What is Rough Cut Capacity Planning?

rough cut capacity planning

Capacity planning is the process of weighing supply (availability and skillsets of project contributors) against demand (how many projects you plan to undertake in a given timeframe). 

Capacity planning is a higher level task that assesses demand and helps you understand how much work your team should be taking on over a given time period. Resource forecasting or demand planning are other terms that describe capacity planning.

During the capacity planning process, you’ll be analyzing the available resources which include:

  • Team availability (by hours)
  • Budget availability for those hours
  • The availability of specific skill sets at the team level 

Once you have a clear picture of the team capacity, perform the same analysis in relation to the demands on your team. It will help to determine if your training team has the necessary resources and skills to execute projects. 

The gap between the capacity you have and the capacity you need helps with high level decision-making. Therefore, the result of your capacity planning exercise may be:

  • Deferring certain projects
  • Approving or cancelling planned projects
  • Hiring extra resources
  • Providing training to close skills gaps

For those who know their teams inside out and have an innate understanding of their capacity, this may seem like an unnecessary exercise. But the benefit of proper capacity planning is the ability to articulate and communicate your team’s capacity to others in concrete numbers. In a perfect world, you may even discover extra team capacity.

What is Rough Cut Capacity Planning?

Rough Cut Capacity Planning (RCCP/RCP) is a long-term plan capacity planning tool. It’s for balancing required and available capacity, and to negotiate changes to the master schedule and/or available capacity. 

Changes can be made either to planned production or available capacity based on your RCCP analysis.

The idea behind RCCP is to get an overview of demand and capacity without delving fully into the nuts and bolts of resource management. Additionally, it’s a statement of the capacity you need to meet your training production schedule.

The Pros and Cons of RCCP

The Pros

Strategic Planning

When aligning L&D to overall business objectives, capacity planning allows you to assess training demand against the supply of available resources. Those resources consist of:

  • Employee working hours
  • Budget
  • Skills

It also helps to make sure your training team is supporting the organization in meeting strategic objectives.

Reduce Costs

Capacity planning goes a long way toward reducing waste on the training team. When you have a complete understanding of your team’s capacity, you can more accurately predict how many training projects can be taken on in a given time period.  

So this avoids any unforeseen hiring needs or having to bring in expensive external content vendors to pick up the slack.

Guaranteed Resource Availability

Capacity planning helps to set expectations for your stakeholders and avoid overworking your team. If you can show that your team is unavailable with concrete capacity figures, the next logical step is to acquire further resources to meet demand.

The Cons

It can be time consuming

This depends on the size of the organization. And luckily, nowadays you have many different planning tools available. So you can speed up and simplify project planning and capacity planning.

Discipline is needed

Project managers and planners must consider updating the schedule as a standard part of their tasks. So it is important that the planning takes place structurally and that the planning is kept up to date.

When should L&D use Rough Cut Capacity PLanning?

Although traditionally used in manufacturing plants for production plans, Rough Cut Capacity Planning can be hugely beneficial for training teams, especially in the following scenarios:

Times of uncertainty or change

RCCP allows for a certain amount of flexibility in comparison to other capacity planning models. So, in times of great change or flux for the organization, it can help to leave room for quick adaptation and agile responses to unforeseen projects.

When navigating a new schedule or method of training production

If you’re introducing a new project management methodology or a new training project schedule, it will take a few iterations to nail down your processes and correctly assess capacity and resource management. RCCP provides the flexibility and high level overview you need without being overly restrictive.

Capacity planning is all about maximizing your training team’s productivity. Take this quiz to assess whether your training intake is currently slowing your team down or increasing productivity!

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