A month ago, I changed my position in the company and became the leader of the PMO (project, portfolio or program management office – pick the one you like). Our main goal is to make things work efficiently. We all know it’s hard.
Let me share the approach I took to improve one of the biggest and hardest processes – Capacity Management (scheduling or talent management). Sometimes it is referred to as resource management or planning, but I don’t like those terms. In my case, we work with people, not resources (things). They have skills, dreams, feelings, and the capacity to do an awesome job. Our goal is to make sure that we have the person with the right skills in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that we are always able to satisfy all of those parameters together, but we are trying to create a process which will maximise our outcomes and help us to get where we want.
I borrowed the concept of 4 pillars of Capacity Management from Jerry Manas. I divided the problems and set the goals to the team according to the following 4 principles: visibility, prioritisation, optimisation, and integration. Let me quickly walk you through each of them.
In order to manage the capacity efficiently we must see the big picture: the demand and supply. If we don’t know what’s going on on the demand side, we can’t make strategic talent allocation and predictions. We need to understand how many people and which skills we need to have available to make the job done.
The goes for the supply side. How can we predict the expectations of our clients and users if we don’t know who’s available today and who will be available in the nearest or even farthest future?
Just try to remember how often you’ve experienced the following situations:
Before we start fixing the problem, we need to make sure everybody sees it. We started with making the process as transparent and visible to everyone as possible. We work with sales and try to get the best guesses about the dates and the skills required for the project. We work with active projects on clarifying the completion dates to make sure we know when the people will be available for the next project. We work with people to understand which skills they have and in which direction they want to develop so that we could help them to get closer to their dream with every next project.
A few tips for improving the visibility:
Ok, now you have the map of the supply and demand and you can start working on improving efficiency. We started with implementing the segmentation of our requests – the categories which show us what we can expect from those requests and which approach we should take for each category. Then, we took a step further and implemented a score which takes into account a number of parameters – it helps us to prioritise requests.
With limited capacity (and it’s always limited) we need to learn how to use it efficiently. From the business point of view, it could be some measured utilisation or other KPIs that will show you that you’re on track. We’ve built dashboards with KPIs visible to everyone so that we all know if we are closer to achieving our goals or not.
Everything is connected. Changes in your processes and approaches will cause changes on the other side of the company. The same applies to changes made by your stakeholders – they will affect you in one way or another.
Those are 4 main areas we’re working to improve at the moment. Will this work? We don’t know. I like to treat everything as an experiment. And even if we fail somewhere, we learn and get back to work with improvements and new ideas.