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Complete Guide To Workload Capacity Planning: How To & Tools

Many businesses face capacity planning issues. Not only is capacity planning an issue that affects a business’s bottom line, but it also affects the morale of employees and the quality of service they provide to customers.

In this post, I will explore how you can use capacity planning to eliminate these problems and help you create a better work environment for your team!

In this article

What is Workload Capacity Planning?

Workload capacity planning is a management process that determines the best number and type of staff necessary to handle the workload for an organization.

You can use capacity planning reports to determine capacity by department and individual employee and across the entire organization.

Why Workload Planning is Important

There are many reasons why capacity planning (workload planning) is important. For one, it helps the business determine how much work they can take on without impacting their bottom line or quality of service. In addition to this, capacity planning also helps ensure that employees have a positive working environment and feel valued in their jobs.

When you aren’t correctly managing your capacity plans over time, this can lead to a high turnover rate as employees feel overworked and undervalued.

The Purpose of Workload Capacity Planning

The capacity planner’s goal is to help the organization determine how many employees are required and which type of skills they should have. The capacity planner also tries to create a workload capacity plan that will allow for predictable work hours, shared responsibility among staff members, and better capacity management overall.

Workload Capacity Planning and Project Management

Capacity planning is an essential component of project planning. It helps determine how much capacity there will be to complete all tasks and when those resources should become available.

Resource planning is another crucial component of resource capacity planning. Organizations can use capacity requirements to help plan for upcoming projects and set the necessary level of staffing required.

Another way that capacity planners might work is by creating a perfect workload balance matrix, which helps make sure there’s always enough capacity available without overworking employees. You can do this by using a capacity management tool.

How Workload Capacity Planning Works

In capacity planning, analysts identify the capacity needed for each event. These events may be an office move or a major product launch. Still, this process applies to any organization facing capacity issues and wants to create better workload management practices.

What Effective Workload Capacity Planning Looks Like

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

  • The workload capacity is based on both demand and capacity for staff.
  • Its quantitative, historical data will justify any changes in staffing requirements over time.
  • Staffing needs are updated as conditions change.
  • You eliminate excessive workload capacity, and the amount of time to complete one event or task remains relatively constant over time.
  • You can calculate project capacity with a degree of accuracy that meets key stakeholder requirements.

Prevent Problems with Effective Workload Capacity Planning

Some of the capacity planning issues that you can prevent with effective capacity plans are as follows:

  • High staff turnover rates
  • Talent tech gap
  • Employees feeling overworked and undervalued in their jobs
  • Poor customer service due to poor resource management practices, which leads to damaging the company’s reputation. This also creates a negative work environment for employees.
  • Higher rates of errors and accidents due to overworked staff members.

The Basic Steps of Workload Capacity Planning

There are three steps to capacity planning.

  1. Identify capacity needs. These are events that are happening in the future, and you’ll need capacity for those events.
  2. Determine resource availability and capacity. These are resources that are available now and can be used to complete capacity needs.
  3. Create a capacity plan with the correct number of staff members needed for each event or task that they will be assigned to cover. Include detailed information about how many hours per day employees can work and their skill set.

Gather Your Resources Before You Start Workload Capacity Planning

When planning your team’s workload capacity, there are certain resources and information you need. For example, you’ll need to know your capacity and resource availability, which you can gather through capacity planning software.

You may also want to understand the workload capacity rates for different tasks so that you can better allocate resources accordingly. This includes gathering any data or reports requested from other departments or groups within the company.

If capacity planners want to succeed, they should gather the appropriate information and resources before beginning workload capacity planning. They will need capacity plans to determine capacity needs and resource availability.

Techniques for Workload Capacity Planning

The best techniques for workload capacity planning should be based on both demand and capacity.

The capacity planner must have the necessary skills to conduct this process effectively. They need knowledge of how many hours employees can work per day, different types of skill sets, and what type of resources you will need for the workload capacity plan.

The capacity planner has many techniques they can choose from, such as the critical path method, which involves identifying which tasks take more time than others or that are dependent on other tasks in order to complete an event.

You could also use the PERT method to help them with their capacity planning by combining a few techniques and determining which ones are most effective for each project.

The capacity planner might also want to figure out how much time is needed to complete an event or task, as well as what type of resources will be needed.

Your capacity planner could also use the four pillars matrix to determine capacity needs and resources available for each event or task. This will help them create a capacity plan that is accurate and effective.

Here are some additional techniques:

  1. Performance monitoring: This technique can measure capacity levels and project how much capacity you will need in the future.
  2. Workload stacking: Use this resource scheduling technique to calculate the capacity needed for a future event or task.
  3. Simulation modeling: This capacity planning technique is used to create a workload capacity plan and test it out before implementing.
  4. Analytical modeling: Use this capacity planning technique to compare capacity and workload levels with different types of events or tasks.

The Best Workload Capacity Planning Technique for Your Project

You can tell which capacity planning technique is best by considering the capacity planner’s skills and the type of task they’re planning.

You should include these in the team’s workload capacity plan to ensure a level playing field among staff members and better resource management practices overall, as well as an effective working environment.

Benefits Of Workload Capacity Planning

The benefits of capacity planning techniques include the following:

  • Predicting more accurate capacity needs
  • Equipping staff members with the tools they need to perform their jobs effectively and efficiently, which improves morale as well as customer service (this also reduces workplace burnout)
  • Preventing higher capacity levels so that staff members don’t feel overworked and undervalued in their jobs
  • Minimizing the risk of errors or accidents due to workers being overworked
  • Better customer service, which improves the company’s reputation as well as employees’ work environment with increased morale

Resource Management Software Can Help with Workload Capacity Planning

Read more about the resource management software on this list here.

Workload Capacity Planning Is An Ongoing Practice

Keeping your resources and work capacity in check has many upsides. Once your company is allocating its resources wisely, it’ll reap the benefits in no time.

For more information on workload capacity planning in project management, subscribe to The Digital Project Manager newsletter.

Related Read: Capacity Planning For Every PM: Strategies + Complete How To

By Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of I've been in the industry for more than 15 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from film to CMS', games to advertising and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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