How to Forecast and Manage Resource Capacity

A project lives and breaths because the resources move it forward. The Project Manager is responsible for assigning resources and scheduling tasks, so forecasting and managing resource capacity is key. Ensuring there is a process to follow is step one. But, knowing what the resources are and how to schedule those resources comes in right behind it.

Chose a Process

Understanding how a project will be documented is just as important as planning the project. And to weigh the importance, once the system is in place, it can be reused and replicated, increasing future project success and completion. Research current capabilities and possible tools. Balance the organization’s size, budget, knowledge, infrastructure, buy-in, and desire to perform. Choose a process that works for the organization’s needs and work hard to utilize the system to realize peak productivity.

The tools you use are up to you. We’d recommend one of the following:

  • Pen and paper
  • Spreadsheets
  • Collaborative Tools (Slack, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint)
  • Project Management Software

Resource Capacity Identification

Once you have a process in place, figure out the resources required to complete a project…and book it. If it is a person, place, thing, or costs money, and you know that the project needs it, document it. Plan for when it will be used, and take all necessary steps to acquire it.


A common resource is labor, but not all labor is common. This is where Human Resources (HR) and Department Managers are assets. Assignment to a task should be based on the skill level, knowledge, and resource availability.

Sometimes, Project Managers get into the habit of assigning a name to a task because they know them, have assigned them in the past, or assume they are the only ones capable. Overallocation is always a danger, but thoughtful and vetted assignments can prevent this.

So, the next time labor resource assignment is on the table, let the Department Manager know what is needed (an IT Technician that can follow a checklist) instead of John (the most experienced IT Engineer with half a dozen certifications, that is everyone’s go-to).

Now, what happens when a task requires skills that current employees do not have? There is always the option to contract this out if it is cost-effective. Or go to HR and start a discussion about training current employees and updating hiring activities to include the new required skills.

In addition to finding the right resource, scheduling is a factor. First, understand how long a task should take. Look at historical documentation. Has this task been performed before, was it on time, were there any lessons learned? Ask Department Managers and Subject Matter Experts (SME) about realistic expectations. Consult the resource to verify ability and availability. Get the best estimate and move forward.


Occasionally, tasks require a specific location, such as a conference room or hall, a training room, laboratory, or test facility. The list can go on. These types of resources can be multifunctional and open for use to many activities.

In a perfect world, the system used to plan projects will control these calendars. Once the resource is assigned, the space is booked. If there is a scheduling conflict, the burning man will send up a distress signal. In which case, the schedules are deconflicted, and everyone is on the same page.

In the real world, these calendars are controlled by individuals or are outside of the organization. Coordination and verification will be necessary to ensure scheduling conflicts don’t throw the project off its course. Slightly off-topic, but very important. For risk management, plan for alternate locations in case of emergency. Don’t let space be a single point of failure.

Another consideration when forecasting, a place might not be used, but it might go down or not be accessible. Be sure to know who will be affected and communicate early and often to ensure the schedule will work. This is negative space that can’t be overlooked.


Material, tools, vehicles, equipment, travel…all these things, and more are essential to completing a project. Some will need procurement, others will need scheduling, and a few will need both.

When material is needed for a project, a few questions need to be asked. Is it in stock? Does it need to be ordered? Can it be used by other activities? Does it need to be stored or secured (refer to Place)? How long will it take to acquire?

And for all that is good, please, once material is on hand, separate it, label it, and communicate its purpose. Pilfering for operational use is a thing and must be recognized.

Other items such as tools, vehicles, and equipment also need to be earmarked and verified. Understanding when things require preventive maintenance and repair will assist in scheduling. For example, calibration of test equipment and tools can take weeks if they’re sent away. Oil changes are necessary as are system updates.

Configuration Managers (CM) may also assist when things such as software and server space or space in general is required. Coordinating with CMs early can help identify availability and document future use. There is nothing worse than thinking there is a Terabyte of space on a server only to find out DEVOPS is using it as a sandbox.

That example is rather IT-centric and slightly bitter, so another example is needed. Finding office space that will suit a new department standing up, only to find out it is being renovated and is off-limits for the next six months. Please trust that this is information wanted early in the planning process to forecast and manage resources.

Resource Limitations

Now that the resource is identified, limitations need to come into play. First, what type of organization is providing the resources? If it is a consulting company whose sole purpose is to see a project completed. Scheduling is straightforward. However, if the project resources also have operational responsibilities, those restrictions must be accounted for and planned around. For instance, if a maintenance activity knows all technicians perform preventive maintenance 4 hours a day and are only available for project work the other 4 hours, customize the calendar to accommodate the restriction.

Be a Student Teacher

A Project Manager is a hub where information comes in and goes out. The role has the whole picture, enabling them to guide and complete a project successfully. A great Project Manager learns from other managers and resources as well as stakeholders and leadership. And in return, they teach and enable those same endpoints, allowing them to both provide better information to the Project Manager and make more informed decisions. The more all concerned understand the process, the better able a Project Manager will be to forecast and manage resource capacity.

Working within Resource Capacity

A project won’t succeed if the resources are managed improperly. Understanding what will be needed in the future and knowing how to assign and schedule resources within their capacity will move the project forward. Seeing the whole picture and communication will foster a Project Managers’ ability to properly forecast and manage resource capacity, and using a process to its fullest will help.

Now out into the world you go. But before you do, thank you for your attention and please see the below recommendations to continue your education and familiarization with resource management. Learning should never stop.

Advanced Resource Management Techniques with MS Project, on Advisicon Academy

Mastering resource management: the PMO’s role, by J.K Crawford