A large corporate office with no people in it

Why treating delivery capacity as a risk will never lead to success or happiness

Treating limited delivery capacity as a risk never leads to happy outcomes!

Doing so will challenge your programmes, and teams will hate working on them.

Risk is uncertainty, generating either a positive or negative result. The capacity you have today is constrained. People fall into the trap of calling it a risk because the capacity usually is less than what you wanted. But let’s face it, whenever do you have as many people as you need?! 

What are the issues with treating capacity as a risk?

  • False Expectations are created based on a plan that doesn’t align with fact.
  • Plans based on a fictitious organisational design will likely emphasise the impacts of bottlenecks in the process.
  • A lack of predictability in delivery, as you can’t deliver what you said you will.
  • Quality and customer satisfaction will suffer as corners are cut by those trying to deliver the work and meet unrealistic plans.
  • The programme will fail to meet its desired outcomes.
  • It will be a crappy programme to work on.

How to treat capacity as the constraint it is?

  • Understand what capacity you have. It is easier if you have long-lived stable teams dedicated to one thing. If this isn’t true, I suggest you do that too!
  • Plan around the capacity you have, not the capacity you want.
  • Optimise the flow of value to maximise throughput, including managing the queues where people, departments or functions hand off work to each other.
  • Accept, and sleep easily, that you will never have the capacity you want or ‘need’, so plan appropriately.

Agile frameworks utilise a capacity-based planning system. Being an empirical approach, they attempt to predict the future based on recent delivery capability. This leads to regularly updating the delivery roadmaps based on that new knowledge. Be prepared for not liking the answer – more on this subject in this article.

If you’d like to know more about how this works in real programmes, schedule a call.