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Capacity management best practice

Managing resources across multiple projects can be a rollercoaster ride. The challenge is to keep your resource capacity closely matching the skills demanded by your projects. Striking the right balance is difficult. Whilst there must be sufficient skills available to ensure that each project commitment will be met, having spare bodies hanging around ’just in case’ will reduce utilisation levels and erode operational profits. Capacity management best practice helps to resolve these conflicting objectives.

A Forward loading report, colour coded to highlight periods of resource bottlenecks and spare capacity. Drill down through Department links highlights all corners of the organisation

For those operating in dynamic, changing markets, projects can demand resources with new skills and experience capability. Capacity management best practice highlights the implications of such shifts in demand patterns. Use of ‘What if…?’ modelling will then show the extent to which  re-training, hiring and maybe even planned redundancy programmes, will be required to keep the skills capacity in step with changing patterns of demand.

Resource data requirements

With the technical complexity of projects increasing across all industry sectors, project managers are having to specify more precisely the skills and competency levels needed, task by task, for successful project delivery. The data that resource managers need to know about their teams of project resources is expanding, to include each person’s:

  • Role, Discipline or Team, which is often used as the summary level in capacity management
  • Skill sets, each with a competency or grade level, e.g. Mechanical Engineer (Intermediate), Construction Manager (Advanced), etc.
  • Industry sector experience, and
  • relevant qualifications and certifications, with expiry dates.

Organising such data as a skills matrix helps both project and resource managers to have early warning of capacity management issues, as new projects arrive.

Most multi-project businesses have a matrix organisation, where project managers are responsible for the delivery of individual projects and resource managers supply the required project resources. Senior managers will be concerned that shortages of suitable staff will not jeopardise any project commitments, by implementing sound demand management and resource allocation processes. Capacity management best practice should be a key component of these.

Barry Muir is a Director of Innate Management Systems Ltd. We have been implementing resource management software in a wide variety of professional services organizations for more than 20 years.
Posted in resource management

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