Project leaders need to juggle many different responsibilities, and one of the most important project planning tasks is capacity planning — aligning their team’s capacity with a forecasted project demand. Capacity planning involves a careful balancing act between the supply of resources that are available to a project team, and the resource demands of the project. Leaders must assess whether or not their team has the capacity and resources to meet the project demand, and if not, it’s up to them to gather the resources necessary.
Capacity planning helps to remove the guesswork in figuring out timelines and resource allocation. This kind of planning is especially important when a company is scaling, so that you’re able to grow without your team experiencing burnout. Capacity planning can serve business needs by ensuring that a team completes the project on time and on budget.
Resource capacity planning tools can streamline a lot of the tedious tasks involved in capacity planning. Read on to discover our picks for ten best capacity planning tools in 2023.
Why use a capacity planning tool?
Capacity planning is more than creating timesheets. Project leaders must first identify the project’s specific needs, then translate those needs to resources and capacity. This could be how many hours of work are needed or specific equipment that the team will need to use.
The next step is determining their team’s capacity against the project’s timeline. If the project manager identifies a gap between available resources and project demand, they must then align capacity with demand. If capacity is greater than the demand, the project manager can shorten the timeline to completion or decrease the size of the team. More often, the project’s demands are greater than the team’s capacity, in which case the project manager may decide to readjust priorities or increase the size of the team.
A capacity management system makes this process easy and painless by automating processes like resource utilization and optimization. Capacity planning tools can automate scheduling and track team performance to help project managers get a more accurate picture of their team’s bandwidth. They can also automatically produce reports and reviews that give stakeholders insight into current capacity.
In addition to capacity planning tools, use a scheduling tool like Clockwise. Clockwise gives managers instant insight into how many hours each team member is spending in Focus Time versus meetings, so that you can be mindful when it comes to managing everyone’s time.
What to look for in resource capacity planning tools
Resource capacity planning tools are an essential part of accurate and time-saving planning, but not all tools are made equal. When choosing capacity planning tools, look for four essential features: integration, automation, real-time reporting, and flexibility.
- Integration with existing software
Capacity planning software is meant to make a project manager’s job easier, not more difficult. Look for tools that integrate seamlessly with the human resources management and project management tools your team is already using.
- Automation is key
The best capacity planning tools automate as much of the capacity planning process as possible. Without automation, capacity planners spend too much time setting up spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel. Beyond simple automation of tasks, however, the most effective capacity planning tools utilize AI to automatically adjust capacity as conditions like supply chain disruptions change. AI can also forecast capacity for future projects.
- Reports and analytics in real time
Real-time reporting and analytics are key for resource capacity planning tools. Real-time reporting allows project managers to analyze resource availability and immediately get a bird’s eye view of capacity at any given time. This allows managers to adjust timelines and resource allocation at every step of the project.
- Flexibility and scaling
Every organization’s capacity planning needs are different, and the best capacity planning tools offer flexibility and customization. Look for capacity planning tools that offer options that scale with your business.
The ten best capacity planning tools of 2023
Using the criteria above, here are our picks for the ten best capacity planning tools of 2022.
Kantanta (previously known as Mavenlink) is a full feature project management software. This tool offers resource management and optimization. One of its biggest strengths is that it can access data from all of your systems, and it has strong demand forecasting and planning capabilities.
- Features: Resource scheduling and optimization, business intelligence, integrations and workflows
- Pros: Full functionality software and powerful integrations
- Cons: Pricy
- Pricing: Available on request
- Best for: Large organizations that rely on legacy software that capacity planning tools must integrate with
Toggl is an all-in-one project management tool that provides three dashboards for a project — project management, team planning, and task management. This makes it easy to track tasks and your team’s workload.
- Features: Project management, project scheduling, and an HR tool all in one
- Pros: This is one of the best capacity planning tools for both project managers and team members.
- Cons: People-centric capacity planning that doesn’t account for non-HR resources and equipment
- Pricing: Free to try, with paid plans starting at $9/user per month. There is a 30-day trial of their pro plans so you can try before you buy.
- Best for: Organizations that rely only on hours of work as a resource in capacity planning
Forecast is another full feature resource management tool. It utilizes the power of AI to drive powerful insights and forecast (as the name suggests) future capacity planning.
- Features: Project management, business intelligence, resource management, and project accounting tools.
- Pros: AI-powered insights and comprehensive integrations
- Cons: Pricy and includes tools that not every team needs
- Pricing: Starting at $39/user per month
- Best for: Larger organizations that are looking for an all-in-one tool to power all aspects of project management
Saviom is an enterprise level software that provides capacity planning tools like resource and workforce management, as well as real-time scheduling and forecasting. Saviom takes it one step further and also monitors KPIs and other business metrics.
- Features: Real-time features that adjust capacity forecasting to changing circumstances, as well as a warning system to identify and resolve project bottlenecks
- Pros: Business-oriented metrics and powerful real-time adjustments
- Cons: Some features, like KPI tracking, might be unnecessary and already allocated to another software.
- Pricing: Free to demo, no price listed for paid plans
- Best for: Large corporations that are looking for an all-in-one solution
That’s right, ClickUp is not just for task management. Unlike other task apps, ClickUp also has a workload view feature that helps project managers plan and visualize their team’s capacity. ClickUp can measure capacity by tasks, hours, or points (using the Agile and Scrum points system).
- Features: Real-time view of activity levels and Gantt chart for roadmap creation
- Pros: Capacity planning template and task management in one tool
- Cons: Clunky interface, limited ability to identify bottlenecks
- Pricing: Free forever plan, paid plans starting at $5/user per month
- Best for: Small organizations that don’t need advanced resource capacity planning tools
ResourceGuru’s main selling points are powerful features with a simple interface. Its amusing calendar interface allows you to view at a glance how much capacity each of your team members has left, and includes warnings for scheduling overcapacity. The drag and drop interface makes ResourceGuru intuitive to use.
- Features: Includes equipment management and meeting room booking
- Pros: Simple and fast to use and helps avoid overcapacity booking
- Cons: Lacks customizable features and flexibility
- Pricing: Starting at $2.50/user per month
- Best for: Organizations that need to account for equipment management in their capacity planning.
Runn is a free to start tool that is designed for project managers. It includes both a big picture calendar view as well as granular insights on specific team members. In addition, Runn includes project financial tracking and reporting.
- Features: High level and granular insights
- Pros: Useful features for small teams
- Cons: Lacks more sophisticated features that larger teams may need
- Pricing: Free for up to 5 people, $10/user per month for a pro plan. 50% off for nonprofits and organizations from low-income countries
- Best for: Small organizations that are looking for a free tool, especially nonprofits
Smartsheet acquired the capacity planning tool 10,000ft in 2019. Smartsheet offers simple but dynamic capacity tracking and reporting. They offer various plans with different features, making this one of the best capacity planning tools to fit teams of different sizes.
- Features: Capacity forecasting, resource allocation, time tracking
- Pros: Features that scale with the size of your business
- Cons: Works best within the Smartsheet ecosystem
- Pricing: Pro, business, and enterprise pricing
- Best for: Teams that anticipate growth and need a tool that will scale with them
Monday.com is a highly customizable integration management tool that can do it all. The customization and strong integration tools makes monday.com one of the best capacity planning tools for teams that need customized features. Capacity planning tools available on monday.com include project roadmaps, resource allocation, team capacity assessment, and projection.
- Features: Customizable modules and integrations
- Pros: Highly customizable and integrates with virtually any software
- Cons: Requires time and skills to set up and customize
- Pricing: Free forever plan, with premium plans starting at $8/user per month
- Best for: Organizations with particular capacity planning needs that require customization
Float is an HR and capacity planning tool that takes a “people first” approach to capacity planning. Float allows for a shared work schedule that gives project managers a look at the projects team members are working on. Float can help managers identify gaps ahead of time, so they can hire or contract out work to meet project demands.
- Features: HR management tools and shared calendar
- Pros: The ability to have one tool for both HR and capacity planning needs
- Cons: Doesn’t account for non-HR resources needed for some projects
- Pricing: Basic plan with resource planning for $6/user per month. With time tracking, it’s $10/user per month.
- Best for: Organizations that have variable staffing needs, often contract out work, and need to track billable hours
Capacity planning tools empower project managers to allocate project resources effectively and forecast their team’s capacity to scale and take on new projects. The best capacity planning tools allow for integrations, flexibility, automation, and real-time analytics. Any one of our top ten best capacity planning tools for 2023 can be a valuable asset to project managers!