Your staff members are your most precious resource. Not only are they one of your biggest company expenses, they also can make or break the success of your business. Overworked staff members have poor performance and morale, while overstaffed departments waste money and talent.
But how do you know when you need to add headcount to your team for the most impact? Forecasting is the process of estimating future needs based on previous demand and qualitative data. When you apply forecasting to your resource management, you can create a strategic plan that drives your company growth.
Resource Utilization and Capacity
It starts with measuring your resource utilization. Since your team tracks their time on all of their work, you can analyze this data to understand where their effort is going. Depending on your business model, you should also account for how much of their time is billable. Understanding how your team spends their time helps you identify inefficiencies to address through system improvements and lays the groundwork for your resource planning.
The counter perspective to resource utilization is resource capacity. When you look at resource capacity, you can identify how much of a type of work you should be able to do, based on who has the skills, and how much of their time is allocated. You can also reserve or request resources to measure the impact that future plans will have on your future capacity.
Combining these two metrics – the historical look provided by utilization, and the planning metrics of capacity – gives you valuable insights to use in forecasting. To complete the forecasting puzzle, you need to apply business expectations. For example, you may know that your company is planning an acquisition that will require major integration efforts between the teams, or releasing a new product that will double your sales (and your implementations). With this business insight, you can compare your utilization and capacity to see when and where you need to add headcount.
Timing of Onboarding New Team Members
So far, you’ve been able to determine when you’ll need the efforts of new team members to maintain work balance. But when should you hire them? While you don’t want to have idle staff members before you need them, hiring too late won’t do you much good either.
To decide when to hire new team members, review your employee onboarding schedule. How long does it take from their first day for them to be productive members of the team? Is it 30 days? Or 60? Then, add to that timeline how long recruiting takes. This may take another 30 days – or more, depending on the complexity of the role.
While it’s tempting to use a just-in-time strategy for hiring these new team members in order to save on their salary costs, there’s a lot more at stake by bringing them on too late. Onboarding new team members adds to the workload of your existing team members – not to mention that the change in team dynamics can create additional stress. If your existing team has to split their attention between project work and onboarding new team members, their productivity on both will decrease.
Using resource forecasting, business planning, and understanding your onboarding timelines can help you maintain your employee productivity through all of your growth cycles.