Capacity management refers to how a business operates on a day-to-day basis and how productive it can be. Capacity can be measured based on whether or not you have the means or resources to complete a particular project.
For example, if you run a coffee shop, you should know how many baristas you need working the afternoon shift. Once you determine how busy your business gets after lunch, you can plan for capacity by allocating the right number of employees to serve the anticipated amount of customers.
While human capital is an essential resource for any business, it isn’t the only one you need to thrive. Budgetary constraints can hamstring your company if demand exceeds your output, for instance.
Without a thorough understanding of where you stand with regards to capacity, you put yourself at a disadvantage as you’re unable to predict future resource needs and production capabilities. Capacity management can’t be the result of a single brainstorming session or group meeting, either, as it’s an ongoing process that can be affected by factors such as seasons, weather, and customer demand.
To plan capacity for the long term, you need to equip yourself with the right tool to do the job. Find a tool that’ll take care of the heavy lifting, and your job will be much easier. In this guide, we’ll assess some of the very best and go over effective strategies to help you maximize productivity.
Capacity planning: why should you care?
Capacity planning is a process often undertaken by a project manager with the end goal of streamlining workflows and removing bottlenecks. If you’re understaffed or lack the financial capital to fulfill your business promises, you’ll face major setbacks and your bottom line will suffer, which is why you need a gameplan.
There are many compelling reasons to invest in your capacity planning process, such as the following:
Informs key decision-making processes
When you consider the resources you have at your disposal, you can make more accurate predictions regarding various projects. For example, if your team is working around the clock to finish the current workload, that tells you that it would be ill-advised to burden them with more work. In this instance, your human resources are low, and the solution would be to make a hire, draft someone in on a freelance basis, or outsource some of the work.
Employee burnout is a serious issue in the workplace, especially with the fractured nature of the remote work model which disperses employees away from the office. As such, it would be naive to risk overloading your team members when they’ve already got a lot on their plate.
A capacity planning tool, when used wisely, can save you a lot of money in terms of operational costs. Think about it, instead of paying five freelancers’ fees for several hours of work, you can just hire one freelancer for a day of work. This could prove cost-effective, and if you’ve planned ahead of time, will save you from burning through extra resources.
You can also manage resource load with a capacity planning tool so that you minimize idle time by utilizing time tracking. If you split up a team to work on two separate projects with looming due dates, you may be able to get more out of your employees than if they were all plugging away at the same task.
Top 3 capacity management tools
Capacity management is a game of numbers, and as such, it’s often the case that computers do it best. That is to say, software, when monitored by someone who’s in the know, can improve your results and squeeze out as much productivity from the business as possible.
Jira is predominantly a project management tool, concerned with the completion of tasks and successful running of projects. However, it has an impressive array of integrations, among which is ActivityTimeline.
ActivityTimeline is an excellent app for capacity management and planning. Paired with Jira’s project management suite, the app can help you see projects through to completion while staying aware of your resources - both human and capital. Since the app is fully synchronized with Jira, all your projects will appear in a single place, so you’ll be able to track all your existing tasks and projects along a visual timeline.
ActivityTimeline also provides insights into workloads and availability at a glance, so you can monitor how resources are being used in real-time. No longer will you lose track of who’s working on what, or how much time and money you’ve sunk into a particular project.
Toggl Plan is another popular capacity management tool, which gives users the ability to analyze how well different teams are performing in real-time. Toggl Plan is part of the Toggl suite, which also includes a time-tracking tool.
The tool app enables collaboration at a company-wide level, allowing team leaders to schedule out tasks for individual team members, and coworkers to team up on individual projects. Toggl Plan brings clarity to the capacity planning process, as deadlines can be set and adhered to within the software. This provides direction for employees and encourages optimal use of company resources.
The app lets users create a timeline for their tasks and projects, and features simple drag-and-drop for a straightforward organization.
Teamup lets capacity planners get a leg up when it comes to managing resources. It’s a simple tool, but one which works well for small teams. Teamup is essentially a shared calendar that all team members will have access to. In the calendar, you can schedule team meetings, briefings, and project milestones such as important dates along the way.
The benefit of displaying the information in a calendar view is that managers can zoom in on a micro level to see how resources are allocated. Then, they can also zoom out for a broad overview of progress and performance. There are also sub-calendars which can be used for different departments, teams, or individuals to ensure clarity. The option to color-code the calendars makes it easy to identify different types of projects, and resources.