Launching a training program or taking on new projects without proper capacity planning often results in missed deadlines, an overworked team, and less effective training solutions for your learners.
And with increasing pressure on L&D to deliver performance-driving learning experiences, it’s crucial to understand the exact availability of your resources (from budget to individual skills) before committing to new projects.
To understand more about the importance of capacity planning, here are some benefits you can expect once capacity planning is properly implemented:
Aside from required training such as compliance based courses or onboarding, training teams have to prioritize and process requests for other learning experiences aimed at driving performance across the organization.
In a perfect world, all training requests that are submitted would be fulfilled. But that requires limitless capacity on the part of the training team. Instead, requests must be prioritized and resources carefully allocated to each new project.
When aligning L&D to overall business objectives, capacity planning allows you to assess training demand against the supply of available resources. Those resources consist of:
- Employee working hours
It can also help to make sure your training team is supporting the organization in meeting both short term and long term strategic objectives by breaking your capacity into a similar schedule:
Short-term capacity: Usually used for daily or weekly time frames (and sometimes quarterly), capacity planning at this level assesses learner demand and unexpected variations.
Medium-term capacity: This usually encompasses annual planning, but can stretch to capacity planning for up to three years in the future depending on your organization’s overall strategy.
Long-term capacity: Depending on your industry, company size, and strategic objectives, longterm capacity planning requires more complex forecasting in order to define future capacity requirements.
Lots of training teams make assumptions or guesses about whether they can meet training demand rather than having a plan in place. Capacity planning goes a long way toward reducing waste on the training team. When you have a complete understanding of your team’s capacity, you can more accurately predict how many training projects can be taken on in a given time period.
This avoids any unforeseen hiring needs or having to bring in expensive external content vendors to pick up the slack.
If your instructional designers, project managers, and subject matter experts are consistently working over capacity, burnout is a very common outcome. Staff are more likely to take time off work, feel unmotivated in their roles, and unhappy with their working conditions. So, before you commit your team’s time to that new training project, are you sure they can deliver on your promises?
Capacity planning helps to set expectations for your stakeholders and avoid overworking your team. If you can show that your team is unavailable with concrete capacity figures, the only next logical step is to acquire further resources to meet demand.
The expected skillset of a training team or an instructional designer has been growing rapidly in recent years. As new technology expands the boundaries of elearning (think VR and AI), creating new learning experiences requires ever more careful consideration of your team’s existing skillset.
That’s why skills are a crucial part of your capacity planning – if your team does not have the required skillset to fulfill a training demand, you’ll quickly find yourself overbudget trying to plug the gaps.
Capacity planning allows you to identify this issue early on and plan for it accordingly, whether that plan materializes as hiring extra resources or providing professional development for existing team members.
As an L&D leader, it’s your job to communicate your team’s capacity clearly and effectively to executive management. Overpromising and underdelivering will win you no favours with the c-suite or with your own team. But there is often pressure to make these promises if you don’t have a hard and fast reason to say “no,” other than vague commentary about your team being overworked.
Capacity planning hands you those concrete numbers to show senior management what your team is up against and how much space they have for extra projects. It’s a win-win on both sides of the fence: execs will be more likely to provide extra resources in the way of budget if the training goals are mission-critical, and your team will know you have their back.
The result is realistic timeframes and goals rather than disappointing execs and demotivating your team with missed deadlines. By setting clear expectations and then delivering on them, the value delivered by L&D becomes much more clear.
Want to see how Agile Learning can help you respond better to training demand? Check out this free ebook!