Resources, capacity and the portfolio manager

Adele Bernard
September 5, 2013

When it comes to resource management and capacity planning, organisations, regardless of size, scope, or activity face critical challenges that they must address to optimise their resources and thus mitigate project delivery delays and overruns, quality issues, and, in the long term, negative bottom line impact.

The results of an in-depth study on resource management and capacity planning at project-based organisations are in. People are arguably the most valuable resources of any organisation: as such, the results of this study shed light on vital information for any organisation that commits human resources to deliver products, projects, and/or service engagements.

More than 600 executives and managers from around the globe and from a variety of functional areas including IT, product development, services and enterprise PMOs participated in the survey, making it one of the most comprehensive bodies of research on the matter.

Capacity pain points

By a wide margin, the top three pain points of resource management and capacity planning are: the impact of constant change (47%); lack of visibility into capacity (39%); and ineffective demand prioritisation (33%).

The report delves into the common causes of these pain points, details how they vary by maturity level (and do they ever!), and explores the best practices that mature organisations use to overcome them.

Additionally, 80% of study respondents indicated that they share resources across projects, teams, departments, and/or countries. This often results in those resources becoming overcommitted and misaligned, which can lead to project overruns, and resulting in revenue, cost, and quality issues.

Organisational risks

The top four equally rated risks identified by nearly half of all respondents were:

  1. Lost productivity due to poorly optimised resources
  2. Operating in crisis mode
  3. Not leveraging the best resources for the highest value projects; and
  4. Delayed time to market

One-third to half of the participants also identified significant business risks, such as limiting the ability to ‘connect the dots’ and leading to a failure to act of not addressing pain points with improved processes and the use of enterprise software.

Maturity: from chaos to control

In this survey, participants categorised their organisations by resource management and capacity planning maturity level. At the lowest maturity level, organisations are chaotically reacting without visibility into incoming demand; at the highest, they are exercising control in planning their resources strategically. By and large, those surveyed are early in their maturity: only one-third have achieved a high level of maturity when it comes to these activities and processes.

The survey shows a direct correlation between high resource management and capacity planning maturity levels and an organisation’s ability to plan, prioritise, and adapt to change. Not that high maturity should be mistaken for nirvana; while organisations at the higher maturity levels experience better visibility into capacity and demand, and therefore increased control over their resources, they do still feel pain, ironically this often arises from the enhanced insight they have achieved.

6 characteristics of mature organisations

Organisations that have moved from chaos to control in their resource management and capacity planning processes:

  1. Have insight into what people are working on, can identify bottlenecks, and run scenarios on-demand to adapt to change.
  2. Meld top-down with bottom-up approaches to capacity planning and resource management.
  3. Have a dedicated function to run resource management and capacity planning activities.
  4. Agree on these top three best practices: prioritisation; what-if analysis; executive buy-in.
  5. Estimate projects well and have good supporting processes in place.
  6. Use project portfolio management software to optimise their resources.

This report reveals just how much risk businesses take on when they don’t address resource management and capacity planning processes. “Do more with less” isn’t just a bad punchline anymore: it defines the competitive edge where project-based organisations prove their worth by optimising the capacity of their constrained resources.

But the outlook isn’t all so bleak. The study also reveals that for those organisations that embrace the opportunity to improve their resource management and capacity planning capabilities, there is tremendous upside in increasing their maturity, using the proven technique of modelling themselves on those higher up the scale by leveraging best practices, the right technology, and improved processes.

In this era of constrained resources—and have no doubt, it’s here to stay—the benefits of increasing productivity, maximising revenue, and cutting costs are worth the time and investment it takes to grow an organisation’s resource management and capacity planning maturity.

Download a free copy of the 2013 Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study report

Author avatar
Adele Bernard
Adele Bernard is the marketing manager for the Asia-Pacific region at Planview, a leading portfolio management software provider.
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