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Mar 12

How to plan capacity of a resource in Jira?

With regular Jira, you can do “some”, or “limited” resource capacity planning. What is capacity of an individual, team, machine? Why plan it in the first place? When the regular Jira is enough and when you’ll want to get some resource planning plugin? Do you need to take skills into consideration?

Jira resource capacity planning

Airline business calls for advanced resource capacity planning. Pilots are type-rated and there is legislation on their work time, among others.


Two reasons why capacity planning is important

As a project manager:

  1. you need to neither overload nor underload a resource (a professional, a team or a machine)
  2. knowing your teams’ capacity, project management software can estimate the end date of a project

How likely will a project actually end on that theoretical date? Read more on story points and Sprint planning/SAFe’s Predictability Measure.

What regular Jira can and cannot do in terms of capacity planning?

With no supplementary resource planning plugin you can do the following in Jira:

  1. assume, for every employee, that a week has 5 working days/8 hours or different values
  2. activate time tracking
  3. compare the triad for a task: logged time – remaining time – estimated time
US Business holiday plan 2018 in BigPicture

U.S. Business Holiday calendar in BigPicture.

The following on the other hand are what you’ll have a difficult time doing in regular Jira. So you need a plugin:

  1. workload plan – a separate weekly “calendar” for every employee, e.g. Mon – Fri 9 to 5 for full-time Joe or Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. for half-time Mary
  2. holiday plan – moveable and fixed holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, oftentimes different across countries and cultures
  3. vacation plan – when your Joe Of All Trades flies away for Cancún or an excavator has a service break.
  4. skills – more on that later

Points 1 to 3 collectively constitute a true individual’s capacity.

How precisely do capacity planning?

The more specialized the staff members are, the more likely you are going to need at least the workload/holiday plan functionalities in your Jira set-up and this is why:

  • you likely employ a couple of part-time specialists. For example, you could have a very crucial software architect person, but only as a part-time member
  • as regular Jira is unaware of teams, you wouldn’t be able to determine your teams’ capacities
  • some teams cannot easily transfer tasks between team members. Example: A team consists of a Java Developer (back-end), an Angular developer (front-end), and a full-stack developer. The third is the only generalist in the team and – sadly to say – might not be as competent at both programming languages.

With very specialized teams you might need to decompose skills, too.

Capacity of a team

The most widespread approach to a team’s capacity is to simply add up the capacities of individual team members. With hired, or outsourced teams, however, it’s quite common to assume their capacity at say 80 hours per week, regardless of how many people a team actually consists of. This is because a set price had usually been agreed beforehand for a hired team.

Team-centric mode, resource allocation grid for Jira

The resource grid shows whether the teams are underallocated, or underloaded (green), appropriately allocated (orange) or overallocated (overloaded, red). Note the team-centric mode enabled. Resource module of BigPicture.


Do you need to decompose skills?

Skills project management app

The skill aspect of resource planning is present in BigPicture PPM app. Pictured is the administration page.

Probably not at the initial stages of any project. As a project is misty and blurry, “I just need five developers” is all you know. The more into a project, the more you fall into resource allocation and you need some level of skills decomposition.

Team configuration Jira

John Smith is 100% committed to a single team. But he could as well be a member of two teams, with 50% availability for each. Teams module of BigPicture.


Which plugin for advanced Jira resource capacity planning?

We compare the strengths and weaknesses of the big three of the Jira resource planning world here. We highly recommend BigPicture for its balanced emphasis on various resource-related functionalities (HR bias vs. project bias). As far as resource planning is concerned BigPicture features both workload and holiday plans (that in BP serve the purpose of vacation plans, too), as well as skills-related fields. Besides, it is an advanced project management app for Jira that features roadmap, Gantt chart, resources, risks and pdf cross-program view.


About The Author

With his automotive background Marcin goes beyond the 'Jira + software development' standard. He likes simple, up-to-five-sentence answers to complex questions.