What is Capacity Planning? (Strategies, Process, and Best Practices)

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What is Capacity Planning?

A manufacturer wants to determine the number of machines and workers that are required to produce products on a certain day.

Similarly, retailers want to make informed decisions about how much inventory they should stock, in order to meet customer demands.

What do you think can help them plan and manage their resources, tasks, time, and manpower?

It is here that capacity planning can be implemented and achieve great profits, reduce overspending, and have happy customers. It plays a major role in the success of growing industries.

It determines how much resources and production capacity an organization needs. This process happens over and over again. It starts with a forecast and then reviews what happened in the past.

It ensures that an organization can constantly provide services while controlling costs and risks.

This blog post will help you understand how to plan for how much work your business can do. In addition, you will learn capacity planning strategies, goals, process steps, best practices, tools, systems, and who is involved in capacity planning.

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Key Insights

  • Capacity planning involves forecasting future business needs and ensuring resources are available to meet demand effectively.
  • Its primary goal is to optimize resources, manage costs, and mitigate risks while meeting current and future demands.
  • The four main strategies in capacity planning are lead, lag, match, and adjustment, each with distinct approaches to meeting demand efficiently.
  • Capacity planning comprises resource capacity, production capacity, capacity requirements, and excess capacity planning, addressing different aspects of resource allocation and management.
  • Challenges in capacity planning involve timing the increase in capacity correctly, avoiding unnecessary costs or lost opportunities, and effectively managing excess capacity.

Definition of Capacity Planning

Capacity Planning

Capacity planning is estimating how much business your company will have in the future and ensuring you have the resources you need to meet that demand.

First, you look at how many resources you currently have and then predict how much you will need in the future. After that, ensure you have enough resources by either getting more or not using all of your help at once.

Capacity planning is integral to resource management because it helps a company meet demand without going over or under budget.

The capacity planning process is crucial in project management. It is related to project management knowledge areas like:

  • Work Management
  • Resource Management
  • Time Management
  • Team Management

The Goal of Capacity Planning

Capacity planning is crucial because it helps an organization be efficient and scalable. This means that the organization can meet its current and future needs. That involves:

  • Assessing how much capacity an organization currently has.
  • Predicting how much capacity will be needed in the future.
  • Ensuring the necessary resources are available when needed.

A few related terms that we need to know before proceeding are:

Resource Planning and Resource Management

Resource capacity planning is forecasting future resource needs and allocating current resources to meet those needs.

It includes forecasting the demand for people, money, materials, and machines and then assigning those resources in a way that will meet projected requirements.

Resource management is the process of managing resources in an enterprise. Resource management ensures the enterprise has enough resources to meet its current and future needs.

6 Steps in the Capacity Planning Process

Capacity Planning Process

Effective capacity planning involves the assessment of existing capacity and the identification of later requirements. It also includes developing plans to ensure that sufficient resources are available when needed.

The steps involved in capacity planning are:

  • Assessing current production capacity
  • Determining future requirements
  • Planning for anticipated growth
  • Meeting current and future demand
  • Reviewing and adjusting plans as needed
  • Celebrating success!

1. Assessing current capacity

It is the first step in any capacity planning process. Next, you need to understand what resources you have at your disposal and how they’re currently used in resource planning. This can include everything from people and equipment to office space and data storage.

2. Determining later requirement

It may seem daunting, but planning for growth is essential. Whether your business is expanding or anticipating more traffic on your website, you need to know what capacity you’ll need down the road.

3. Planning for anticipated growth

It is essential, but it’s also important to be realistic about potential needs. It’s better to overestimate than underestimate, so don’t be afraid to think big!

4. Meeting current and future demand

It is the ultimate goal of capacity planning. Of course, you want to ensure you have enough resources available at all times, but it’s also important not to waste money on excess capacity.

5. Reviewing and adjusting plans

Reviewing and adjusting plans as needed will help your business grow steadily instead of haphazardly. No matter what kind of changes come up — whether they’re related to growth or anything else — you should always be willing and able to adapt!

6. Celebrating success

It may seem like an odd part of a process that requires so much focus and attention, but everyone deserves recognition after doing such hard work.

Whether this means throwing a party for employees, taking time off with family, or rewarding yourself another way, don’t forget to pause and appreciate all you’ve accomplished!

Different Capacity Planning Strategies

What is strategic capacity planning?

Strategic planning is the proactive part of capacity planning, ensuring that the enterprise has the resources to meet its long-term goals.

There are four common capacity planning strategies: the lead strategy, the lag strategy, the match strategy, and the adjustment strategy.

Lead strategy

Lead capacity planning is when you increase your capacity ahead of anticipated future demand to meet that demand as soon as possible.

In lead strategy, you can either add resources to your current system or expand your system. Adding resources is the most common way to increase capacity. However, you can do it as part of resource planning.

Lag strategy

The lag strategy is when you delay expanding capacity until after experiencing demand.

A lag strategy can be problematic since you may find yourself in a situation where demand has increased, and there’s no capacity to meet the demand.

Match strategy

The match strategy is adding capacity only after the ongoing capacity matches the current demand. This is the best for budgeting because you will only be buying capacity when needed.

However, this strategy does not work well with fast-changing demand. If the whole industry is changing, your capacity might not be enough to meet that change in demand, and you will have a bad customer experience.

Adjustment strategy

The adjustment strategy is gradual changes to either capacity or demand based on past performance.

For example, if you notice that you come close to or exceed your capacity during your busiest months, you will adjust by increasing your capacity in preparation. This strategy is an excellent method because it’s gradual and doesn’t have a lot of negative consequences if it fails.

Some more strategies


Forecasting is a common capacity planning technique used by many organizations to help anticipate future needs and plan for changes in demand.

By analyzing past trends and considering predicted future events, organizations can build models that help them predict more accurately how much they need to produce.

Anticipation model

A technique used for capacity planning is anticipation modeling, which focuses on forecasting future demand using historical data and then adjusting existing resources in advance of actual requirements to ensure smooth operations when demand increases suddenly or decreases substantially.


In some industries, outsourcing is becoming an increasingly popular capacity planning strategy.

Typically, companies will identify the services and processes critical to their success and then leverage an outside vendor or partner who can execute those processes more efficiently than they currently do.

Demand management

A related approach is demand management, which focuses on reducing expectations for a product or service to decrease overall demand and thus reduce capacity requirements.

While this may seem counterintuitive, many companies find that it improves customer satisfaction because lower-quality products delivered at a lower cost lead to more satisfied customers than higher-quality products delivered at a higher price.

Different Types of Capacity Planning

There are different types of capacity planning. Understanding which one will work best for your project management is essential.

Types of Capacity Planning

Resource Capacity Planning (Part of resource planning)

Resource planning is forecasting future resource needs and ensuring enough resources are available to meet demand. First, you need to identify the resources you need and then determine how much of those resources you will need.

You also need to plan for future growth and ensure that you have the resources to meet that growth.

There are a few different ways it can be determined:

  • Observation: You can observe how your resources are used and calculate their maximum capacity based on that information.
  • Interviews: You can interview your team members or other stakeholders to understand their maximum capacity.
  • Surveys: You can create surveys to obtain feedback from your team members or other stakeholders about their maximum capacity.
  • Historical Data: You can look at your historical data and use that to calculate capacity.
  • Capacity Planning Software: You can utilize software like SmartrTeam to help determine capacity.

Production Capacity Planning

This is the process of forecasting future production needs and ensuring enough facilities to meet demand. This includes planning for both short-term and long-term demand.

But first, you need to identify production capacity and ensure that you have the resources to meet that capacity.

Capacity Requirements Planning

Capacity requirements planning is the process of assessing future capacity needs and determining whether or not current capacity is sufficient to meet future demand. Capacity requirements can vary significantly from enterprise to enterprise.

However, some common factors need to be considered in all cases. You must identify present capacity and determine how much additional capacity you will need to meet future demands. You must also ensure that you have the resources to meet those demands.

Excess capacity planning

This is identifying and securing excess capacity to meet future demand. This may involve adding more resources or finding alternative ways to produce the product. Therefore, it’s essential to plan for short-term and long-range planning.

Difference between capacity plan and resource plan

Capacity planResource plan
Capacity planning is a way to help you figure out if your business can make enough products to meet customer demand and ensure that there are enough resources available to do the work that needs to be done.
Resource planning is a strategic procedure assigning resources to project activities based on resource needs.
This will help you decide whether you should hire someone or not. It will also help when deciding whether or not you should do something.The project manager uses this strategy to decide when to use which resources for their projects.
Capacity planning is concerned with ensuring enough of something to meet its demand.Resource planning is the process of allocating resources to different activities.

Tools and Systems

Businesses can use various tools and systems for capacity planning. One standard tool is Microsoft Excel, creating graphs and tracking data. Another tool that planners can use is Microsoft Projects. Project managers can use this software to create timelines and track resources as project management.

Other capacity planning tools that project managers can use include:

  • Capacity Planning Toolkit
  • Performance Scorecard Builder
  • Capacity Planning Template
  • Capacity Planning Worksheet
  • Capacity Planning Spreadsheet
  • Performance Scorecard Template
  • Portfolio Management Toolkit
  • Project Resource Planner (for project management and resource planning)

The company can use several third-party software products for capacity planning. Here is an example of some common ones:

Datastage Capacity Advisor

IBM’s Capacity Advisor is a tool used to help with capacity planning. The Capacity Advisor can predict subsequent requirements and help prevent capacity issues. The Capacity Advisor also helps with the identification of excess capacity.

IBM InfoSphere Optim Solutions Enabler Capacity Manager

IBM InfoSphere Optim Solutions Enabler Capacity Manager is essential for capacity planning. It helps you to understand and optimize your resource utilization. The Capacity Manager feature provides information on the following:

  • Present Capacity
  • Meet Demand
  • Resource Management

The Capacity Manager also helps you identify and plan for future requirements.

CA Technologies Workload Estimator

CA Technologies Workload Estimator is a tool that helps you plan for the future capacity needs of your enterprise. The tool uses historical data to make predictions, giving you a realistic estimate of your capacity needs.

The Workload Estimator considers workload growth, the number of users, and resource utilization.

Dell ClearApp Enterprise Edition

Dell ClearApp Enterprise Edition helps organizations manage their resources and capacity. The software can optimize the performance of applications by identifying and resolving potential resource contention.

Dell ClearApp also provides performance and capacity planning for virtualized and cloud-based environments. Dell ClearApp Enterprise Edition is a part of Dell’s Integrated Cloud Application and Infrastructure Management (ICAM) solution.

The list goes on and on, though! But, again, this is because so many different tools are available to help with capacity and project management.

This makes it easier to take advantage of the benefits of effective capacity planning strategies! However, it’s important to note that there is no “one size fits all” solution for capacity planning.

The best approach is to identify the tools that will work best for your specific situation and then use them to their fullest potential.

Who is Involved in Capacity Planning

Roles Involved in Capacity Planning

The roles involved in capacity planning can vary depending on the organization but typically include members from different enterprise areas, such as human resources, information technology, marketing, and manufacturing.

It is strategic planning that a company should regularly undertake to ensure the organization can meet its current and future demands.

Roles involved in it are :

Capacity Planner

Responsible for the collection and analysis of information, as well as for creating an actionable capacity plan. They work closely with business managers to understand their requirements and translate those into a technical context.

This includes identifying future demand patterns based on industry trends, sales forecasts, or any other factor that can help predict changes in resource usage (e.g., product growth, new initiatives, workforce increase).

The capacity planner gathers information throughout the organization to give decision-makers insight into current performance levels and what might happen in the future.

Operations Staff Member

An Operations Staff Member is an individual involved in the business’s day-to-day operations. They are responsible for ensuring that resources are available when needed and those production goals are met.

Business Manager

The individual is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the business unit/department. Therefore, they must understand their capacity requirements to make informed decisions about future growth or initiatives.

Information Technology (IT) Staff Member

They are involved in supporting and managing the technology infrastructure within the organization. This includes evaluating current systems, recommending upgrades/changes, and working with vendors to procure necessary hardware/software.

In some cases, they may also be involved in designing and building new applications or modifying existing ones to meet organizational needs better.

Marketing Staff Member

Part of the organization that is responsible for marketing and brand development. They understand current demand patterns, evaluate how new initiatives may impact future capacity needs, etc.

Human Resources (HR) Team Members

They guide hiring plans/targets, training requirements, etc. Therefore, they need to be consulted when assessing future resource demands.

Checklist for Identifying Resource Management Team Members

The following questions can help you determine which roles should be included as your team members:

  • Who knows the business’ production goals? How often will these change or remain stable? What factors might cause them to fluctuate?
  • Which staff members have daily visibility into operations – e.g., manufacturing plant managers, logistics supervisors, and supply chain project managers?
  • Who is responsible for decisions about future growth or initiatives – business managers, project managers, product development teams, etc.?
  • What capacity constraints most impact areas of the organization?
  • Do we have any IT staff members who can help us model resource requirements? How about marketing or HR staff who can provide input on forecasting future demand patterns?

By considering the answers to these questions, you should create a team with representatives from all key areas of the enterprise. This will ensure that all relevant perspectives are considered when making your capacity plan.


Capacity planning allows businesses to forecast future production needs and ensure they have the resources to meet demand.

  • It helps businesses optimize their resources and avoid costly overages or shortages.
  • It enables businesses to plan for future growth and expansion.
  • Effective capacity planning can help businesses manage their current resources more efficiently.
  • It can help businesses react quickly to changes in demand.

Resource management software can automate much of the capacity planning process, making it easier and faster for businesses to accurately picture their current and future needs.

Best Practices

Among many best practices, we are listing effective practices.

  • Ensure you have a clear understanding of your system requirements. That includes understanding your desired uptime, peak loads, anticipated growth, etc.
  • Work with vendors to understand their capabilities and limitations. Make sure you know what they can provide regarding resources and assistance.
  • Run load tests on your systems to get a realistic picture of performance under real-world conditions. That will help you identify potential bottlenecks and capacity issues before they cause problems in production.
  • Utilize monitoring tools to track key performance indicators (KPIs) in your production environments.

How to Determine Your Production Capacity?

To determine your production capacity, you must first understand your available resources. This includes understanding the amount of space you have, the number of workers you have, and the amount of equipment you have.

You also need to understand the time it takes to produce your product. Once you have these numbers, you can begin calculating your production capacity.

The production capacity is the maximum number of units your company can produce in a given period. It includes all resources, including labor hours and machines.

You can calculate the production capacity by multiplying the number of workers by the number of hours available and then multiplying that by the amount of time it takes to produce the product.

For example, let’s say that you have five workers available eight hours a day, and it takes two hours to produce your product. So the production capacity would be 40 units per day (five workers multiplied by eight hours multiplied by two hours).

It’s important to note that the production capacity is not a fixed number. It can change depending on the demand for your product. For example, if there is a high demand for your product, you may need to increase the number of workers or the time it takes to produce.

Developing a Capacity Plan

When developing capacity and resource plans, there are many factors to consider to ensure that the plan is effective.

The first step is to assess the current capacity of the organization. This entails studying the currently available resources and determining how the organization can use the capacity to meet current and future demands.

Once the live capacity has been assessed, strategies must be implemented to expand or contract production. The excess may be available and can meet future demand in some cases. However, it’s important to remember that excess can lead to inefficiencies and be used judiciously.

Use the right tools and software to ensure an accurate capacity plan.

Managing Future Requirements

It is essential to have adequate capacity planning to ensure an enterprise can meet later requirements. We can use several strategies for it.

One way is to figure out how many things can be made. This is called resource capacity. The other way is to figure out the number of things being made. This strategy is called production capacity.

In addition, it is also vital to consider excess capacity. A company can use excess capacity to meet demand spikes or cushion future growth.


What are the major problems of capacity planning?

One of the most critical challenges in capacity planning is determining when and how much capacity should be increased.

Increasing capacity too soon can lead to unnecessary costs, while doing it too late can result in lost sales and frustrated customers. So, getting the timing and the amount of capacity expansion right is essential for the success of a business.

If capacity planning is not done properly, it can lead to the loss of customers and business opportunities. This happens when a company doesn’t have enough capacity to produce what customers want, causing them to look for alternatives.

On the other hand, having excess capacity can be a drain on a company’s resources. It ties up money and other resources that could be used for more profitable ventures, such as new products or expanding into new markets.


Capacity planning is forecasting future business needs and ensuring that resources are available to meet those demands. It ensures that your enterprise has enough resources to meet current and future needs.

Capacity management involves a variety of capacity planning strategies, systems, processes, and input from various roles in the organization.

By doing strategic planning and considering factors such as production capacity, resource capacity, and impending requirements, you can create an effective capacity plan to help you meet demand now and in the future.