The Annual Project Portfolio Capacity Planner

DON’T YOU WISH YOU COULD JUST PUT YOUR PROJECT PORTFOLIO ON RAILS?

Managing resource capacity across a portfolio of projects can be a real hassle. Top-down estimates tend to be too inaccurate, while detailed bottom-up estimates are time consuming to put together. To make things worse, a portfolio manager often needs to rely on their project managers entering data into expensive, top-heavy portfolio management systems before they’re able to make annual budget estimates.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were something in the middle?

Now there is! Introducing the annual project portfolio capacity planner. Designed specifically for project portfolio managers to use during budget time, this tool helps you juggle resources across all of your different projects, using something you likely already have on your desktop: Microsoft Excel.

Here’s a video showing you how it works.

FEATURES:

  • Up to ten different resource types
  • Up to twenty-five different projects
  • Up to five phases per project
  • No macros of any kind. This interactive workbook is fully functional on any level of security.
  • Clean tabs designed to be logical, easy to read and still contain all your data.
  • Extreme ease-of-use.
  • This is just Excel? Really?
  • Slick GUI lets you slide your projects back and forth against one another just like they’re on rails.

Although I normally give my Excel tools away for free, I put a lot of love into this one. However, times are tough. People don’t have money to burn on tools the way they used to. That’s no excuse for sloppy portfolio organization!

To help you, I’m offering this tool on a “Pay What You Want” basis. I’m suggesting a price of $40 if you think this tool will be useful to you. However, if you don’t have $40, you can pay $20. Or $5. Or, if this horrible economy is sucking for you just a little bit more than for other people, you can take this tool for absolutely nothing and still get 100% of the functionality that people who pay full price for this little gem will get!

  • "SUPER IMPRESSIVE" (@journeymanpm)
  • "WOW! IT'S JUST LIKE USING AN ABACUS!"

Disclaimer: If you choose to pay for this workbook, I will support you as best as I am able. However, there are limitations built into this file that I won’t be able to alter without extensive rework. You can have unlimited resources, but a maximum of 25 projects, 5 phases per project and 10 resource types. Also note that this workbook uses a special “alternate half” rounding to calculate project phase start and end dates from percentage estimates. Alternate half rounding is far more accurate than Excel’s default (arithmetic) rounding, but may still result in very slight drift. This workbook does not replace the need to maintain detailed project plans.

And now, without further ado,

YOU CAN PAY HERE (NOW OR LATER)...

Pricing Options

AND DOWNLOAD THE FILE HERE!

DOWNLOAD

ppm-portfolio-capacity.xlsx
Microsoft Excel Workbook – No Macros
776KB

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: Why do you offer “pay what you want”? Aren’t you afraid you’ll be taken advantage of?

A: To the second half of the question, “yes and no”. Every once in awhile I think about forcing payment but to the first half of the question, this tool is meant as a giveback to the PM community. Some people really can’t afford a tool like this but still need one. Some people might find that the tool isn’t to their liking and they don’t want to make the investment. Really, I only feel taken advantage of when I get technical support questions from people who intend to just grab the file and run.

Q: Can I add more projects / phases / resources to this file than those provided?

A: Not at present. It’s important to remember that this is still just a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel. I find if I build too much complexity into this workbook, Excel’s performance starts to degrade (i.e., becomes slower, less responsive, screen refresh becomes choppy, etc.). Periodically I open the hood on this file to find ways I can make it more efficient to improve the depth of the different dimensions but for the moment this feels like a good balance of analysis for performance.

Q: Can you tell me how your calculations work?

A: While I’m happy to share details with customers who paid for the workbook I get a lot of requests to provide information about my logic from people who I never hear from again (and who take advantage of the “pay what you want” feature to get free technical support). This makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Once you’ve paid for the workbook I’ll feel a little bit better telling you whatever you’d like to know. No disrespect.

Q: Can you add more features to this workbook? I love it but there are so many more things I’d like to do with it.

A: Sadly not at present. I’d love to make this workbook even more fabulous but it’s important to remember that this isn’t software-as-a-service and isn’t driven by a relational database. It’s just a spreadsheet that has some pretty neato functionality, and is limited by it’s parent software (Excel). If your needs are more rigorous that what I provide here I strongly urge you to consider a more robust capacity management solution. They’re a lot more money, but they’ll likely have the features that you’re looking for.

 

I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
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  • Traci Green

    I had a chance to test out the spreadsheet. It provides a remarkable snapshot of reality! We have a situation where 4 managers can assign projects to the same resource pool. I was looking for something to help prove WHY we’re so overbooked. This proves that timing and priority is necessary. Thank you!

  • Traci, that’s a WONDERFUL endorsement, thank you so much! This workbook grew out of my own struggles with the exact same problem. My resources were regularly being poached but I didn’t recognize the problem until it was almost too late. Using this device lets me see exactly where my skill shortages are so I can take remedial action. It also gives me actionable intelligence I can show my senior stakeholders. I find senior folks to be extremely helpful – as long as they can see the true picture.

  • Nors Wood

    Hi Geoff. I am looking for a simple to understand project management tool in order to prepare for Cat B fit out of our new offices. I don’t mind paying the full rate, but could I ask if it is suitable for my needs and also can I email the spreadsheet to my work. We work on on Window/ Citrix? Thanks

  • Hi Geoff,

    Great tool!! This has been a great help for our year start and planning!

    I wondered if you might be able to offer some insight on how you would approach showing a task/phase that runs for the duration of a project in a none waterfall method.

    For example:

    A PM on a project is involved in planning, at say 15% of project total at the beginning, however they are also involved in the project on going for whole duration, probably another 15%.

    From what I gather, the graph would current show the 15% planning at the beginning, then move on to the next phase, then the next, etc etc.

    How can I show a % for the duration of the project? I thought about adding a PM phase but it would need to be 100% of the project at a reduced FTE (does the FTE work if I use, 0.5. 0.4. 0.8 etc etc as a percentage of 1.0 to show a resource not working full time on a phase)…but that doesn’t seem to work, I believe the phase totals must equal 100%.

    I hope that makes sense.

    Thanks again.

    Ryan
    VisitScotland.com
    Digital Delivery Manager

  • Hi, Ryan! Your question makes perfect sense. I deliberately stayed away from constraining the phase names in the workbook because I recognize that not everybody wants to work with a waterfall type approach. For example, you may have Agile projects in your portfolio which would work a bit differently.

    However, even from an Agile perspective, there are resourcing changes over the course of the project. You may find a longer initiation phase during ramp up and two or three key points where you add more resources to start your iterations. Then you start to offload them as your project winds down.

    In these cases, you could look at your “phase” milestones as important changes to your resource makeup over the life of the project. The phases would be a bit looser but still represent the number of resources at your disposal.

    For example, “Initiation – 15%”; “Iterations Wave 1 – 20%”; “Iterations Wave 2 – 30%”: Iterations Wave 3 – 20%”; “Closure – 15%”. You are correct that phase totals must equal 100%, but the percentage of individual resource allocations to each group do not. You could drop your PM utilization to 10% for all projects and have the PM only be 80% utilized – that would be perfectly fine.

    Does that help? Shoot me an e-mail through the contact form at the bottom if you need further clarification.

    Cheers!

  • Karen Dagerman

    Hi! I just wanted to thank you – this tool is saving my life right now. I downloaded it yesterday and added my info today, came back and paid the full price. This is a dream tool for someone with responsibility for capacity planning with only a little PM background. It’s fantastic, and does exactly what I need!

    I work for a small company where many of the employees wear multiple hats, and I have been defenseless when telling Marketing or Engineering that I can’t spare any resources for their projects at this time, but also explaining to Sales that all projects cannot start and end at the same time. This is the best visual representation I’ve seen that is flexible enough for me to make it work for our unique delivery model.

    Thanks again!!

  • Karen, I’m so glad you found this! You are the exact kind of person I made this workbook for! Resourcing can be SUCH a pain – it’s like this crazy jigsaw puzzle that you not only have to put together without any instructions, but also communicate it’s nature to all your colleagues who completely underestimate it.

    Not many people seem to know this is here but I’m very glad you’re finding it helpful. And hey, thanks for full price! I’m starting my Masters in the fall and can use it! LOL

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