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Iryna Viter

Unboxing the 9 Best Capacity Planning Tools (Free & Paid)

When a company wants to scale, the need for capacity planning software becomes a major concern. This article explores nine capacity planning tools and how they can improve business processes.

In the world of resource management, capacity planning software can make your life much easier. Automated updates and real-time visibility over resources means you can save time and money, completing projects on schedule and on budget.

Traditional manual capacity planning techniques are labor-intensive and error-prone. Spreadsheets might start out looking tidy, but require a lot of work to maintain. 

With resource capacity planning software, you can get much better visibility and insights over your resource capacity at the click of a button. You can share insights with managers and teams for resource synchronization, making your project run smoother and more efficiently.

In this article, we’ll run through some of the strengths and advantages of nine of the best capacity planning software on the market. 

The importance of using capacity planning software

A capacity planning tool is something that allows you to forecast your future resource needs and allocate resources at the right time. 

For example, if you’re running an IT company or consultancy, it will help you find unoccupied people with the right skills for the upcoming projects. Businesses that are rapidly expanding or experiencing bursts of high demand must ensure that they have the resources available to handle the increasing number of projects. As a result, capacity planning has become an essential aspect of many companies’ strategic planning.

This may seem like something you can do manually, but one of the big advantages of capacity planning software is that it accounts for fluctuations and changing situations automatically.

There are a large number of things that can affect the exact resource requirements and timings, particularly in projects with multiple stages and dependencies.

Capacity planning software provides visibility helping project managers understand exactly how things are playing out.

Other benefits of capacity planning software include:

  • Eliminating the guesswork from demand forecasts and resource planning
  • Identifying potential bottlenecks in advance
  • Analyzing team productivity and workload for better labor management
  • Automating resource scheduling
  • Avoiding wait times for pre-booked, critical resources
  • Saving time on crunching numbers and building capacity models in Excel

Capacity planning software also helps to avoid resource clashes, delays and confrontations. This is particularly beneficial in larger organizations with competing departments and priorities, and finite resources.

9 best capacity planning tools

There are a range of different capacity planning softwares on the market, so how do you know which is best for you? These tools can target a specific problem, or aim to deliver capacity planning solutions in different ways. 

These are nine of the best capacity planning tools available now, what makes them so good, and how they can help project managers today. 

1. Runn - Best capacity planning for IT Services

capacity planning tools

Runn is a free sophisticated resource management tool that’s designed with project managers, operations leads, and resourcing managers at the forefront. It’s highly visual and engaging, which brings insights to life and really aids understanding of your capacity management

Users can see all projects and resources at once with a bird’s eye view calendar, which makes it easy to identify resource risks and double-bookings. As well as high-level capacity reports, you can drill down into specific team members to understand how well they’re being utilized, including in real-time. This includes monitoring an employee’s split between billable and non-billable work. 

The multi-layered universal calendar can be filtered down to departments, roles or other custom tags for specific visibility and understanding that you just can’t get in a spreadsheet. 

On top of that, Runn’s capacity charts are a real find if you need to maximize your resources. They visualize the scheduled workload your resources have next to the available time. This means that you can easily see where there is still some capacity you can use up and where you need to add more resources to ensure balanced workloads for everyone. You can structure the charts to reflect the time frame you need, along with special tags to filter the information by teams, roles, skills, and other criteria relevant to you.

TPG, one of Runn’s loyal customers, finds resource capacity planning particularly useful in their projects as they have around 600 people and somewhere between 30 and 40 projects running at the same time in Runn.

The capacity planning we had done in Excel - which had taken weeks - well, when we did that same work in Runn, it was completed in two days. - Cindy Tan, General Manager of IT Planning in TPG

Runn is also one in a kind of its own that allows you to control your project financials

Continue reading: From Weeks to Two Days - How TPG Telecom Streamlined Their Capacity Planning with Runn

2. Toggl - Visualizing your team’s schedule

capacity planning tool

Toggl aims to empower project managers to utilize resources and staff as much as possible, without crossing over into over-working or putting too much stress on resources. Aimed primarily at agencies, Toggl helps you track the time your people spend working on projects so you can find ways to optimize their performance and bill your customers for all the work provided by your team. 

Toggl’s own message is Productive over busy, which illustrates what it’s designed to achieve. An Estonian software, Toggl is made to be easy to use, so you can get straight up and running.

Calendars and projects can be shared with clients on a customizable basis, and it’s also designed with remote teams in mind. Flexible tasks can be drawn up with as much, or as little, information as is needed, and drag and drop timelines enable visual roadmaps for specific projects and resources.

3. Float - For better capacity management in creative agencies

As well as being a fantastic capacity management and planning software, Float brings visibility and understanding to teams and individuals working on projects too. 

Teams and team members can be assigned titles and roles to bring universal project visibility across all departments. You can also set default work hours and have customized availability for individuals, which also boosts the understanding of all project stakeholders.

Float’s capacity planning is built on a people-first approach. It aims to give you a granular view of your team's schedule to plan capacity and assign work with confidence. Another benefit here is that you get to plan your capacity within one platform, accounting for things like vacation time, syncing calendars and local holidays, and even setting custom work hours and locations. All of this helps you streamline your project management workflow with relevant milestones, phases, dependencies, and tentative scenarios. 

Another intuitive feature allows capacity planners to identify skills or resource gaps ahead of time, to assist hiring or contracting in advance.

Float integrates with common workplace systems such as Slack and Asana, and while it only has paid plans, it does offer a free trial. 

4. Resource Guru - Blissfully simple resource scheduling

capacity planning tool

Resource Guru offers different levels of paid plans to help manage human resources and other bookings. It’s useful for giving you visibility over in-demand individuals, or team members that are being under-utilized.

Features include alerts for booking clashes to avoid last-minute compromises, calendar visibility for all team members and departments, and an integrated leave management system for booking time off.

As a user, you can filter out custom resource features such as skills or business area, drag and drop functionality and an availability bar that helps you to see who’s available, when, and for how long. 

In short, Resource Guru gives you a bird’s eye view of availability across your teams so you can spot under-capacity early on and maximize the potential of your resources from day one. 

You can filter your people by skill, department, and location to make data-driven decisions and have realistic expectations from your upcoming projects. On top of that, you get to constantly monitor utilization levels to better understand whether you need to adjust your staffing levels. 

Resource Guru stands out because of its simplicity and calendar views and is a perfect solution to manage people's schedules, but companies tend to outgrow it quickly, looking to add more functionality to their tech stacks, such as more project planning features or project budget management.

Its basic plan starts from $3/user per month.

5. 10,000ft by Smartsheet - For simple resource allocation and planning

tool for resource capacity planning

Workplace collaboration software Smartsheet acquired SaaS capacity planning company 10,000 ft in 2019, and the result is an excellent capacity planning software.

It has simple resource allocation that allows project managers to find the best team/individual for a given task, accurate pipeline projections, and pre-populated timesheets that make it easy for staff to submit their hours.

Smartsheet is also able to generate insightful reports that allow users to identify trends, understand business performance in different areas, and make further growth plans with the availability of resources front of mind.

This tool helps its users pioneer new ways of working, where you can always capture and track your plans, resources, and schedules. It helps you accurately forecast hiring needs and keep all the workflows on track.

Same as Toggl, it gives your resources the option to register their time so you can track how your resources spend their productivity hours and bill your clients fair. To make it easier for users, Smartsheet offers pre-filled timesheets with an intuitive design which means you don’t need prior training to get started.  

Smartsheet also integrates with other CRM and workplace communication tools to create unified, simple project updates and communication. 

6. Mavenlink - Purpose-built for resource management

software for resource and capacity forecasting

Mavenlink provides connection, efficiency and insights that make capacity planning simple and easy. It pitches itself as a disruptive software that’s modern and in tune with what today’s project managers need.

Users get instant understanding of staffing demands both now and in the future, and can allocate additional resources to projects as needed. Up to the minute perspectives give real time visibility over budgets, spending, resourcing and timelines. There’s a strong degree of control that allows users to take action and make impactful changes at the click of a button. 

You can also forecast effectively and generate valuable reports that all contribute to sound capacity planning and productivity. 

But as of recently, Mavenlink and Kimble have joined forces to become Kantana, which means more functionality and a bigger impact. The tool helps you forecast capacity with hard and soft allocations so you can always easily balance supply and demand for your resources. This, in turn, will help you reduce staffing times and enable real-time responsiveness.  

7. Saviom - Detailed capacity reports and demand planning

resource demand and capacity planning software

As with many other capacity planning softwares, Saviom illustrates resource utilization both in real time and into the future to allow for better planning. Users can see the demand for individual resources, book resources when they’re needed and build out strategies for times where resources are unavailable.

One of the advantages of Saviom over other capacity planning softwares is that it has features designed to adjust to changing circumstances. Users can adjust timelines, retrain employees and add to their workforce if needed - and Saviom helps to identify when these (and other) contingencies are needed.

Saviom also incorporates business-wide resource visibility for a total understanding of capacity and demand.

8. Birdview PSA - All-in-one capacity planning software for professional services firms

tools for capacity planning

Birdview PSA is a full-cycle solution for service delivery teams that combines robust resource, project, and financial management functionalities within a single centralized platform. Thanks to advanced capacity planning tools, your managers can identify and fix team underloading and always find the right people for the job to maximize your resource utilization in real time.

With Birdview PSA, you can create insightful BI-powered reports that take into account any changes in the team’s schedule, as well as the project timelines, to help you accurately plan your future resource needs and keep up with the deadlines. These reports can be used to make any resource-related decisions and help you figure out whether you have enough resources to fulfill your current tasks or to take over new projects.

Birdview PSA also integrates with 2,000+ of the most popular tools and can be used as a core of your business environment.

9. Forecast - Project management & capacity planning in one tool

Forecast has recently added capacity planning to their full-suite PSA software. If you're on the lookout for the tool to manage your creative agency work (projects and tasks) and combine it with resource planning and financial management, it might be a good option. Suitable for professional services companies of 50+ employees, Forecast makes it easy to assign work and collaborate cross-functionally.

As stated in their recent press-release, the new key features of capacity planning include:

  • Placeholders to scope resources without committing a specific person
  • AI-based recommendations for staffing based on availability, skills, role
  • Soft allocations to tentatively book preferred resources
  • Win probability incorporated into the capacity overview to visualize the likelihood of a project happening and its impact on resources

Final thoughts

All in all, capacity planning software is a staple tool for project managers today - they’re generally fairly cheap and make a significant difference to the ease and efficiency of project planning

As with many other softwares, many have cheap or budget options that come without some of the most advanced features and functions. These value-add features can enable significant efficiencies in terms of fully utilizing resources. 

Runn capacity planning software gives you the best of all aspects of capacity planning. Affordable and intuitive, it’s among the best capacity planning software for its usability and insightfulness. See how Runn can help your capacity planning needs with a free demo today.

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