Resource capacity planning is the art of successfully juggling with resource supply and project demands. Much to the peril of most managers, it is easier said than done, given the fact that demand shifts are dynamic and data on supply can hardly catch up even when demand positions are quite clear.
Within the engineering space, volatile market shifts play a significant role, which means companies have an added pressure to optimize processes in order to stay lean and draw sustainable profits. On top of this, the inability to accurately predict resource requirements has led to last minute hiring and firing of resources and have proven to be a burden for companies.
Here are a few tips with which Engineering firms can sharpen their resource capacity planning processes.
1. Calculate resource capacity
As obvious as it sounds, the first step of successful resource capacity planning is calculating resource capacity and having complete visibility of all the resources that you are equipped with. This includes knowing how many full-timers, part-timers, freelancers, contract employees you have and having full access to their weekly/ daily schedules. It also helps to have a competency level breakup of their skillsets as well (more on that in our point below).
Finding out your Full-time Equivalents (FTE) is another facet of resource capacity planning. FTE is the hours worked by one employee on a full-time basis. So for example, one full-time employee equals 1 FTE. This value, as an individual count is an accurate measure to forecast demand too as it lets you compare project requirements with a unified measure.
2. Create a skill inventory
Engineering managers in project environments can benefit from tracking skills instead of positions for successful resource capacity planning. The actionable item here is to draw a comparison between your demand forecast and your staff inventory to spot potential shortages or excesses of engineering skills before going on to hire/fire. It also helps if you draw plans to restructure, reallocate and train resources to suit new demands.
For example, if 6 of your 8 engineers are ‘senior mechanical engineers’, but only 2 of them are aerodynamics experts, it doesn’t help allocating the other 4 on your new airplane remodeling project, although they share their designation. Niche allocation is a key factor to building your brand identity specialty when it comes to delivery outcomes.
3. Forecast. Forecast. Forecast.
With complete visibility of your capacity levels, you can now go on to forecast your demands in more detail. This is really the crux of diligent resource capacity planning. Forecast your resources in comparison to work demand in detail. Start by breaking down ongoing projects and pipeline projects on the basis of core tasks, through which you can also see resource requirements, dependencies and risks involved. Now you can divide the roles and responsibilities that are required to fulfill the task demands and also determine the skill sets required.
So if your on-going renovation project needs 100% commitment of your core architecture team, but you only have 50% availability, you have to choose one of the following solutions.
A. Request for timeline extension
B. Reallocate/ hire more hands and make sure 100% availability is there.
C. Postpone the project until you reach appropriate capacity.
Each situation impacts resource demand differently and thus changes the course of project budget/timelines. But when you know the course of this action, a few months in advance, it can make a world of difference to your resource capacity planning process.
Is your resource capacity planning process fulfilling the above criteria or does it encompass a different strategy? If you think you are not giving it the importance it deserves, the right Resource Management tool is a click away. Saviom gives you enterprise-wide project visibility and accurate FTE allocation options. Generate reports, schedule-reschedule on the go, track individual skill sets and competency levels of employees and achieve more projects with lesser resources.
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