The Great Resignation has been wreaking havoc on the world of business since 2021 – and research shows it's not over yet. Stress has been cited as the main reason for workers quitting their jobs, and a 2022 study found that unmanageable workloads are ultimately contributing to burnout on a wide scale. As businesses search for ways to boost employee retention and meet the needs of their customers, many are turning to the topic of workload forecasting.
While it may sound odd to talk about forecasting in such uncertain times, the truth is that workload forecasting is key to ensuring successful project outcomes, while managing your resources sustainably. In this article, we'll break down the topic of workload forecasting, and how to leverage the right tools to achieve it. (Spoiler: no crystal balls involved!)
Workload forecasting is a process of predicting or anticipating the demands of ongoing and future projects. It is where project teams and stakeholders identify potential hiring and upskilling needs, as well as the risks involved in dealing with upcoming work.
As early as the planning phase, PMs employ techniques to prepare for upcoming projects, many of which are part of workload forecasting. For example:
These some of the essential questions that need to be addressed to establish effective workload forecasting.
Now that we know what workload forecasting is, here are the reasons why being able to forecast workload is essential in organizations.
Workload prediction is the foundation for appropriate resource allocation. After all, if you have no idea how much workload is coming into a team in the coming weeks, it's hard to ensure the team is properly resourced.
When PMs schedule resources through workload forecasting, the use and distribution of time, skilled employees, and indispensable resources are considered and saved for more specific functions in the future.
When you predict workload for upcoming projects, it becomes clearer when tasks are being unfairly distributed to the same handful of employees. This may result from unequal workload distribution or a high demand for specific skills. Early intervention in workload issues can prevent team members experiencing burnout or quitting their roles.
Analyzing actual data with visible workload components like productivity, employee satisfaction, and performance gives way to more skills-matched job functions and tasks. This in turn enables you to manage the load, balancing each person's capacity and responsibility.
With workload forecasting, team utilization and the availability of an agency's employees are plotted beforehand, taking into account the specialized skillsets that may be needed both within the team and through outsourcing.
This lets PMs prepare for expected risks like sudden increases and decreases in client volume, economic fluctuations, and other market considerations. In addition, individuals and teams realize their full potential, resulting in better results, satisfaction, and retention.
Here are four easy steps to workload forecasting for better resource management.
The first step is to evaluate your current workload compared to the capacity of your workforce. Do these two components match? Are the business's demands satisfied by the present talent, quantity, and utilization of your resources? By understanding what you already have, it will be easier to identify gaps to be addressed and areas for improvement.
PMs can also research using existing capacity planning data. Capacity plans can help determine if agencies have the required resources to produce the deliverables needed for completing the project.
The second step is to take charge of what is about to come through the project pipeline. By establishing an appropriate workload plan, tasks and assignments become equally distributed, and team members' physical and mental health is taken care of.
Workload planning helps analyze factors that keep the project running, such as recruitment, skillset gaps, and employee retention challenges. It should consider external factors like market fluctuations and economic trends, as well as internal ones like employee feedback and training.
Workload forecasting answers these details by looking into the current employee skills, utilization rates, and employee performance. It helps you develop the best possible estimates for both mid-term and long-term pipelines.
It's easy to get tied up in the day-to-day tasks, but remember that your company's workload, workforce, and work culture should parallel the organization's objectives. Is the business actually moving forward with its current workload? Are the forecasts showing the business scaling up as expected? By supplying what's missing and filling the work gaps, workload forecasts pave the way to improve an agency's scalability.
Connecting the company's vision, mission, and goals with the data from resource calendars, sales pipelines, and capacity and workload plans will help preserve the company's core principles and keep the team engaged.
When workload predictions influence the business model and processes, organizations should also aim to communicate and disseminate information across all departments to promote organizational transparency and avoid confusion.
Workload forecasting does not end with the implementation: it should also be tracked and updated to maintain the balance between supply and demand. When PMs fail to monitor changes in workload and capacity, resource deficits or surpluses may occur, which threaten the project's success. If you continually compare your progress to your workload predictions, you can identify issues in advance and intercept them before they create problems for your team.
Nowadays, careful workload forecasting can be done more quickly and accurately than before, thanks to technology such as AI and machine learning. And the great news is that you don't need to be particularly tech-minded to take advantage of the efficiency and insights these digital tools bring. While the average PM might struggle to code an Excel linear regression, or know their IEEE transactions from a VM migration, resource management software makes workload forecasting accessible to all.
The key to being confident in making quick and accurate workload predictions is teaming up with a tool like Runn, intelligent resource management software that works in a cloud environment. The tool enables you to effortlessly work on managing workload and resources, with deep-learning accuracy and advanced management features. With the aid of a tool like Runn, PMs can access capacity forecasting and insights, alongside complete visibility of team workload, with just one click.
Here are three ways that the right cloud workload prediction tool can help you get workload forecasting right, without excessive headaches or energy consumption.
Delegating staffing needs is labor-intensive and intricate, especially when handling multiple projects across the same resources. Runn offers the use of real-time charts like the capacity and workload charts that help you efficiently organize and plan for your anticipated resource needs.
Runn's capacity chart provides an overview of the workload forecast for each team member, as well as the overall team's capacity for that specific period. Approved and unconfirmed assignments can be visually represented, and you can customize the chart view using filters for job functions, tagged people, and projects in general.
Runn's capacity management features help project managers handle workload prediction and forecasts. Each project in the pipeline can be checked anytime to explore patterns in utilization, individual and team availability, and the overall pool of human resources. For work day and hour customization, managers can access everyone's schedules, skillset, locations, billable hours, and even leave and holidays at a glance.
With Runn's capacity management features, future workload forecasting and team analysis can help you make informed decisions about when and who to recruit, contract, and outsource.
Creating a master list of all team members' availability over time is no big deal with Runn's People Planner. Depending on an individual's utilization, booking a specialist for a particular role scheduled on a specific date and time can be hassle-free.
Resource capacity, utilization rates, and total available hours each week can be tracked and adjusted according to placeholder assignments you set up. The People Planner's summaries give you an overview of the forthcoming weeks, months, and years.
Professional service agencies or consultancies may find it helpful to identify who among their employees are overbooked or underbooked, and good candidates for future personal and business development programs.
Workload forecasting enables project managers to optimize resources for the present and the future. It lets PMs control the productivity and capacity of their personnel across all projects in the organization. Workload forecasting software is an essential tool for efficiently assessing workload requirements in the future, and it can make scheduling, allocating, and distributing resources easier than ever.
Many people aspire to become a team leader in their career - but what highs and lows might the role bring? We asked experienced leaders for their thoughts.
7 out of 10 of your employees might be struggling with burnout. And poor workload balancing is one of the root causes of the problem. Learn how to tackle it.