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The Capacity Quadrant: Four Keys to Improved Resource Planning

Organizations often cite resource management as their most overwhelming challenge. Despite the best-laid plans, they just can’t get a handle on getting the right people available at the right time. Because of this, they sometimes resist taking on new projects and products for fear of the ability to deliver. Or worse, they take on unlimited demand, managing as if they have infinite capacity. Improved resource planning seems impossible.

These organizations need a clear picture of resource availability to confidently take on new projects and react to sudden market opportunities. Otherwise, valuable resources are wasted or misused.

While there’s no silver bullet for capacity planning and resource management, there are four distinct dynamics that can greatly improve success and help an organization become proactive instead of reactive. Together, these dynamics make up what we can call The Capacity Quadrant. The four components that make up this framework are:

  • Visibility: This includes improving visibility across three lenses, those of Demand, Capacity, and finally, the System lens (i.e., using a systems thinking approach to identify the many variables that can impact resource workload, efficiency, and productivity).
  • Prioritization: This requires understanding organizational goals and priorities, creating flexible scoring mechanisms that can encompass all discretionary work (not just large projects), and awareness of the linkages between projects and products on the roadmap.
  • Optimization: Here you can maximize your resources by focusing them on the most critical work; limiting the volume of primary demand objectives; tightening the resources on secondary objectives; and addressing efficiency issues identified during the whole system analysis.
  • Iteration: This involves planning capacity and demand at varying levels of detail at different points in the planning horizon. Early on, top-down high level plans are appropriate, with more detailed planning occurring as the work approaches. The two views should be reconciled during each planning iteration.

In essence, by understanding the four key dynamics that impact capacity planning, organizations can demystify resource management, make more informed decisions, and maximize their resources toward high value activities.

Stay tuned for an upcoming white paper on this topic, where I’ll be exploring the Capacity Quadrant in more detail.

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Jerry Manas
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Jerry Manas is an internationally best-selling author, speaker, and consultant. He is frequently cited by leading voices in the world of business, including legendary management guru Tom Peters (“In Search of Excellence”), who often references Manas’s bestselling book Napoleon on Project Management for its insights on simplicity and character, and Pat Williams, Senior VP of the Orlando Magic, who called Manas’s book Managing the Gray Areas “a new path for leaders.” Jerry’s latest book is The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook (McGraw-Hill), which Judith E. Glaser, noted author of Conversational Intelligence, touted as “the first book dedicated to what is essentially the drivetrain of organizations—the effective use of its people toward its most important activities.” Through his consulting company, The Marengo Group, Jerry helps clients maximize their organizational people resources, leading to a grater capacity to innovate, a more value-focused workforce, and an increased ability to adapt to change. He is a popular speaker at events around the world, speaking on lessons from history, resource planning, organizational change, and other topics. Jerry’s work has been highlighted in a variety of publications, including the Houston Chronicle, Chicago Sun Times, National Post, Globe and Mail, Huffington Post, and others.