Resource Capacity Planning

Why is resource capacity planning different with agile? How should you start to approach it?

According to Gartner, 92% of Corporate Strategists state resource allocation as the biggest barrier to effective strategy execution. Effective utilisation of capacity can accelerate delivery by as much as 40%.  In the context of a 5 year strategy, this equates to achieving your goals 2 years faster.

Lean Portfolio Management offers the opportunity for organisations to move away from seeing this challenge as resources assigned to projects, and towards fungible capacity delivering value to your customers.

The problems with project-centric resourcing

Standing up the project
One of the biggest challenges with traditional capacity management is the loss of productivity that the “ramp-up-ramp-down” way of working causes. This way of working typically results in resource not operating at full capacity for the first part of the project. During these early stages, business cases are being written, teams get to know each other, working patterns are established and resources are onboarded. There is significant idling during this period

Knowledge ramp up
A further challenge with the project-centric model is knowledge ramp-up. As resources are onboarded, they must learn about the technical context, design, and objectives of the initiative. This ramp up occurs whether a resource is joining from within the organisation, or from outside the organisation (though joining from within the organisation may give them a head start). As we will see, value streams offer the opportunity to eliminate much of this productivity wastage.

No one left to measure success
Many organisations will be familiar with the challenge of post-project benefit realisation. One of the hardest things to establish is who's responsibility is it to measure success after the project has finished? As the cobwebs form on the project, this typically falls by the wayside.

The opportunity that value stream centric capacity management offers

By structuring the organisation around value streams, you establish a team of people continually focussed on delivering a specific type of value for your customers. The value stream becomes a river of expertise, beating to a predictable cadence, delivering continuous value to your customers. To read more about Value Streams and what they are, click here.

As an example, let’s assume that we have established a value stream called, “Mobile”. This value stream is responsible for delivering our mobile product(s)to our customers. With a dedicated a team of people containing all the skills required to deliver  this type of value to the customer, capacity management becomes about ensuring that you have an appropriately prioritised backlog of work items (outcomes) for the value stream to execute.

This carries significant benefits, as it eliminates the boom-bust nature of traditional projects, and replaces it with a smooth, predictable level of productivity, and a much simpler capacity management challenge.

The opportunity with value stream centric capacity management

Demand management & prioritisation

Value stream led resource capacity planning is only effective when combined with a robust demand management and prioritisation process. This process should flow from the strategy of the organisation, down the team level backlogs.

The diagram belows shows how to start thinking about this:


Estimation is one of the most important parts of the demand management process. Each outcome should be estimated by the team, in the context of the total capacity of the team. There are two important concepts to note here when providing estimation.

  1. Estimates should be deliberately high level. Try to avoid getting lost in the specifics. Kiplot allows organisations to use concepts like T-Shirt Sizing or Story Pointing (as a proxy for capacity) to help keep the estimate high level. Kiplot then translates these estimates back to hours/days to enable capacity management. Contact us to learn more or see a demo.

  2. Where it is not possible to estimate an outcome, teams should be encouraged to break the outcome down further such that it is sufficiently granular that high level estimation is possible.

Teams can use estimates applied to outcomes to prioritise and schedule work to ensure capacity challenges are mitigated, and capacity gaps are closed to achieve maximum utilisation.

Kiplot offers organisations the ability to seamlessly and continuously reprioritise outcomes to ensure strategy is being delivered as fast as possible, with the available capacity. Kiplot creates a unique connection between strategy, delivery and capacity.

With Kiplot, capacity management becomes seamlessly interwoven with prioritisation and value stream-centric delivery. The modern organisation must embrace continuous prioritisation as a growth enabler. This allows organisations to plan and commit with confidence, while eliminating resource idling and ensuring maximum utilisation and productivity.

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