The Secret to Innovation: Capacity Planning

by David Stevens / 9/29/2017 10:38:39 AM

All businesses strive for innovation, but it can be a nebulous concept. Every company loves to create great ideas, but the problem lies in knowing which one should be taken further, ensuring that the correct resources are available to deliver them.

Most organisations constantly battle with the following decision: either let a great idea sit on the shelf until the resources become available, or push the idea into an already crowded funnel and start squeezing resources to fit into schedules.

The secret to innovation comes down to a very simple concept: capacity planning. It seems so simple, that to turn every great idea into a tangible initiative, the right resources must be utilized to develop it.

However so many companies do not start with such practical steps and get lost in the big ideas with no follow up actions. In order to get real results from your innovation ambitions, it is vital that capacity planning and resource management are on the top of your company’s agenda.

With the right technology processes put in place and a cultural change within organisations, resourcing will allow innovation to thrive, relieving the all too familiar pain points of business executives. We have worked with thousands of companies, large and small, to help them achieve their innovation goals. These guidelines will help get you started with capacity planning for innovation.

Have a full understanding of resource capacity

Once companies have a full understanding of work in the pipeline, it is necessary to plan ahead, efficiently translating the data available in order to ensure that employees are not over-servicing and projects are resourced efficiently.

A recent study into resource management showed that 77 percent of organizations overcommitted resources due to poor capacity planning. As such, it is imperative that organisations use resource management software to manage their workforce, creating efficiency and a streamlined process.

Internal silos within companies will also be bridged as there will be a greater ability to manage shared resources. Not only does this utilise each department efficiently, but it also creates a holistic approach when trying to resource for each new project.

Executives are all too familiar with company processes that are inefficient and as a result thwart an increase in revenue. With new software, executives no longer have to trawl through relentless amounts of spreadsheets detailing capacity for each team.

When organisations start to adopt such processes company-wide, the day-to-day work of project leads will improve drastically, but it is also a single source of truth when other senior members of staff and stakeholders ask for a breakdown of ongoing work and the resources attributed to each project.

Such technology, therefore, will help project leads meet the demands of stakeholders and executives, making sure that up-to-date and factual data is shared. Once this accurate information is shared, project leads know they have full confidence from their seniors in making resourcing decisions going forward.

Indeed, this will ensure that employees have the capacity to bring innovative ideas to the table, but will also improve the time-to-market of converting such ideas into tangible projects.

Ensure clear visibility into project pipeline

Today, most sectors demand constant change, meaning that work must be moved forward to meet such demands. As such, innovative thinking is key. If this does not occur, a business will lose its competitive edge and stakeholders will no longer see the benefits of investment.

Having a clear knowledge and visibility into what work is in the pipeline will prevent such challenges occurring. Furthermore, it can help teams deal with any unplanned projects which have the potential to cause huge stress on resource utilisation and can even prevent product launch timelines.

Project prioritisation and capacity planning enables project managers to have a real-time, on demand view of current work, and consequently reduce the amount of ‘zombie projects’ – those projects that take up resources and yet never come into fruition – and help account for changes if unplanned projects come up. Up-to-date capacity systems help companies to deliver the highest value and bring the highest priority products to market.

Continuously prioritize and plan for greater agility

Capacity technology provides real time updates for resourcing in each team, meaning project managers no longer need to worry about resource management being done at different times after long periods.

Many companies that run capacity plans at a monthly or annual rate create significant challenges unnecessarily to project prioritisation. A portfolio analysis that runs constantly will approve each process through real time information, allowing resource management to become engrained into the culture of an organisation.

Such technology now reduces what can be a long and complicated system into a single automated process, freeing up employee’s time to concreate on developing new revenue streams.

Establish “what if” scenarios

Arguably, why resource management is so essential to allow for innovation to flourish in the workplace is due to its value in allowing companies to have the capability to respond to innovation opportunities in minutes, hours or days, rather than weeks or months. Businesses survive by having the ability to assess whether or not it has the capacity to take an unplanned project.

Each senior manager can now be confident that their decision to develop an innovative idea into a new project through using facts that are generated by capacity planning software.

Business executives are primarily concerned with achieving revenue targets and new business that can accomplish this and such software allows for the evaluation of capacity to take on new projects which then allows for innovation.

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At first glance it may seem that capacity planning will hinder the creative ‘innovation’ process, but implementing best practices will ensure that at the end these ideas will actually have an outcome, or be dropped and stop putting a strain on resources. When it comes to innovation project prioritisation, it helps to have a clear process for determining the reasoning behind each project going forward.

As such, effective capacity planning is instrumental in creating an innovative culture as employees have the resources to go beyond their own remits, creating new ideas to benefit the company as a whole, and allow the best ideas to shine rather than just the best salesperson. With a full understanding of resource capacity, businesses will have the correct structures to allow innovation to flourish from ideas to execution. 

Capacity planning is a key part of work and resource management, an approach that enables companies to integrate strategy and execution across all their work and resources, with the capacity and financial resources required to accomplish their objectives. Work and resource management solutions uniquely encompass all the different ways companies are working. Learn more.

David Stevens is VP EMEA & APAC Sales at Planview.

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