You have a well-structured, organized CRM that allows you to have good visibility on your current and future sales and what actions must be taken by your sales team to complete the current opportunities.
You have a project management tool that allows you to follow the progress of your current projects, assign tasks to your various resources, plan delivery dates, hours and budgets invested, etc.
But, you have difficulty predicting the current and future workload of your various resources or according to their expertise in order to plan your capacity to take on new mandates and new clients? You ask yourself “Will you have to start a recruitment process if 2-3 additional mandates were won in the next month… or is the team able to deliver without having worked evenings and weekends? “.
At Cofinia, we had exactly the same challenge!
Zoho Projects and Resource Scheduling
The Zoho Projects project management app is a collaborative tool that manages more than just the projects you do for your clients. To get the details of these features, we invite you to read our blog post on the subject, ” Project management, key features of Zoho Projects “.
Among these features, Zoho Projects offers a reports module that allows you to have a bird’s eye view of your business, from all of your activities and drill to analyze several dimensions (projects, expertise, resources, events, etc.) depending on the configuration that has been made. One of the very interesting reports is the use of resources which makes it possible to evaluate the level of workload of each one according to the data which is present within all the projects in progress.
That being said, let’s be honest, in reality, there are very few companies that have the capacity, the time and the rigor to update all tasks, deadlines, for all projects and for all resources. Unless a few projects are not 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 element and task of my Zoho Projects and investing a lot of time each week to ensure that my colleagues had collected all the information for each new task (impossible!) or find an alternative solution that would take 20% of the time needed to obtain at least 80% of the data quickly.
Capacity planning (or capacity planning)
The solution that we have developed consists of creating a project in itself that includes all the projects in progress and that allows you to view at a glance which resource or expertise is under or over used according to the different mandates in progress.
By using milestones as projects and tasks as expertise and assignments to team members, we are able to combine the various relevant information to effectively plan our mandates. More so, we have the possibility to add the most probable opportunities to be concluded in the next months in order to evaluate the real capacity to deliver.
At the same time, we can include recurring or administrative elements that deserve to be considered in the time plan, such as meetings, continuing education activities, not forgetting holidays and vacations.
The recipe for success when implementing a tool like capacity planning is to plan the project structure well from the start and identify a manager who will have the rigor to keep it up to date. Initially, it might take a few hours to set up, but once you’ve done this, you’ll only need to invest 1-2 hours every week or two to keep it up to date.
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Benefits of planning workload capacity
We are not teaching you anything by emphasizing that the relationship you have with your customers is your best business card for retaining them. A satisfied customer who talks about you to those around them is of infinite value to your business. It is much less expensive to keep customers than to find new ones, we too often forget that.
What determines your customer’s satisfaction? By a multitude of factors, of course. But one of the most important elements remains communication and managing expectations. If you communicate to your client that “yes, absolutely, we can deliver the project in the next 2 weeks” without really knowing the capacity of the team, you run the risk of having to put pressure on them to deliver or disappoint your client by postponing 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 reassured and prefer to wait a few days or even a few weeks so that you have the capacity to take his project.
In the current context of labor shortage where recruiting resources is particularly difficult for most companies, it is essential to plan the recruitment process in advance in order to hire on time. Even more, planning gives your resources time to plan their schedules and not have a false sense of urgency.
The capacity planning allows us to identify the places where the workload will overflow and to identify possible solutions; reassigning tasks within the team, training colleagues to add capacity or hiring new resources.
It is also a decision-making aid for planning vacations, ensuring that projects will be delivered on time, that at least one resource per expertise remains available to respond to emergencies and that people who remain at work do not are not struggling with deliverables of which they do not know the content.
Organizing and managing change
From experience, when setting up a resource workload planning project, we have 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 setting up a capacity management tool, who has the best project management skills, how management can support the initiative: these questions help us to improve our processes, our working methods and the organization of daily life.
However, the effort that this will require should not be overlooked. Communication with our customers is as important as it is within the company. Seeking to obtain global visibility on the company’s projects may make some people uncomfortable, feeling “watched”. A change management approach is important to make clear the objectives, the expected results of such an exercise.
Need a capacity plan?
At Cofinia, we are constantly working to find innovative, inexpensive 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 to see more clearly.
After having implemented it with several customers and having tested 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 so that we can discuss your specific needs? Make an appointment directly with our project management and planning specialists:
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