When most people think of a company leader, what do they see? A fancy suit? A bar cart stocked with expensive scotch? A classy office that has many leather-bound books and smells of rich mahogany?

Thanks to tv, maybe. What you’d be hard-pressed to see on the big screen are the realities of running a services company; developing business strategies, endless paperwork, people management, and stakeholder engagement.

Leading a services business to profitability and beyond is hard. It takes moxie and significant operational chops to navigate a team through the challenges of the modern day.


A Glimpse Into Resource Capacity Planning


An organization is certainly not static. At any given time, there are many moving parts that require attention and information from different departments in order to operate smoothly. As a top strategist, it is your responsibility to effectively manage all of these moving parts and interpret data coming from a million and one different sources.

Above all else, you are expected to predict the future, even though there’s no crystal ball hanging out on that bar cart of yours. Do these questions sound familiar?

  • What resources are required at what phase of the project?
  • What resources do we have on our team?
  • What resources are we actively looking to hire?
  • Is this project following the anticipated timeline?
  • Have any change requests arisen?

In the business world, seeing into the future is not a superpower, but a requirement for achieving scalability and maximizing performance. But, how are you supposed to effectively plan for what’s to come when the only thing you can bet on expecting is the unexpected?

Estimating and planning errors. Supply chain interruptions. Scheduling changes from clients. Challenges with budget accountability. Data being locked away with an individual only to be lost forever upon their departure. These are just some of the realities that exist for a project-based organization.

Even if you could foresee every potential calamity and adjust accordingly, you cannot move the needle forward without input from your departments. The fact of the matter is, even the most talented departments are made up of people, people who you need accurate data and forecasts from in order to strategize effectively and plan on a better way forward. And guess what – people make mistakes.

With all these variables at play, how can you have absolute trust in your data? How will you be able to steward the financial position without 100% assurance?

A Resource Capacity Planning Example

Let’s say that you’ve hired Joe as a Senior Project Manager. You’ve entrusted Joe with capacity planning and overseeing a whole team of Project Managers and Estimators. It is Joe’s responsibility to plan and manage all projects and in order to fulfill those duties, he must determine what resources are required to be successful.


To ensure they are operating smoothly from the start, Joe works hard to establish costs and a clear scope for his team. To kick things off, Joe opens up a new spreadsheet on your company’s shared drive so his team can track their actual versus budget project variances and forecast time and expenditures.

At first, things seem to be working well, but as the weeks go by, Joe starts to notice that the spreadsheet is not being updated as frequently as it should be. Joe meets with his team and discovers that a few people have begun using their own spreadsheets out of frustration.

He received comments like “only one person was able to work effectively in the spreadsheet at a time” and “I WAS using it, but my work kept getting saved over by others”. How can Joe confidently communicate his forecast to management and match resources to projects and client deliverables now?

Joe is left having to consolidate all of these disconnected spreadsheets and once he does, how on earth can he expect the information to be correct, week after week? Joe is having a bad day. Joe is sad. Poor Joe 🙁

This is far from an ideal situation. Joe is a very seasoned Senior Project Manager that you hired to manage project profitability and consistently deliver value to your clients.

Instead, Joe’s impressive talents are ultimately being rendered unusable, as he is now forced to spend his time double checking, triple checking, and even quadruple checking spreadsheets for errors.

Joe no longer has the capacity to forecast and drive business outcomes. As a result, you are not receiving the accurate data that you rely on from Joe to effectively manage resources and create a blueprint for the company’s future.



The Truth About Organizational Planning

The truth is that most companies lack a solution that unites organizational data from all source systems whilst centralizing forecasts and forward-looking projections. Departments leverage purpose-built applications to perform their designated responsibilities, however, this takes place in silos, resulting in a process that is challenging to track and difficult to manage.

Lack of trust results in cross-functional meetings being spent trying to determine the validity of data and forecasts instead of making strategic decisions that will drive the business forward with confidence. Without a system of data collection and arrangement that is automated, accessible, and centralized, visibility into resource constraints, availability, and demand is just not possible.

Value is literally being locked inside your spreadsheet process. Leadership needs a holistic view of the organization in order to identify the root cause of constraints and forecast upcoming resource demands.

This is where an integrated planning solution comes in quite handy. By giving business leaders the organizational-wide data they need, forward-looking decisions can be made with certainty. Bringing together the estimating process, resource plan, utilization, project, and financial forecasting, equips leadership to holistically anticipate the future demands of their business.

Business leaders need to respond to ever-evolving resource demands with confidence. In order for that to happen, sales and operational plans/forecasts need to have a direct link to your operations and ultimately your P&L, providing transparency and depth to your financial statements and bottom line results.

Without these methods in place, you will still be running blind within your siloes, unable to unlock your hidden profit potential.

Written By Lance Tylor 

Lance is a business finance professional with a passion for helping businesses grow. He is a Charted Management Accountant (CMA) within Canada and in the UK and has had several roles within the Office of Finance. His experience has always been focused on business strategy, performance management and business process improvement (leveraging the latest technologies).