Stemming the ‘Great Resignation’: Capacity Planning and Resource Management

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There’s been a lot of talk recently around the ‘great resignation’. Which both is and is not a real thing. As the Harvard Business Review notes:

“In 2021… over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs.”1

But, they go on to point out, that was only after a notable decrease in that number from the year before. Unsurprisingly, many people who were going to change or quit their jobs in 2020 put those plans on hold once the pandemic kicked in. But once they got the security of the stimulus package and the vaccine the following year, those plans went back into action.

The ‘Great Resignation’

So that burst in 2021 was really just a re-balancing after what had happened in 2020. However, when you look at the overall statistics you can see a clear trend. Because in every year since 2009, except in 2020, the percentage of people voluntarily leaving their jobs has gone steadily and inexorably up. Rising from around 1.3% of the workforce in 2009 to 2.6% in 2021.

In other words, that percentage has effectively doubled in a little over ten years. So yes, the ‘great resignation’ is really happening. But not just because of the pandemic, it’s much more imbedded than that.

What that means for businesses is that getting the most out of your human resources is even more important than it was before. Because if your employees don’t feel like they’re making a valuable contribution and an actual difference, they’ll go elsewhere.

Capacity Planning and Resource Management

Capacity planning and resource management are closely connected but serve two distinct purposes. Broadly speaking, the former gives you a bird’s eye of the department or organization as a whole, so that you’ll know what resources you have, and what together they’re capable of producing. Which is vital when it comes to deciding which projects to take on board and which ones to pass on.

Resource management, on the other hand, focuses in a more granular way on who and what to assign to each project. So that the right amount of time and money is allocated to people with the necessary skill sets, to successfully deliver the goals they’ve been tasked with.

Capacity planning then is more concerned with strategy, while resource management focuses on operations. And the resources in question are, essentially, people and finances. So capacity planning tells you how many people, what kinds of people, and how much it would cost if you took on a particular project or client.

Then, once you’ve added that new client or project to your portfolio, your resource management is how you delegate and rearrange all your people and finances to make sure that it gets delivered on time and on budget.

All of which sounds straightforward and even obvious. But many’s the slip twixt cup and lip, and it’s remarkable how many businesses, even large businesses, end up getting into all sorts of financial difficulties from what began as a series of seemingly innocuous errors. And as often as not, those errors came about when they agreed to take on work that they weren’t then capable of delivering on.

In other words, they didn’t properly understand, or refused to acknowledge, precisely what resources they had at their disposal, and what therefore they could realistically do with them.

Avoiding ‘Inventory Buffering’

One of the things we hear many organizations complain of lately is the need for what’s being called ‘inventory buffering’. One of the lessons from Covid, they say, and the supply chain chaos that that produced, is the danger of relying on the just-in-time management of your inventory. The only way to guard against which is to over-compensate, by making sure that you always have an extra supply of everything for the inevitable surprises that are bound to arise.

But that’s like saying the best way to deal with fires is to invest in the biggest possible fire engine. The antidote to supply chain chaos is not more inventory. Rather, it’s to spend more time on, and gain a better understanding of supply chain planning. What that means when it comes to running your business is investing as much energy as possible in understanding what resources you have at your disposal, and how best to go about managing them.

Keeping it Simple with the Right Software

The way you manage and keep track of your resources, your people and your finances, is through your software. That’s what gives you the processes and provides you with the infrastructure to centralize all your data. Which is the only way to produce reliable pipeline and budget forecasts. Because you can’t enjoy the benefits of sophisticated data analysis unless that data is seamlessly consolidated, in real-time, and all your various systems are fully integrated.

All of which will hugely simplify the planning process, allowing you to prioritize and organize projects based on their strategic value. You’ll then be able to streamline your resource scheduling, allocation, and tracking, giving everybody predictable timelines and achievable goals.

So if you want to build a buffer against the tide of the ‘great resignation’, keep it simple and let your software do the work for you.



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