Efficient project management is more than resource allocation. You need to have the right resource planning tools, resource management tools, and techniques; and those techniques have to rely on reliable input. It’s all about solving the following problems:

Project planning and prioritizing—Project planning relies on the best scheduling and realistic budgeting. Resource allocation software can quantify the process with both actual and “what-if” scheduling aligned to realistic deadlines.

Understanding capacity and who is available to help with the project—You can ask a staff member “How’s it going on that project, and what else are you working on?” Or you could be able to say, “I see that you are coming along nicely with that project and have some hours you can dedicate to one due later.” You can do the latter with resource allocation software that tracks all that. Using a team capacity planning template is an added benefit to that process.

Looking down the road—If you can guarantee that all of your projects will be completed on time and under budget during the next week, month, quarter, or fiscal year, you can avoid over-allocating tasks and the risk of understaffing.

Coping with the unknown—Unpredictable events require the flexibility to change project planning at a moment’s notice. Resource management tools and techniques can track every task or milestone, which may or may not have its own set of dependencies. The best capacity planning software allows you to shift allocations and reallocate resources when unforeseen problems occur.

Keeping current--Graphs and charts provide the big picture in staying informed. Capacity planning software provides in seconds what could take hours of project progress research. An overview and status of every project that compares actual spending with projected budgets and how each staff member is progressing can give you an instant snapshot in time to react to the above-mentioned dependency glitches.

Capacity Planning Tools In Operations Management

Operations management is where the rubber meets the road after the road has been mapped and cleared. BigTime’s tools for resource allocation have a capacity calculator and a capacity planning template. With capacity planning tools in operations management, you can do the following:

Project staffers report hours allocated and completed. Armed with that data, managers know which staffers can be called on to work on upcoming projects. Often, a project cannot continue unless some dependent tasks are completed. That two-way communication minimizes employee turnover and keeps staff engaged and happy with a reasonable and predictable workload.

Match employee skills with job requirements. Each project requires its own special skill and role. Locating the right staff member with the skills set is the key to planning for success. You rate each staffer on a scale of 1 to 5. BigTime’s Skills display provides an aerial view of each staff member’s rated proficiency in areas like project management, statistical analysis, and technical writing, to name a few. Staffers don’t have access to the BigTime Skills display, unless the manager wants to make them available as a counseling tool.

Make course corrections before it’s too late. The big picture for each project is available in BigTime’s Project Status graphs. Track the budget vs. actual spending and see how key members are coming along with their end of the project. Compare your planned/estimated budgeting and personnel resources to actual consumption/hours and reallocate as required.

Hire new staffers based on data-driven decisions. A centralized view of staff capacity along with available utilization metrics by department, role, or staffer, are just the tickets to making the best hiring decisions. BigTime reporting settings help you build customized and bespoke planning tools for resource management.

Capacity Planning Tools Free

You can find many Excel templates, either as free offerings online or through subscription services. Essentially, for every capacity planning requirement, there is an Excel-based worksheet that will perform one or more aspects of the big job. Those products are either available for free download or through subscription services.

The following are examples of Excel's best capacity managing tools and templates and their applications:

  • Capacity planning tool Excel template—Estimates demand, determines capacity so that users can take the necessary actions. These templates are available for project and IT managers and can be used by Agile team leaders.
  • Human Resources Capacity Planning—Provides an overview of human resources an organization will require to ensure timely project delivery. This template also generates a pivot table view.
  • Project capacity planning—Anticipates resource requirements for a project and ensures that essential skill sets and resources are available.
  • Team capacity planning template—Includes a task table and a roster of employees assigned to tasks. This template gives a dashboard-style insight into the team’s project assignments and can project future capacity requirements for the business.

Other templates include Agile resource capacity planning templates for Software Development. Also, a Scrum capacity planning template can be used as a part of Agile Resource planning. Scrum employs incremental software development processes and uses cross-function teams to adapt to changes and meet overall project goals.

Each of the above Excel tools requires moderate-to-advanced knowledge of Excel spreadsheet design. They are essentially mini-applications, and each must be tailored for local use. So, they are labor intensive and require in-depth knowledge of capacity planning, requiring the user to connect the dots when more than one Excel resource is required. Spreadsheets also have the disadvantage of being “wide and deep” and rely on meticulous data entry and careful attention to spreadsheet programming functions to avoid data corruption.

Capacity Planning Tools Microsoft

As another choice for capacity planning tools, Microsoft project resource management offers a number of tools and solutions. They cover a wide range of capabilities, from the flagship application Microsoft Project down to the Microsoft Planner. Microsoft also offers Agile capacity planning tools and features and can be synched with capacity planning tools Jira employs.

Here is a quick rundown of capacity planning tools Microsoft offers:

Microsoft Project Resource Manager has been around for over 20 years. This project management software is for managers who want to develop a schedule, assign resources to tasks, track progress, manage a budget, and analyze workloads. Often referred to as the “800-pound gorilla” standout in a jungle of lightweight challengers, this application has a dazzling array of reports, generates charts and complex graphs and top-level budget management. Running Microsoft Project resource management requires a singular dedication, and is not for those who prefer a clean and simple work product.

Microsoft Planner is a basic planning application on the Microsoft 365 cloud platform. It is a web-based tool for work management, and handles smaller projects without much planning effort. Planner is essentially a teamwork-oriented tool that incorporates shared files, team coordination, and organization. You can assemble and assign tasks, communicate and collaborate with other users all in one place.

Microsoft Team Planner is a basic tool for users of Microsoft Teams. With Microsoft Team Planner, you can organize tasks by adding tabs to a team channel. Using the additional tab, you can work on the plan from within Teams or on the web. You can delete or remove your plan and be notified in Teams when a new task is added to your workload.

Agile tools Microsoft features are found in both Azure DevOps and the Microsoft Project application. Azure lacks built-in project roadmaps (discussed below), and does not have a comprehensive agile reporting tool making teams accessible to dozens of reports.

Sprint Capacity Calculator

BigTime is an official Jira application. IT service firms can take advantage of BigTime’s syncs with Jira for time and budget tracking. With its Sprint Capacity calculator, Jira tracks the fixed time period allocated to development cycles for teams. Inherent in the process of software development are the inevitable backlogs. Agile development involves capacity planning with story points.

A user story is an important Agile software development tool. Teams meet at the outset and decide on a description of their software feature(s) from the perspective of the user. The story includes a professional profile of prospective users, what they want, and why they want it. The best story captures the anecdotal essence of what the user is looking for. Its best outcome is a meeting of the minds between the software product owner and the development team.

Jira’s Agile User Story Mapping is the “big-picture” way to manage your software user needs from the user’s perspective and requirements, and to schedule development plans and releases in a transparent timeline. Capacity planning story points are the milestones in hours a development team can complete. Capacity refers to a maximum of six issues related to the story. Jira enables capacity management in the story timeline and calculates the teams’ capacity for both Agile teams, like Scrum and Kanban.

BigTime’s IT infrastructure capacity planning template tools for Jira close the loop by helping software development teams do their capacity planning and invoicing. Integrating Jira with BigTime is the ideal way to avoid the error-prone double-data entry. Synchronizing data already entered into Jira maintains the functionality of Jira, while aligning and using the IT infrastructure planning template with your Agile planning process.

The aforementioned alignment takes advantage of BigTime’s custom reporting capabilities. Agile planning staff can synch and monitor their project tasks and staff instantly and in an easy-to-understand and cleaner user interface.