#4 & #5 Characteristics of Mature Organizations in the Areas of Capacity Planning and Resource Management
I’m back to uncover two more characteristics shown by organizations that have mature capacity planning and resource management practices in place. A research study identified common features of best performing companies in these areas. These attributes can be used by you and your organization to improve planning, meet incoming demand, and ensure maximum productivity and optimization of finite resources.
If you missed the first two blogs in this series, I invite you to look back at The Six Characteristics of Mature Organizations and Impact on Time-to-Market: Part 1 and The Six Characteristics of Mature Organizations and Impact on Time-to-Market: Part 2.
Let’s touch on #4 and #5 now.
Organizations that excel at capacity planning and resource management:
- Have insight into what people are working on, can identify bottlenecks, and run scenarios on-demand to adapt to change
- Meld top-down with bottom-up approaches to capacity planning and resource management
- Have a dedicated function to run resource management and capacity planning activities
- Agree on these top best practices: prioritization; what-if analysis; executive buy-in
- Estimate projects well and have good supporting processes in place
- Use project portfolio management software to optimize their resources
Characteristic #4: Agree on these top best practices: prioritization; what-if analysis; executive buy-in.
Prioritization: There are finite resources at your disposal and in a perfect world they are working productively on the organization’s highest value opportunities. But are they?
According to the research, mature organizations have put prioritization and strategic alignment as top best practices. They have a signpost or a map to get to where they want to go and all roads (and resource assignments) lead back to their priorities. Lower maturity organizations are having a hard time focusing with basic blocking and tackling. This leads to business risk of lost productivity due to poorly optimized resources. If strategic priorities are not clear, this is an area for immediate focus, otherwise resources will continually be over-committed, underutilized, or assigned to the wrong, low priority product.
What-If Scenarios: If we only operated in static environment! But we don’t. In fact, nearly 50% of respondents claimed their top pain point is constant change, affecting resource assignments and availability. The ability to run what-if scenarios to adapt to change is paramount. Imagine your top competitor announces a surprise seasonal product that will have new features. Do you press ahead and launch it? Modeling this scenario is a difficult and sometimes an impossible task with spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are often static and unintegrated with data existing in silos and often requiring weeks of modification and analysis to understand the impact of changes to resources and projects. More mature organizations invest in tools and solutions that allow them to capture data centrally to run on-demand scenarios to analyze the opportunities and consequences of changes to resources on various projects. This helps with better, agile decision making in a fluid environment.
Executive Buy-In: More mature organizations establish buy-in from top executives to invest in the people, process, and tools for more effective capacity planning and resource management. When the initiative is driven from core leadership, the benefits appear quicker because applying these tools and processes is done cross-functionally from the beginning versus in pockets in the organization. In a shared resource environment, (in which more than 80% of participants of the study work) making the changes across the organization and having executive buy-in makes all the difference. That does not mean all change needs to happen at once but it is strengthened and accelerated with clear executive support. I recommend speaking in executive terms (revenue enhancement and time to market) when championing these causes.
Characteristic #5: Estimate projects well and have good supporting processes in place.
Scoping products and resources needed to deliver projects and products is part science, part art. Which brings me to the next two pain points in the research: organizations experience challenges when estimating for projects, and lack process maturity. Product organizations need common processes and tools for centralized data collection, and regular post-mortem reviews for commercializing a product using historical actuals. Without accurate estimates, things are murky, capacity planning is off, and important projects get inefficiently staffed. Missing time to market is a top risk and the one that can cause the greatest negative impact to revenue. It’s a vicious cycle. Improving project estimations takes work, but it is worth the investment and focus. The trick is to make it repeatable and embedded as a way of managing a product portfolio and resources.
For more information on this topic, download your copy of a new white paper from Carrie Nauyalis, new product development solution evangelist titled: Step by Step Guide: How to Move Up the Resource Management and Capacity Planning Maturity Scale.
I’d like to hear from you. How are you currently managing resource management and capacity planning in your organization and do you have a dedicated resource management function? Share you experience by leaving a comment below.