You have a well-structured, organized CRM that gives you great visibility into your current and upcoming sales and what actions need to be taken by your sales team to complete current opportunities.
You have a project management tool that allows you to track your ongoing projects, assign tasks to your various resources, schedule delivery dates, hours and budgets invested, etc.
Do you have difficulty predicting the current and future workload of your various resources or their expertise in order to plan ahead in terms of your ability to take on new mandates and new clients? You ask yourself “Should you start a recruitment process if 2-3 additional mandates are gained in the next month… or is the team able to deliver without working nights and weekends?
Cofinia had exactly the same challenge!
Zoho Projects and Resource Planning
The Zoho Projects project management app is a collaborative tool that allows you to manage much more than your projects. To learn more about these features, please read our blog post on the subject, “Project management, key features of Zoho Projects“.
Among these features, Zoho Projects offers a report module that allows you to have a bird’s eye view of your company, starting from all your activities and drill down to analyze several dimensions (projects, expertise, resources, events, etc.) depending on your configuration. One of the most interesting reports is the use of resources, which allows you to evaluate the level of workload of each person according to the data present in all the projects in progress.
That being said, let’s be honest, in reality, there are very few companies that have the capacity, time and rigor to update all tasks, deadlines, for all projects and for all resources. Unless some projects are updated correctly and systematically, the resource utilization report loses its reliability.
This was precisely our challenge at Cofinia and as a project manager, I had the choice between taking hours and hours to update each item and task in my Zoho Projects and investing a lot of time each week to make sure my colleagues had collected every piece of information for each new task (impossible!) or finding an alternative solution that would take 20% of the time needed to get at least 80% of the data quickly.
The solution we developed consists of creating a project which includes all current projects and allows you to see at a glance which resource or expertise is being under or overused according to the various current mandates.
By using milestones as projects and tasks as expertise and assignment to team members, we are able to gather relevant information to effectively plan our mandates. Moreover, we have the ability to add opportunities that are most likely to be closed in the next few months in order to assess the actual capacity to deliver.
We can also include recurring or administrative elements that deserve to be considered in the time planning, such as meetings, continuing education activities, and of course, holidays and vacations.
The key to success when implementing a tool like capacity planning is to properly plan the structure of the project at the beginning and to identify a person who will be responsible for keeping it up to date. Initially, it may take a few hours to set up, but once this is done, you will only need to invest 1 to 2 hours every week or two to keep it up to date.
Benefits of Planning Workload Capacity
We are not teaching you anything new when we say that the relationship you have with your customers is your best business card for building loyalty. A satisfied customer who talks about you to his friends and family is extremely valuable for your company. It is far less expensive to keep your customers than to find new ones, we often forget that.
What goes into making your customer happy? A multitude of factors, of course. But one of the most important elements is communication and expectation management. If you tell your client that “yes, absolutely, we can deliver the project in the next 2 weeks” without really knowing the capacity of the team, you risk putting pressure on them to deliver or disappointing your client by extending the deadline. A client who sees that you have a global vision of your current and future projects and that you are able to deliver according to a defined schedule, will be relieved and will prefer to wait a few days or even a few weeks so that you have the capacity to take on their project.
In today’s labor shortage context where recruiting resources is particularly difficult for most companies, it is essential to plan the recruitment process ahead of time in order to be able to hire on time. More importantly, planning ahead allows your resources time to plan their schedule and not have a false sense of urgency.
Capacity planning allows us to identify where the workload will overflow and to identify possible solutions; reallocation of tasks within the team, training of colleagues to add capacity or hiring new resources.
It also helps in planning vacations, ensuring that projects are delivered on time, that at least one resource per expertise remains available to respond to emergencies, and that those who remain on the job are not saddled with deliverables they don’t know about.
Structure and Manage Change
From experience, when implementing a resource workload planning project, we need to ask ourselves several questions about our management processes. How do we want to work on a day-to-day basis, how do we interact as a team, who are the best people to participate in the implementation of a capacity management tool, who has the best project management skills, how can management support the initiative: these questions help us refine our processes, work methods and day-to-day organization.
However, we must not neglect the effort that this will require. Communication with our customers is as important as it is internally. Seeking global visibility on the company’s projects may make some people uncomfortable, feeling “watched”. A change management approach is important to clarify the goals and expected results of such exercises.
Need Capacity Planning?
Cofinia is constantly looking for innovative, low-cost solutions that can be adapted to the specific context of each company. We had a resource planning issue and implemented this tool in our organization in order to see things more clearly.
After implementing it with several clients and testing it in our organization, we are convinced of its usefulness.
We can help you see more clearly too!
Would you like to schedule a short consultation to discuss your specific needs? Make an appointment directly with our project management and planning specialists: