Critical Action Planning – Rock Simple Capacity and Skills Planning

Your project is capacity limited, but without a Critical Action Plan, you don’t know how limited. You may think you need another engineer or technician, but a Critical Action Plan can really help you define and justify hiring needs.

Here’s how.

I’ve already described how a Critical Action Plan is a granular list of Project Tasks, with an estimate of the Work-units needed to complete each task. When we add up all of the Work-units needed to complete a project, we get the Project Scope.

Now, list the Available Resources to work the Project Tasks in the plan. We want our Available Resources to be apples-to-apples with our Plan. If our plan calls for us to manage an outside vendor, we don’t estimate the vendor’s Work-units in our plan and we don’t include the vendor’s resources as Available Resources for our project. If, on the other hand, we have a full-time consultant working on the project, we do include the consultant’s Work-units in our plan and we do include the consultant’s resources as Available Resources for our project.

For each Available Resource, we estimate the Available capacity, recognizing that individuals take time off, attend meetings and do training, and need to support non-project activities. As I’ve mentioned previously, I assume 3.5 to 4 work-days available per person per week.

We can now compare Project Scope to the Available Resources for the Project Duration. The additional number of people you need might surprise you.

What skill sets might you need to add?

Another way to analyze your critical action plan is to add a skill-type for each task. Skill types could be function (e.g. mech eng, product manager, quality eng, etc) or activity (e.g. designing, testing, analyzing) or anything else you choose. You can then sum up scope by skill-type, and compare the result to your capacity by skill type. This technique identifies skill set deficits and might be useful for hiring or training.  Simple spreadsheet summation shows you the difference between the capacity of skills you need versus the capacity of skills you have.

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