Planning projects and managing workloads for your team can feel like a big guessing game. You’re often taking shots in the dark about just how much wiggle room they have, and that can lead to inefficient use of your resources, frustration, and even burnout. Use this capacity planning template to get an accurate read on your team’s bandwidth so that you can remove the guesswork – and have a happy, well-supported team to boot!
How to use the capacity planning template
Step 1. Give your team some homework
Before you round your whole team up to discuss your capacity, give everybody some homework to do individually. Ask everybody to jot down all of the things they do in a typical week, along with an estimate of how many hours per week they spend on each task. It’s helpful to have your team do this before coming together so that they can refer to their calendars, email inboxes, chat channels, and tickets to get as accurate a picture as possible.
Step 2. Call a team meeting
After you’ve given everybody adequate time to sketch out their average weeks, bring them together for a meeting. Start by providing some context about why you’re discussing bandwidth. Are you planning for a new project? Determining how to onboard a new team member? Trying to set better boundaries? Make that purpose clear so that everybody is on the same page about your goal. This context will empower everybody to be way more honest about their own hours and availability (rather than feeling concerned that it could get them into trouble).
Step 3. Do some simple math
It’s time for everyone to take out their homework and add up their total individual hours. All of their activities – from admin time to coffee runs – should be included. Your goal here is to get an understanding of each team member’s total working hours.
Next up, you’ll figure out what percentage of their time they’re spending on actual projects by dividing their hours dedicated to projects by the number of total working hours they just identified.
Take some time to talk about these numbers together. Are they what you were expecting? Do these percentages align with your team goals? Or is way more time being dedicated to other tasks (like admin work, for example) than you anticipated? Having this open conversation will help you spot some areas where you could make some adjustments and optimize your team’s time.
Step 4. Fill out the team capacity table
In the table, list each team member's role, their name, the percent of weekly time they dedicate to projects, and the total weekly hours they spend on projects.
To build an overall sense of your team’s capacity, group similar roles together so that you can add up the hours for that position and list that total in the column for sum by role. That way you’ll know just how much total time your engineers, for example, are spending on projects.
Step 5. Make informed decisions
Now that you have a clearer picture of where your team’s time is going and how much bandwidth they have, you need to use this new information to make informed decisions about who can be assigned to future or current projects. This will help you align your team members’ skills with specific tasks, match up tasks with your team’s overall goals, and avoid the stress and burnout that happens when you overload someone who’s already spread thin.
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