Multi-dimensional Capacity Planning
One of the most important tasks in the life of a product manager is to plan upcoming development cycles and decide which dev tasks will be included in the next release or sprints and which ones won’t.
Deciding on the scope of the future releases (or sprints) is mostly dependent on the development resources available (i.e., how many man-days are available from the dev team), and the estimation of how much development effort is needed from each task. Mastering this will lead to developing the right tasks at the right time and meeting deadlines and milestones. On the flip side, poor planning has the potential to mislead the entire organization and result in your roadmap being unrealistic and inaccurate, with the potential to snowball and affect other teams (such as sales and marketing) relying on rigorous capacity planning.
The process of planning releases based on the available resources and effort estimation is called capacity planning. Traditionally it is a very long and tedious process where product managers find themselves copy-pasting task titles into spreadsheets, plugging in manual formulas, and figuring out how to make the right product choices completely devoid from context.
Capacity planning, upgraded
Today we have released a very powerful tool for capacity planning. With this tool, you can easily plan your next release (or sprint). Capacity planning with Craft.io is simple: first, you enter your available resources for that release (e.g., the total number of man-days, weeks, or story points). Next, given the effort estimation of each task, you can quickly review if your tasks match your resources. Finally, finish the process by including or excluding tasks from the release.
In addition, Craft.io’s new capacity planning tool allows users to plan using multiple dimensions. Developers are heterogeneous in their skills and, in many cases, not interchangeable. For example, a front-end developer can’t do the work of a back-end developer nor a data scientist. To accurately assess capacity in this instance, one should calculate the resources and dev efforts separately. Our new capacity planning tool supports multi-dimensional capacity planning: simply add custom fields to represent the different dimensions, and their resources sum up independently. Exceed any given capacity, and the system will automatically alert you so that you can review and make the necessary changes.
To illustrate the process, let’s take an example of a dev team, consisting of six front-end developers and two back-end developers:
If the upcoming release is comprised of four weeks, assuming a five days work week, we have 6*4*5=120 front-end man-days and 2*4*5=40 back-end man-days.
You start the process by entering” 120” and “40” in the FE and BE capacity fields.
Then, for each item, we fill in what is the estimated effort for both FE and BE.
Craft.io will alert you if the items in the release are exceeding any of the resources.
To get a fast and clear indication of how planning changes affect the release, you can use the “Out/In” function to simulate these modifications if you exclude an item.
After settling on the right plan, simply click the Apply button on the “Out/In” column to send the excluded items out of the release to the Parking Lot.