Every small business needs to do resource capacity planning. You need to ensure that the right people are working on the right projects at the right time. As your business grows and you manage more projects and more employees, it becomes almost impossible to do this on the fly. That’s why you need capacity planning software to guarantee all your projects will be properly staffed to meet their deadlines.

The right resource management system shows you which employees are allocated to which projects and for how much of their time. But that’s not all it accomplishes for you. It enables you to plan and prioritize your projects early on. If priorities, deadlines or budgets change, you have the overall picture that shows how to reallocate resources. It tells you which employees are underutilized or overutilized and who needs more or less assigned work.

Capacity planning tools helps you look up from day-to-day operations management and think about long-term requirements. You can see where your projects will be weeks or months in the future. You’ll know well in advance that a project is at risk of becoming overstaffed or understaffed or experiencing a bottleneck at a busy time. You can anticipate how budget and priority changes might impact your ability to meet deadlines. You can adjust schedules and staffing the ensure you’re not surprised by multiple projects that reach their peak personnel requirements at the same time.

With a good resource management system, all the information you need is at your fingertips in reports and screens. Budgeted and actual hours can be sliced and diced any way you need to see them. You’ll know what you need you to know to stay on top of projects as they proceed and to deftly reschedule and reallocate when things change. You’ll have the data to make good decisions and be confident in them.

Resource Capacity Planning Software

When you evaluate resource capacity planning software, you’re looking for a package that makes it easy to assign staff to projects at the task level as well as the project level. All the information about planned hours and actual hours should be at the ready. It ought to be easy to make changes to quickly pivot priority and assigned resources.

The heart of good resource management software is a comprehensive dashboard. Everything you need to understand and everything you might need to change should be accessible from a dashboard. The BigTime resource allocation dashboard starts by providing a big picture overview. From there you can drill down into budget hours, total input hours and billable hours. These can be broken out by project, task and employee. The data presents itself in tabular form and in graphs. You can compare budgeted hours to actual and see what percentage of allocated hours has been utilized.

To the individual responsible for resource management, these are more than just numbers. They’re real-time, customized reports about the health of the company and its projects. They’re a measure of whether the organization and the staff can take on more work. If there are available staff, a project manager can assign them to projects and tasks directly from the dashboard.

No one wants to saddle an employee with more work than one person can do, and you certainly don’t want a valuable resource sitting “on the bench” because no manager could see how to put them into play. With resource capacity planning tools, manual seat-of-your-pants tracking is a thing of the past. The right system fosters communication and provides transparency around resource allocation. It helps you bring the right level of staffing to every phase of a project.

Team Capacity Planning

Team capacity planning is, at the basic level, the process of matching the available hours of a team against the hours that will be demanded by a project. When you talk about your team capacity, you’re talking about the maximum amount of work your group can do in a given time frame.

In all capacity planning strategies, the first question to ask about any new project is this: do you have the capacity to do it at all? That is, do your team members have enough available hours to fulfill all the project tasks on the schedule you want to meet? If the answer is no, the best workforce capacity planning in the world won’t magically make it happen. You’ll have to bring in more resources, push back the project due date or some combination of the two.

Team capacity planning is a balancing act involving several factors, including the capacity of the team, the budget for the project hours and timeline demands or other demands of the client or stakeholder. It’s often a complex process that challenges the skill and ingenuity of any manager. For a manager to meet this challenge, the critical weapon is information.

Managers need to know how the project tasks will be laid out over time. Project dependencies are significant. There are critical tasks that have to be done early and expeditiously, or they’ll become bottlenecks that put the entire project schedule at risk. Managers need to know who will be available and when so that they can make sure they have enough resources to ensure the timely completion of the tasks that matter most. They need to be forecasters so that the organization will not be caught with a shortage of resources at a critical juncture.

Even the most brilliant and intuitive of managers would be hard pressed to do these things with spreadsheets and manual processes. That’s where capacity planning software comes in.

Capacity Planning Tools

With team capacity planning tools, managers have the weaponry to fulfill all of their resource management responsibilities. The right capacity management software gives them a dashboard that shows them how personnel are mapped to the project and affords them the ability to easily change it. They get all the metrics they need to make resource projections and to anticipate and prepare changes in project timelines or staff availability.

A good tool slashes the time it takes to assign and track resources. It cuts down on meetings and planning sessions. It becomes apparent early on when and where more staff will be needed. The system shows who might be available from other departments or projects to step in. It tells you when they’ll be available and how much time they can contribute. If there’s not enough capacity in-house, the best software tools point out in a timely manner the need to hire more resources.

A capacity planning tool such as BigTime has a rich reporting functionality. There are standard and customized reports on various aspects of company and project standing. They’re available immediately from the most current data. You can generate graphs that show budgets vs. actuals over time. You can assess your efficiency month by month.

Capacity Software

One of the advantages of BigTime is the way it integrates with a wide range of small business software. Specifically, the BigTime capacity planning software works well with Jira, the highly popular project management and issue tracking tool. With BigTime and Jira, team capacity planning is a harmonious comprehensive functionality. If you’re a fan of Jira and the things that it does, you don’t have to give up its project management capability or the internal processes you’ve built around Jira.

The two systems work together to synchronize active projects. It’s easy to pull data from Jira into BigTime. This information includes the active Jira projects and the issues from Jira’s widely admired issue tracking facility. BigTime can assign staff to Jira issues as well as projects and tasks. You can take advantage of the famous project management ability of Jira right alongside the adept capacity planning and tracking benefits that come from BigTime.

Managers and team members can work in whichever system they find most comfortable. Wherever data is inputted, it’s shared between the packages so that there’s no redundant entry. Jira has its own reporting capability, but you can use BigTime’s flexible tool to report Jira project status along with BigTime budget tracking.

What Is Capacity Planning in Operations Management?

Capacity planning has both a planning aspect and an operations aspect. Project resource management tools and techniques include the things you do before an actual project gets started. Examples are determining if you have the staff capacity to complete the project on time, assigning resources to the project work and setting up the initial list of project tasks and assigned personnel.

In the actual oversight of the project, capacity planning tools in operations management come into play. They enable you to get out in front of potential problems and add or reallocate staff if needed. They provide that data that shows you if your staffing decisions are correct so you can adjust them if necessary.

Effective operations capacity planning is characterized by transparency and accountability. With a tool such as BigTime, it’s clear who’s supposed to be doing what and when as well as whose responsibility it is to make sure that happens. Capacity planning and monitoring ensure that critical path tasks have the priority and the staffing they need.

Information is power in capacity planning and management, and the best resource management tools tell you everything you need to keep the project on track. They make it easy to do the staff adjustments that are required to guarantee tasks move forward toward meeting project deadlines.