Are You Outnumbered? Time to Consider Resource Capacity Planning

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In the previous season of Game of Thrones, seven motley heroes ventured into the cold wilderness against an army of thousands of frozen zombies, just so they could bring one of the creatures back alive (or at least undead). 

Why, you ask? 

Well, they needed one as proof to win the allegiance of a skeptical rival queen so humans could join forces in the inevitable fight against the forthcoming "army of the dead."

While you may not be facing an army of the dead, it sure may seem like it sometimes. After all, the incoming projects and current workloads nearly always outnumber the resources you have to get them done. By a lot.

It's human (and organizational) nature. Everyone wants more than can be delivered. Demand nearly always exceeds supply. You also may have goals and pet projects you want to undertake, lofty ideas that will wow everyone, if you could ever see the light of day to get to them.

What you need to do is level the playing field so you're not so grossly outnumbered like our heroes from Game of Thrones, but you can still get the important things done. Ah yes, you may be wondering how our heroes fared. 

Well, (SPOILER ALERT)... they were rescued at the last minute by their own Queen Daenerys and her dragons. 

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Anyway, unless you have dragons, that's not an option. Instead, what you need are three things:

  • An inventory of demand by time period (The projects that need to be done, now and in the foreseeable future)
  • An inventory of supply by time period (Your people/teams and the hours they have available to work on projects)
  • An understanding of priorities (The relative importance of each project, since you won't be able to do everything)

With that triple threat of core data, you can then develop an "effort forecast" by assigning people or teams to projects, in priority sequence. It's as simple as that. 

Well, maybe not THAT simple because there are bound to be arguments over priority and who gets the resources, but that's why you have portfolio review meetings, to discuss constraints and make value-based decisions. See my interview with Ken Dobie for more on that.

Keep in mind, the priority doesn't have to be a sequential 1-n rank, especially if you have hundreds of projects; it can be in priority "groups" or bands (1000 are the "must dos", 2000s are next, etc.). You can always rank certain competing blocks of projects sequentially. But you must know the relative priority of the work you're being asked to take on.

The central principle here is: The most valuable bird gets the worm.  

In essence, by employing resource planning on a regular basis and always balancing prioritized demand with supply, you'll find that you can attack a much more realistic work portfolio and have a far greater chance of delivering it successfully. No dragons required.

For those interested, I'm co-hosting the PDWare Explorer free monthly webinar series with Paul Samarel, CTO at PDWare, where we'll be offering more valuable tips and techniques on resource and portfolio management. A partial product demo is also included, but in the context of the topics discussed. It's not a sales pitch. The next session is on Portfolio Delivery, Thursday, April 26th at 11am US EST. Click HERE for more information or to register for that or other monthly sessions. 

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Jerry Manas is the bestselling author of The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook, Napoleon on Project Management, and more. At PDWare, Jerry helps clients improve strategy execution through tools and processes that align people and work with organizational priorities. Connect with Jerry on Twitter and LinkedIn