Capacity Planning is not hard!

  • Posted on: 21 November 2022
  • By: leor
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Capacity planning: Are you doing it right? Check yes, or no.

I had a Scrum Master I was mentoring a while back tell me she was off to a meeting about capacity planning with her Release Train Engineer (it was a SAFe environment) and she was nervous because there was disagreement about how they should handle it, and tensions had begun to rise. I was immediately confused - why should such a simple topic be fodder for a cantankerous discussion? I gave her a simple method for establishing her team’s capacity for the next quarter, told her to relax, and sent her to the wolves.


An hour later she came back very annoyed and reported that they couldn’t come to a decision. That’s right folks, a group of Scrum Masters and Program Managers sat in a room for an hour to discuss capacity planning for the next quarter and exited the room without a decision. Has this happened to you? If it has, read on, and bookmark this article, and if you ever find yourself in a discussion about capacity that lasts more than 5 minutes, send them the link to this article, find a comfortable chair, and go enjoy your beverage of choice while dreaming of something pleasant.


Capacity Planning in an Agile environment in 5 minutes or less:


In this example we will capacity plan for the next quarter, let’s set the stage:


  • There are 7 team members
  • The team has a Velocity of 32
  • They want to establish how much they can deliver in the next quarter
  • They run 2 week sprints so there will be 6 sprints to cover
  • All team members present for a given sprint = 100% capacity


Steps to capacity plan:


  1. Send a message to the team asking them to send you any days off they have planned in the next quarter.
  2. Look at a calendar and note any holidays when the office is closed.
  3. Reduce the capacity of the appropriate sprints by the appropriate percent based on days off.


That’s it, you’re done.


Here is what that might look like measured in story points for the quarter:


Spreadsheet breaking down capacities of teams by sprint.


I’m off to have a cup of tea!