5 ways poor capacity planning can sabotage a project

Learn how poor capacity planning undermines efforts and can lead projects toward catastrophic failure.

Tips for how to become a project manager In this intro for TechRepublic's how to become a project manager cheat sheet, Alison DeNisco Rayome discusses what the job entails, why it's in demand, skills needed, interview questions, and more.

Every project consists of tasks that require resources in order to succeed. However, project managers often encounter challenges when trying to match resources to the tasks as needed. Why? Simply put, capacity planning, which is careful planning to match the right resources to each task at the right time, gets overlooked.

Poor capacity planning can rack up casualties and losses across the board. Not having the necessary and appropriately skilled talent assigned to the right tasks can undermine all of your other best efforts in every area and drive your project towards catastrophic failure.

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Below are five ways poor capacity planning negatively impacts project deliverables.

1. Exhausted resources

Poor capacity planning leads to resource shortages and, eventually, exhausted resources. If your resources— and let's not forget this often refers to human resources or talent—are overscheduled or have conflicting priorities, they will likely burnout. Not to mention they will also suffer from stress, diminished concentration, and are unlikely to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.

2. Low morale

Further, if your resources are overscheduled and exhausted, you can practically guarantee that they also will suffer from low morale, lack trust in project managers and other leaders, and eventually will just stop working at a productive level. In fact, they are apt to put in barely more than a minimal effort just out of the need for job retention. Unfortunately, the resource is often seen as the issue or bottleneck, rather than the company seeing it as a capacity planning issue.

3. Low-quality deliverables

If resources put out only the bare minimum, then the quality of all deliverables is bound to suffer. Ultimately, customers will reject the final deliverable, creating a scenario of rework and additional resourcing shortages. At this stage, it becomes a vicious cycle that simply can't be broken without addressing the capacity planning issue that led to this point in the first place.

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4. Out-of-control costs

Rework is guaranteed to result in increased costs, which customers (and your finance department) will undoubtedly frown upon. Once costs begin to spiral out of control, it is highly unlikely that additional funds will be released without a significant amount of justification (which also means more work). Very seldom is poor capacity planning a well-received explanation.

5. Failed goals

Poor capacity planning also increases the likelihood of missing project goals. All risks become fully exposed and this eventually leads to complete failure.

Much of the above can be avoided or properly addressed through careful capacity planning.

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