Workload Capacity Planning – 2023 Guide

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According to the digital project manager, Workload capacity planning is a management process that determines How many team members with what skillsets are required to execute tasks within your project portfolio and. Whether your existing supply of resources is sufficient to meet demand.

Workload capacity planning is a management process that determines:

  1. How many team members with what skillsets are required to execute tasks within your project portfolio and
  2. Whether your existing supply of resources is sufficient to meet demand.


Why Workload Planning Is Important

There are many reasons why capacity planning (workload planning) is important. For one, it helps a business determine how much work to take on without negatively impacting quality and/or the bottom line.

Capacity planning also helps ensure that employees have a positive working environment and feel valued in their jobs.

When you aren’t managing capacity correctly, project team members may become overworked and feel undervalued. Over time, this contributes to high turnover, a costly organizational problem.

Workload Capacity Planning And Project Management

A project manager’s goal is to determine how many team members are required to execute a project and which type of skills they should have. The project manager should then use that information to create a workload capacity plan that allows for predictable work hours, shared responsibility among staff members, and a strategy for addressing any issues.

Capacity planning reports are a useful tool for determining capacity at the individual level, the project level, and across organizations.

How Workload Capacity Planning Works

This section describes what effective capacity planning looks like, explains how to avoid common pitfalls, and reviews the basic steps involved.

What Effective Workload Capacity Planning Looks Like

The following factors help determine whether a capacity management plan is effective:

  • Workload capacity is based on both project needs and team member availability.
  • Quantitative, historical data justifies changes in project staffing requirements over time.
  • Staffing needs are responsive to changing project conditions (e.g. you can get by with fewer hours than planned from your busy subject matter expert.)
  • You eliminate excess workload capacity so team members are fully engaged.
  • You can calculate project capacity with a degree of accuracy that meets key stakeholder requirements (i.e. your client is happy with your forecasts.)

Prevent Problems With Effective Workload Capacity Planning

Effective capacity plans solve for key project challenges, including:

  • Scheduling delays due to lack of resource availability
  • Higher rates of errors and accidents due to overworked team members
  • Unnecessary project expenditures and/or poor quality of project deliverables due to engaging resources that are misaligned with project goals.

Left unchecked, these project challenges can lead to organizational challenges, such as:

  • Employees feeling overworked and undervalued in their jobs
  • High staff turnover rates
  • Talent tech gap
  • Reputational risk to the company due to lack of employee engagement and/or poor customer service.

The Basic Steps Of Workload Capacity Planning

There are three steps to the capacity planning process:

  1. Forecast demand. What are your upcoming projects and the tasks that comprise those projects? What team members with what skillsets are required to complete project activities? How long will each activity take to complete?
  2. Determine resource availability and capacity. What team members are available to work on upcoming projects? How much time does each person have available to dedicate to your project? Capacity planning software may be useful for aggregating this information across your organization.
  3. Create a capacity plan. The plan should include the correct number of staff members needed for each project task that they will be assigned to cover. It should also provide detailed information about how many hours per day employees can work on the project and their skill set.

Techniques For Workload Capacity Planning

Project managers can create a capacity plan based on a variety of different workload capacity planning techniques. Examples of these techniques include:

  • Critical path method: identify which tasks take more time than others or that are dependent on other tasks for completion and calculate capacity based on estimated time to complete those tasks
  • Program evaluation and review technique (PERT) method: calculate the amount of time you expect it will take to complete each project task based on a weighted average of possible estimates (optimistic, pessimistic, and most likely)
  • Performance monitoring: measure existing capacity levels and use historical data to project how much capacity you will need in the future
  • Simulation modeling: create a workload capacity plan and test it out before implementing
  • Analytical modeling: compare capacity and workload levels with different types of events or tasks.


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