3 Capacity Planning Tips for IT Teams


Planning for capacity with IT teams is an issue of supply and demand. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you how to plan your resources in this video.

Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference!

how to create a capacity plan

In Review – 3 Capacity Planning Tips for IT Teams

The first question to address when planning for capacity within an IT organization, Jennifer said, is whether or not you have the capacity, or the resources, to do the work. Do you have the capacity, do you need the capacity, and what is the gap between those two points?

Regardless of the situation, you’re going to remain in the dark unless you have a way to measure and track these resources, such as a resource management tool. Only then can you make an educated decision on capacity planning.

It’s a matter of supply and demand. Do you have the resources or do you not? Those resources can be people, which can maybe be acquired from other projects that are cancelled. If it’s skill, then there’s training to close the gap.

What’s the Difference Between Capacity and Resource Planning?

While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same. The process is different. To understand the differences, Jennifer listed them.

Capacity Planning

  • It’s a planning process designed to help you determine if the organization has enough people resources according to skill sets.
  • It looks at the availability of those resources at the skill set/team level.
  • Then it facilitates the decision-making process to hire resources or defer/approve/cancel projects.
  • Capacity planning is about supply and demand.

Resource Planning

  • It’s a planning process that coordinates and allocates actual resources to projects based on skills required.
  • It provides a plan to project managers, which resources they can plan to use for their projects and when.
  • Resource planning is people resource utilization.

Capacity Planning Checklist

Jennifer offered a short checklist for high-level capacity planning.

  1. Establish Cross-Functional Team: To collaborate and communicate about resources, as you’re looking across different projects or programs, you want a cross-functional team with different levels and different functions.
  2. Calculate Resource Capacity: Before you can plan, you need to have an idea of what you’re working with, which is why it’s important to note the gap between what you want and what you need, and then figure out how to narrow it.
  3. Determine Resources Required by the Project: For each project, look at the scope and what resources are required to do the task for the project.
  4. Prioritize Projects: Which projects are most important, and which can be put aside for the time being? You can’t do everything at once.
  5. Allocate Resources Based on Project Priority: Now allocate those prioritized projects and make sure that they are aligned with the goals of the organization.

Tips for Capacity Planning

Finally, Jennifer shared the top-3 tips she uses when capacity planning.

  1. Keep the lines of communications open between executives, project management leaders and stakeholders
  2. Document known risks (such as union strikes, weather, government regulations) that stop a project or create new ones unexpectedly
  3. Plan for how to handle too much capacity (where is it and how to resolve it, such as reassigning) or not enough capacity (again, where/how)

Pro-Tip: Jennifer added a bonus tip, which is to use a project management software to manage your capacity planning. If you’re using PM software, you don’t want to have to acquire and learn a new system. That’s why it’s best if you can find one robust enough to handle all your needs.


Today, we’re talking about three capacity planning tips for IT teams, where over the years, in doing capacity planning for IT organizations, there was always this one question we were asking, “Do we have the capacity to do this work?”

So basically, we were looking at capacity according to resources, people resources in this case. We have this capacity and we need this capacity to do the projects.

So basically, we’re looking at a supply and demand situation. We wanna look at what is the gap. We wanna determine do we have too many resources in the organization or do we not have enough?

Well, sometimes, when we look at people resources, we could look at maybe we’ve had, you know, several canceled projects for some reason. Maybe we wanna keep a binge of certain resources on our projects for when we need them.

But also if we don’t have enough people resources, it could be that maybe there’s a skill gap. We need to do some training or we need to do some sourcing.

And maybe, there are just too many projects going on at one time, therefore, we don’t have enough people. So, we want to measure and track this so we can get good insights to make good decisions.

So, one question always comes up and it’s, “What’s the difference between capacity planning and resource planning?”

So again, we’re talking about people resources in this, but capacity planning is looking at the organizational level. It’s a planning process to help you determine if the organization has enough people resources according to skill sets.

And it also helps you determine the availability of resources at the skill set and team level, and helps facilitate decisions to hire resources, maybe even defer, approve, or even cancel some projects. Again, we’re looking at supply and demand.

But when we talk about people resource planning, it also is a planning process, but it helps to coordinate and allocate actual people resources, the people on the project according to the skills required for that project.

It also provides a plan for the project managers to let them know what resources are available and when they’re available to assign to the projects. So again, it’s people resource utilization.

So, I found helpful to have this checklist, and this is a high level, so you can actually break this down as far as you need to. But these are five steps on the checklist that I found helpful.

So first of all, you wanna establish a cross functional team where different levels, different functions, so that you can, you know, collaborate and communicate about resources because you’re looking at across different projects and even programs for an organization.

You also want to calculate the resource capacity.

You wanna determine what resources are required by project. So, for every project, you’re looking at what is the scope and what resources are required to do the task for those projects.

Then, you want to prioritize your projects for the organization and allocate the resources based on the priorities for your organization and how they align to the goals.

But here are the tips. So, I found there are more, but these are the top three that I think have helped me the most.

So first of all, you wanna open the lines of communication between the executives, the project leaders for all of those projects, as well as the stakeholders because each of these are working different parts of different projects and you wanna keep those lines of communications open about priorities and decisions that are required.

You also want to document known risks that can impact the projects and they could be, for instance, some industries have projects that maybe have union labor, and every so many years, the union contracts come up, and it could impact whether those resources are available.

Sometimes, the weather, you know, if bad weather or a big event occurs, the weather could impact your project and even government regulations. Sometimes, government regulations, your company has to respond to something and it may spawn off an unexpected project.

And then, you can plan for how to handle too many or not enough resources, so if you have too many resources, you need to determine where and how to reassign those resources.

And then, if you don’t have enough, you’ve got to determine when and how to source them. So, the big bonus here is to use the tool because, as you can see, according to different projects in their organization, this can become very complex and a tool can really help.

So, if you need a tool to help you with your capacity planning, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManger.com.

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