of time it is necessary to plan the resources in a detailed way and breakdown allocated mandays to particular roles, teams or members. Monthly plan of resource utilization enables to identify collisions with other projects requesting the same resources or the other way around resource underutilization.

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