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Capacity Planning Fast-Service™ Package

“If we select the pmNERDS' Fast-Servicepackage, then we get rapid performance improvement, but we’ll need to answer questions and provide feedback.”

We all occasionally get major hankerings, it’s usually something that we can’t wait for and need within a very short period of time. For us it is usually food related, the Fast Food Industry utilizes the notion of standardization to produce food at minimal cost and preparation time while maximizing value within their business constraints. The question is can they make a compelling product while being profitable?

At pmNERDS, that’s our goal with these Fast-Service™ packages. Using product templates, standardized processes, and focused training we’re able to deliver consulting products faster than our clients and competitors, with sustainable margins.

Very few of us look forward to overly complex Capacity Planning processes. We want it to be easier and faster, so process performance in this area looks rather attractive, but what area should be addressed first?

Using some rapid assessment techniques, the Performance Measure Framework, and our performance constraint analysis tool, we help you identify that practice that is holding you back. Then we will propose modifications or creation of a new practice that addresses your specific constraint. This is not about investing lots of time to do it yourself, or just going without, we are offering a third choice…

Our clients hire us do some of the data collection, constraint analysis, process documentation, and change management activities that are part of effective Capacity Planning performance improvement practices. With only a total of 8 hrs. of your time, spread out in 8 sessions over 4 weeks, we complete the analysis and build the necessary deliverables to adopt a new practice, that will improve your Capacity Planning performance. All of this is accomplished within 20 business days.

We’re experts in performance improvement and Capacity Planning practices, you know your business and organization. By using our Fast-Service™ package, you can leave the specialized practices to us, and focus on running your business.

Below is a set of Fast-Service™ package deliverables used to improve your Capacity Planning performance.

SELF-ASSESSMENT REPORTThis is an Excel spreadsheet and chart that is used to identify the major problem areas and bottlenecks of the organizations’ innovation process. The Self-Assessment contains a series of questions related to current practices for gathering ideas, converting ideas into business opportunities, and finally diffusing ideas throughout

This is an Excel spreadsheet and chart that is used to identify the major problem areas and bottlenecks of the organizations’ innovation process. The Self-Assessment contains a series of questions related to current practices for gathering ideas, converting ideas into business opportunities, and finally diffusing ideas throughout organization and to market. Using the self-assessment, we can quickly identify the perceived system constraints, and dive deeper into specific process areas that could be causing bottlenecks.

CONSTRAINT ANALYSIS REPORTThis is a set of Power Point diagrams used to identify key system constraints. We use Sufficient Cause diagrams to look at effects and potential causes from the perspective of Resources, Inputs, Controls, and Processes. These diagrams are used to verify effects, validate relationships between causes and effects, and look for additional effects to gain a clear understanding of the current system constraints.

PERFORMANCE MEASURE FRAMEWORK- This is a set of Excel spreadsheets and Power Point diagrams used to manage process improvement. Focusing on 1 of the 16 domains, we will load the selected practice into the Performance Measure Framework. By adding your standardized plans and information assets, such as process diagrams and performance thresholds, into the framework, you can do trade-offs and make process improvement decisions.

PROPOSED PRACTICE EFBDThis is a set of Power Point diagrams used to establish a process definition. The EFBD (Enhanced Function Block Diagram) Illustrates control logic, information flow, and process steps. We build this by looking at past project plans and documenting the current state. Based on constraint analysis, we can make modifications to the EFBD of the practice. We do this with things such as review gates, control activities, additional input screening, and resources inputs. This EFBD standardizes the practice and makes the proposed practice easier to understand, adopt, as well as improve over time.

NEW PRACTICE POLICIES & PROCEDURESThis is a set of Word documents that are used to outline process policies and procedures that enable standardization and improvement. Policies and procedures establish a standard set of minimum expectations and guidelines that are expected to be followed by anyone performing the practice. We create a new baseline of process performance, based on the constraint analysis and EFBD process analysis, by adding policies, process steps or procedural guidelines. This information is used to train people on new process, and monitor process execution and performance.

BUSINESS CASEThis is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to analyze, establish and communicate the business case of implementing the proposed practice change. When change is desired, the value delivered through the change must outweigh the negative impacts, cost, and natural friction that change will cause. All business cases derive from the ability to impact one of the six business drivers: Revenue, Efficiency, Sustainability, Endorsement, Cost and Risk. We will then define the type of value proposition that the new practice will deliver: uniqueness, familiarity, or economy of scale. Lastly, we determine the Cost/Value combination. This process will achieve same value for less cost, or more value for less cost, etc. The business case is used to overcome change hurdles and help people to quickly adopted the proposed change. 

PERFORMANCE SCORECARDThis is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to measure practice performance and drive improvement. The performance scorecard is built from information captured in the Performance Measure Framework. Using the five key performance measures, you can diagnose causes of performance constraints and identify process adjustments to address them. The Performance Scorecard will keep people focused on the key measures that impact overall performance, making improvement efforts more effective.

STRATEGY DIAGRAMThis is a PowerPoint diagram that is used to communicate the strategic intent of the performance improvement initiative.  The strategy diagram sets a common vision and outlines how different teams/roles work together to perform the key activities needed to deliver the value of the initiative. The strategy diagram helps team members to understand their role, adopt the proposed changes, and buy-in to the initiative solution vision.

COMMUNICATION PLANThis is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to communicate to and engage all stakeholders and team members of a project. A Communication Plan will identify the target personas and actions that you want them to take, anticipate potential objections, and provide a message that addresses the objections and provokes action. We will develop a communication plan that identifies target stakeholders, develops compelling messages that engage them to act towards the achievement of project objectives.

ROLE-BASED TRAINING DIAGRAMThis is a set of PowerPoint diagrams that are used to identify training needs of job roles. These roles based training diagrams provide standardized capabilities, job role expectations, and training demand analysis by process. These diagrams are used to create training and adoption activities for each role as part of the new practice deployment. Each Role can clearly understand their roles & responsibilities regarding the new practice. This means the activities will get done more efficiently with better performance results. 

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT MILESTONE ROADMAPThis is a PowerPoint diagram that is used to communicate the performance improvement efforts of the organization over time. Based on the performance constraints, this roadmap identifies the sequence of performance improvements as well as the target process areas. The Performance Improvement Milestone Roadmap will align team members, resources, and efforts to provide the most rapid performance improvement for the organization.

Want to learn more? Contact us either by email or phone.

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Capacity Planning with ‘PATHS’ Process-Service™

"Capacity Planning with PATHS is a Process-Services™ offering of pmNERDS. This offering provides a process umbrella of PATHS, and then line-items of an S.O.W. that can be chosen a la carte.”

Capacity Planning provides actual paths to choose from. It’s with choices that we have agency and power. Too many times we’re given choices with only one possible answer. Well not with PATHS. With capacity planning we create real alternatives, conduct ‘What-if’ analysis, and optimally coordinate project start dates. What more God-like characteristic is there than to peer into potential futures and make decisions based on the most optimal outcome.

During our process consultancy, we address:

Portfolio– The portfolio manager provides portfolio constraints, thresholds, and strategic alignment to facilitate the project segmentation and stratification used by capacity planners. The portfolio gives projects prioritization used to control project spending over time.

Availability- This gives power to capacity planning choices. It doesn’t matter what projects are called for, if there is no one available to do the work. Insight into resource availability is critical to capacity planning. Throughput- So what are you doing capacity planning for? To increase throughput, which is competitive advantage. Use capacity planning to maximize throughput, which is the competitive advantage produced by projects.

Heuristic- This is a systematic approach to capacity planning, problem solving, learning, and discovery that promotes a ‘hands-on’ and interactive practical approach not guaranteed to be optimal or perfect, but sufficient for your immediate goals.

Structure- Remember to create a project structure that accommodates not only the ‘big rocks’, but the smaller ones as well. The structure must support insertion of new opportunities throughout the year, and shifts in strategic intent. The structure must be repeatable, defendable, and maintainable.

The pmNERDS process consultancy provides a standard Capacity Planning capability described by the acronym above. This is an umbrella capability needed regardless of any additional practices selected from our a la carte practice menu.

Capacity Planning Practices available for selection from the a la carte S.O.W. include Stratification, Resource Budgeting, Resource Estimation, Resource Scenarios, Scoring Models, Infinite Demand-Fixed Resources, Infinite Resources-Fixed Demand, Fixed Demand and Resources, Current Environment Assessment, The Problem Workload, Sensitivity Analysis, Failure Mode Analysis, Workload Forecasting, Probabilistically Modeling, Performance Models, Operational Analysis, Input Parameters, Calibration and Validation.

Organizations that depend on projects to create value and increase process efficiencies, as seen in business units such as IT, Marketing, and NPD, should talk with us if they’re interested in increasing project performance.

After a quick discussion, we can direct you to the best process offering and a la carte practices based on your process improvement goals. By putting together a service package that addresses your key performance constraint, our sales team can help you get the quickest time-to-value, while minimizing risk and cost.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through email or phone.

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Capacity Planning Performance-Service™

“If we engage in pmNERDS’ Performance-Service™ offering for Capacity Planning, then we’ll increase the organization’s competitive advantage, realize higher value from projects, and complete projects more efficiently, but it will require change leadership.”

Our performance improvement consulting begins with gathering information about your organization and engagement goals. We conduct a quick gap analysis to construct an engagement roadmap.

Once approved, we will build this roadmap out into a complete project plan and review it with our clients going over roles and responsibilities. We schedule weekly meetings to review the project and discuss relevant decisions. Depending of the length of engagement, steering committee meetings are also scheduled.

Daily scrums are scheduled to address issues and schedule any needed ad hoc meetings. Our performance improvement consulting involves a great deal of planning and communicating. Underlying each practice is an element of process improvement and the use of a standard performance measure framework.

Capacity Planning is about ensuring you have the capacity to complete project commitments, either by providing needed resources or by not making the project commitments.

A Capacity Planner makes an explicit promise to the organization that, barring any catastrophes, the projects committed to have the needed resources required. How can anyone make such a promise?

The Doctrine of Uniformity is the assumption, that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past, will continue in the future, and apply everywhere. It refers to invariance in the principles underpinning science. Though an unproveable postulate that cannot be verified using the scientific method, uniformitarianism has been a key first principle of virtually all fields of science, including capacity planning.

Capacity Planning is a top-down function, using predictive measures and is sometimes confused with the bottom-up approach of utilization measures. Capacity planning never gets to the detail of individual resource utilization rates. It is used to determine optimal start times of projects based on resource availability and project loads.

The pmNERDS Capacity Planning consultant uses the invariant principles of predictive performance modeling to address and optimize solutions for the two fundamental capacity planning questions below:

“Given a fixed demand, what is the optimal project scheduling, with unlimited resources?” and “How much work can be completed, with an optimal project scheduling, given a fixed amount of resources?”

Of course, the third capacity planning question must also be addressed, that is, “Given a Capacity Plan, how do I add newly proposed projects, and conduct change impact analysis?”

From the capacity plan, utilization rates of resource types can be predicted. As projects are further defined, and specific resources are identified on the project, utilization rates may be forecasted for specific named resources. This isn’t possible without a start date assigned by the capacity planner.

We should mention at this point that all projects aren’t scheduled by the capacity planner. Normally only the most strategic projects are managed this way. Thresholds of other project types are modeled with homogenous buckets which create demand, but don’t go through this approval and scheduling process. Utilization rates are directly computed, because there is no choice as to when the project will start.

We will work with your team to find optimal solutions to these three questions, identify assumptions, conduct sensitivity analysis, and scenario risk assessments. Many times our engagements include utilization forecasting and capacity planning.

By leveraging our experience, you can reach expected benefits quicker and with less false starts while being assured that you won’t paint yourself into a ‘process’ corner, and isolate information asset flow to downstream processes. Our Performance-Service™ practice requires a discussion to determine goals, scope of effort, consultant alignment, and the development of a business proposal. We deliver an analysis of current capacity planning process performance and constraints, a roadmap to performance improvement, process design, process exercise, process enablement, deployment, and measurement.

A large part of this effort is process training, skills mentoring, and performance coaching. Depending on the engagement, technology configuration or deployment may or may not be part of this effort. You can discover more about this service offering by clicking the icon (email or phone) in the top right corner of our website. We’d love to further discuss our Performance-Service™ offering, and answer any questions you might have.

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A Capacity Planner: How Many Can You Lift?

“If I am a capacity planner, then I am always looking for optimal functionality, but really, what do I do?”


Who is a capacity planner? A capacity planner gathers performance data and measures the output to determine optimal fit within the production scheduling. A person in this position is normally at the business unit level, but there are enterprise level capacity planners that look at the whole organization, such as Resource Forecasters or Resource Estimators. A business unit capacity planner may be called a Performance Manager or a Performance Engineer among other titles, but who are they really? Every job is more than just a title.

In previous posts, I have determined the best way to describe a project manager to a child is to classify them as a superhero, like Batman. So, if a project manager is Batman, then a capacity planner is a lot like Alfred, Batman’s butler. Don’t be mistaken, Alfred was way more than Batman’s routine servant. He pretty much raised him. If Bruce was being foolish, then Alfred efficiently reprimanded him. In the background, he never stopped guiding him in the right direction. This is a capacity planner.

A capacity planner can go by many different names, but at the end of the day, the goals are still the same. As a capacity planner, you are here to understand the priorities, the resources available, the true cash flow, as well as the intricacies of the time frame. Alfred understood Batman’s true priorities. Batman wanted to destroy all his foes and save every single maiden, but it took Alfred to continuously remind him that he is only one man. As one man, he only has so much capacity. This inevitably led to the introduction of Robin and later Batgirl. Batman increased his capacity to match the increasing demand.

It might seem trivial to say that the capacity planner needs to understand priority, the cash flow, the time frame and everything else, but it is more complex than you think. It is a balance of continuously fixing the past, adjusting the present actions, and planning for future growth. Planning for growth could entail adding more physical locations, adding personnel, or capital to raise for any given expansion. This plan is always a factor in determining how many transformational/major change projects you can accomplish in a year. How many projects can you really afford given the resources as well as the budget? Sure, you could run yourself and your team down, but as Alfred understood, you still must eat and sleep, even if you're a superhero. In capacity planning, you can’t invoke only major change if you have requests for maintenance/utility or compliance mandate projects.

Your business unit and organization needs a continuous spectrum of projects. If you can do three transformational projects given your organizational constraints than you would need to sufficiently space them across the next few quarters. In between these major projects, you always have a spot for last minute projects or required maintenance projects. A capacity planner is working to design an optimal project schedule by weighing the risk, priority, cash flow, and organizational capacity.

Capacity planning involves looking at what resources are being utilized and making sure these are being allocated correctly for optimal functionality. Managers with this mission are leading their Batmans’ in the direction that means success and growth of the organization by considering the priority, resource availability, and the fluctuating cash flow within a given time frame. Alfred is the only real father figure Batman has in his life. The one force that Bruce Wayne knows will always have his back in any situation. He is the man behind the man. He is the capacity planner.

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Capacity Planning: How Much Can You Lift?

“If I invest significant resources to capacity planning, then I understand the production capacity needed to meet the changing demands, but I am not sure what capacity planning really entails.”

My morning is never complete without a cup of coffee. So, when I first came across the term “capacity planning,” I automatically went to my regular morning struggle, how much coffee can I put into this travel mug without burning myself? This might seem trivial, but it is a delicate process. How big is the mug? Do I want to leave room for cream? How much cream? If your calculation is even slightly off you burn yourself at some point, have a subpar cup of joe, or you managed to cheat yourself out of some coffee.

After some research, I now understand that capacity planning is slightly more complex than filling up a cup of coffee. Capacity planning is the process of determining the production capacity needed by an organization to meet changing demands for its product or services. The goal of capacity planning is to understand the capacity of the organization, and the demand of the customer, to minimize a discrepancy between the two forces.

If only it was as easy as filling your travel mug in the morning, but really, most of capacity planning comes down to two questions. Given the resources I have, how many projects can I do? Given my projects, how much resources do I need?

You might be reading those two questions and think it is that easy, but just like pouring coffee, there are lots of variables involved. The cream to coffee ratio and the size of the travel mug, turns into skill sets, number of projects, strategic plans, as well as the number of resources. If the path to high performance is a pipe, then each of these variables are something blocking the flow.

The key to successful capacity planning is identifying the biggest blockage. You could have a reasonable number of employees and projects, but have a gap in the job roles that can be filled by your resources. Alternatively, you could have resources that are being severely overworked. You have too many projects and not enough resources, in which case, you can reevaluate the number of future projects that can be attempted. The first step to unplugging the pipe or filling that mug is to understand what you have, and what you can do with it, and that is capacity planning.

The luckiest of us out there no longer need to worry about filling up our coffee mugs to the appropriate level. We have Starbucks or an automatic machine that fills our cups to that perfect full, but not too full point. If only real world capacity planning were the same way. The more you understand the more you can plan for at your organization. Capacity planning ensures the long and short term success of key business initiatives at a reduced cost, and who doesn’t want that?


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Capacity Planning: How Long Can You Lift it?

“If you want to determine the production capacity and the plan necessary to meet the changing demands for its products and services, then you have done sufficient capacity planning, but what strategy and steps were taken to develop your plans?”

It should be self-evident as to why an organization should care about capacity planning. No one wants to be in the situation where they have tons of people with nothing to do or to have too many projects and not enough people. As work piles up you are unable to become more efficient or grow as a company. You are unable to do much more than fight the fires. A company that has done sufficient capacity planning understands their priorities, the resource availability, the cash flow, as well as the intricacies of their time frame. Every project matters!

The repercussions of a poorly planned product launch are not just some unplanned operational costs, but a battlefield of ruthless customer reviews as well as negative impacts on the company’s image. The goal of capacity planning is to reduce that possibility, by minimizing the discrepancy, and provide satisfactory service levels in a cost-efficient manner. In other words, you are checking the system, and determining if you have the roles and skills needed before scheduling the work. Regardless of the situation, capacity planning involves three basic steps:

  1. Determine Capacity Requirements: Understand what will need to be supported.
  2. Analyze Current Capacity: Determine if it is meeting the organizational requirements.
  3. Plan for Future Capacity: Forecast future business activities and requirements.

There is lots more that can be said about each of these steps, but to begin you must understand your limits. After that is determined, you can start to understand your organizational constraints, the true project priority, and further speculate on production holdup. Companies use one of four general strategies to determine the production capacity, and produced the plans necessary to meet the changing demands for its products and services:

  1. Lead Strategy: Loading the system in anticipation of an increase in demand. The Lead strategy has the goal of luring customers from your competitor by improving service level. You are ensuring that the organization has adequate capacity to meet all demands even during high growth periods.
  2. Lag Strategy: Add the capacity after demand has increased beyond existing capacity. This strategy decreases the risk of overbuilding, greater productivity due to higher utilization levels, and the ability to put off large investments, but it may result in the loss of possible customers due to the product being out of stock or low service levels.
  3. Match Strategy: Add the capacity incrementally in response to changes in demand. This is a more moderate approach to reach the same advantages as in the lag strategy.
  4. Adjustment Strategy: Add or reduce the capacity in small or large amounts due to the consumer’s demand, or do major changes to product, or to the organization.

You made the resources available to really look at the capacity and demand in your organization. You even allowed others to adjust a few of the associated variables such as hiring a new copywriter and adjusted a few projects. So… you’re done with capacity planning? Right? Not so much.

We live in a fast paced world were nothing ever stays the same for too long. The capacity is defined as the maximum amount or number that can be received or contained. This could be about the amount of data on a hard drive, or the maximum amount of work that an organization can complete in each amount of time. It is important to know those numbers, but it is more important to know that capacity requirements can fluctuate between peak and limited demand. You might not require the same number of resources in normal operations as you do in peak demand. You are only human, to ensure the success of business initiatives and reduced cost, capacity planning should be actively done semi-annually, but with this concept, should be continuously in the back of your mind as things change!


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