I’ve used a multitude of PSA (professional services automation) tools over the span of my career and feel compelled to give a review of and shout out to Clarizen on the design and layout of their Capacity Planning module.
Any one of you who runs a professional services organization understands the headaches that trying to forecast months out can bring. So many variables play into it – what does your pipeline look like, what are your growth plans, when will your existing projects finish (for real), what human resources will your upcoming projects need and when? All of these are questions that you need to answer to paint an accurate picture of what your resourcing needs will be. You will need a solution to help manage the answers to all these questions. Enter Clarizen.
Clarizen has recently rolled out their Capacity Planning tool which does a great job at providing both executive-level highlights to staffing needs as well as manager-level details needed to do effective planning. Here are some highlights of the tool.
Staffing Requests & Templates
You can enable the ability to enforce staffing requests for all new projects that your organization starts up. As a new project is created, before individuals can be assigned to a project, the project manager would construct the staffing needs by role and effort (by month) and then submit those requests via the tool to the Capacity Planning module. Workflows can be enabled to trigger email notifications to resource managers who are tasked with assigning individuals from their groups that there is an outstanding request. The Capacity Planning tool then allows resource managers to view these requests, visually lined up against existing commitments for staff members to help determine who is available to take on the request. The most beautiful thing about this entire process is that project plans can be templated with pre-existing staffing requests (c/w effort estimates) and can be date-adjusted based on the anticipated start of the project. This makes the entire staffing request process much more seamless and controlled (i.e. no more side emails asking who can be on the project).
Dual Forecasting Methods
One feature of this tool that I did not anticipate being as useful as it has been, is the fact that all data used in Capacity Planning does not impact actual project task-based forecasts that project managers will input. This allows for much more ‘what if’ modeling by the resource managers without impacting real-world project forecasts. When a project manager enters a forecast, it is done at the task level of the project. Capacity Planning only takes into consideration ‘project level’ forecasts thereby not impacting the task level forecasts. Reports can be generated out of the tool to identify the variances (ideally there are minimal) so that expectations are managed appropriately.
The Clarizen Capacity Planning tool is one that I feel really adds a lot of value to the organization. It looks and behaves like a spreadsheet but also hooks into the project portfolio to show powerful information to help stakeholders make informed decisions when it comes to staffing projects.