How to Leverage Capacity Planning to Build a Flexible Training Team Schedule

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Making the most out of your resources is a challenge faced by all teams, departments, and organizations. Reducing waste (whether that be budgetary or otherwise) helps to ensure the organization is doing all it can to meet performance objectives.

In increasingly fast-paced markets where organizations need to be highly adaptable to survive, it’s more important than ever to address departmental capacity and how best to use it. Not only that, but the speed of business now demands a certain level of flexibility in resource management so the business can respond quickly to change and new demands.

For L&D, that means keeping up with surges in demand for training and remaining agile in their resource allocation. There is no better example than the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to shine the light on the need for flexibility in how training teams adapt to changes in demand. 

Current Challenges

When it comes time to devise your training project schedule, there are a lot of considerations to take into account. To ensure the training team is meeting as much demand as possible, management needs to consider:

  • How many full time employee hours are available?
  • What is the potential for freelance/contract hires if needed?
  • Will the budget cover any outsourcing that may be required?
  • Is there a skills gap on the training team? Can it be closed?

With recent furloughs and budget freezes creating even further uncertainty, L&D leaders need to find ways to keep up with increased demand while often working with less resources than expected.

different types of SME

Planning for Times of Uncertainty

The first thing to do is to break down your team’s capacity into various timeframes and plan accordingly. For example, long term resource planning may not be a possibility right now as organizations are in somewhat of a holding pattern in many cases.

For that reason, your short-term and medium-term capacity is going to be the most critical:

Short-term capacity: Usually used for daily or weekly time frames (and sometimes quarterly), capacity planning at this level assesses learner demand and unexpected variations. 

Medium-term capacity: This usually encompasses annual planning, but can stretch to capacity planning for up to three years in the future depending on your organization’s overall strategy.

Long-term capacity: Depending on your industry, company size, and strategic objectives, long-term capacity planning requires more complex forecasting in order to define future capacity requirements.

So, what can training teams start today to try and plan for the unplanned?

Begin with only critical resources

Rather than trying to capture any and all data, start with data that is easy to source and maintain. Once you have a picture of your team’s capacity built, you can start to add in things at a more granular level.

Identify high demand objects

Whether it’s a staff member with a particular skill, a training topic that is requested again and again, an existing course that needs to be updated regularly, or an urgent request that is critical to the business, begin with tracking the demand and capacity for frequently used resources or high ticket items.

Stay high level with your projects

When examining the resource requirements for individual projects, starting small is a good idea here, too. Begin with phase level estimates rather than individual task requirements.

Start using it straight away

Capacity planning is rarely done to perfection. There are too many moving parts and frequent change for it to be so. But as soon as you have a workable model, start using it. You’ll still see immediate benefits even from the highest level of pictures. And seeing that benefit will encourage those involved in capacity planning to keep up the good work.

Spread the word

Keep your whole training team in the loop. Although capacity planning is most useful for upper level management and decision making, sharing it with the team can help to set expectations. You might also get some insightful input into some of your estimates around project requirements. For example, if you have over or underestimated the time required for a particular project phase, who better to point it out than those who are fulfilling the requirements?

Trying to stay flexible in times of change? Agile Learning can help. check out this free ebook to get started:

The Beginner’s Guide to Agile Learning

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