Chart out Your Staff 'Capacity' with This Handy Tool


"Capacity Planning" is most often discussed in terms of I/O bandwidth for networked storage or desktop virtualization.


But the "capacity planning" that most often determines the success - or failure - of a project is your ability to smartly assign the right people to the right tasks, and at the right time. And it's never just one project. You always have numerous clients to please and multiple deadlines to meet, but only a few key team members to get the work done.


The Capacity Planning Worksheet for Multiple Projects, from our partners at Papercut Project Monitoring, helps you estimate the scheduling interdependencies of up to five projects. The Excel-based tool, which is available for free download here in the IT Downloads library, graphs out the planned commitments of your team members, as you can see in the image below.



The tool asks you to fill in some general assumptions about how projects are staffed in your shop across the four phases of the standard waterfall methodology: requirements, design, build and test.


The example graph above assumes the following durations for each of the phases:


Requirements: 25 percent

Design: 15 percent

Build: 20 percent

Test: 40 percent


If your shop is perhaps a little more iterative in term of testing, you can adjust these values to fit your practices. You can also set the percentage of their time your business analysts, developers and testers tend to spend on a project.


With those assumptions set, you then input the duration of your projects and the staffing level you'll need for each and the assumed start dates. The spreadsheet presents your assumptions in a Gantt-like model, as you can see in the figure below.



The graph we showed you earlier automatically updates with all these values. If any curve goes above the black "capacity line," you are going to be asking somebody to work some overtime.


Of course, not all projects require the same level of testing or biz req definition. The estimates you'll get from this tool are just that - estimates. But this nifty Excel-based tool is still a great starting point for evaluating your staffing needs for the next quarter.

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