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Capacity Planning and Resource Management for Kanban teams.

Looking for input on how best to do capacity planning and resource planning in JIRA Software cloud. We have a set of workstreams that are working in a kanban fashion, handling tasks across a multitude of projects based on priority managed by PMO and resource manager. We do not have good data for estimation of tasks, or historical data around how much time spent on tasks. 
Looking for advice on how to best get started to get to a place where we can do solid estimation, and have ability to understand capacity in these workstreams. 



Hi Ken,

Great question! Many organizations with multiple teams working on multiple projects have some initial trouble finding the right setup to do effective resource management and scheduling. But it is absolutely doable!

You have some great options that include Portfolio for Jira, BigPicture, and others. Here are some keys we've learned:

  1. Discovering and defining your specific internal requirements, both immediate and potentially over the long term
  2. Understanding how that will interact with the way that your team actually works day to day
  3. Insuring you get highly accurate data by incentivizing the teams to participate in the shared responsibility of keeping the system up to date by providing them with a high return on their investment of time in Jira

You may want to reach out to an Atlassian Solution Partner (like us) that has extensive Scrum and Kanban experience and expertise in deploying Jira at scale for PMO organizations. We'd be happy to chat and share some of our experiences. 

Feel free to look us up at or call anytime to 866-250-4157.

Good luck, 

Ericka Samuels
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Apr 19, 2018

I think you should try to see that there are two separate exercises here:  1. gathering the data (a. your list of resources, b. what their working schedules are, c. how many hours a day they have to work on each project, d. what the list of tasks is, e. how much time each task will take, f. when each task is due)   2. choosing a tool with which to track and manage your resource allocations

My opinion: #1 is much more difficult, and can be worked on independently of tool selection.  Theoretically, if you have all the #1s, you could use Excel or a good whiteboard (exaggerating a bit but you get my point).

I use BigPicture for #2 and I love it, but we do all waterfall.  BP is well suited for conventional project mgmt and lends itself really well to linear SDLCs and waterfall projects.  I do not know how helpful it will be for Kanban, but you could ask the vendor, or get the free trial and play with it.

All tooling aside, you're right, the difficult part of this is getting the task level of effort. 

this article might help:

And then there's brainstorming:

1. See if there's any historical places you can look at (if you have a timesheet system either in JIRA like Tempo, or outside of JIRA)

2. or if you use hourly rate or 1099 employees they probably submit timesheets. 

3. You can ask the task owners to give you an estimate to start with. 

4. If you have any other project managers around who use MS Project outside of JIRA maybe they have some of the tasks in prior project plans.

5. if you've been using JIRA for a while, and filling in story points, you could mine the resolved issues.

at a certain point you just have to pick a number and go with it, and adjust as you go along.   


Make sure that when people give you the estimates, that you are looking for the 'Work'.  That's what MS-Project calls it.  JIRA calls it the 'Original Estimate' field (which you can configure to be either hours or story points).  It is also known by humans as the level of effort (LOE). Most tasks are what MS-Project calls "fixed work tasks". That means the the amount of Work to be done stays the same, but could go faster or slower by adding or removing people.

So the Work or OE,  is the # of hours it will take regardless of how many people work on it, and regardless of how much of their time they can spend on this task vs others. 

Another way to say this is, the Work is NOT the duration.  If a task is 16 hours of Work,and 2 people work on it full time, then it will take only 1 day in duration. 


I hope this helps and I hope I didn't clutter up your answer with a bunch of stuff you already know. And there is no easy answer! 

Good luck

Like Jo Stringer likes this


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