Capacity Planning: It’s Not Just for Manufacturing

Don Johnston, CEO & President, CAS Adaptive Solutions, Titusville, FL, USA

Co-Speaker: Bonnie Stone, Market Development Manager, Minitab, Inc.

Keywords: Capacity Planning, Capacity Plan, Government

Industry: Government

Level: Intermediate


Local governments often consider themselves polar opposites from manufacturers. Phrases like “production” and “capacity planning” seem foreign to many local government managers; but these managers are missing a big opportunity to increase their organizations’ services and better satisfy their customers and local citizens. Governmental organizations produce output, from building permits to summer camps; in other words, they perform “production”, and as such, they need to manage capacity.

Capacity Planning is all about matching outputs (products and services) to available resources (primarily people) and it’s that latter part that really does ring a bell with government managers. Most local governments suffer from lack of resources; it is their constant battle. One side of this battle is waged in the political forum of budgeting. But the other side of the battle, meeting customer demand for services with the limited resources available, is often waged with relatively archaic tools and methods. A good Capacity Plan can remedy this situation by forming a quantifiable strategy or game plan for applying resources to demand.

This presentation describes the elements of an effective Capacity Plan in a government organization and strategies for building and using this plan to improve performance. We will present different methods for baselining current performance, identifying “families” of products and services, building a spreadsheet for quantifying resource needs based on demand for services, and graphical methods for displaying areas that need management attention.

The Capacity Plan can be used to make daily decisions about resource assignments, monthly decisions about hiring personnel, and annual decisions about budget requirements. Furthermore, the Capacity Plan highlights leverage points where Lean Six Sigma projects will have the greatest impact.

The Capacity Plan also provides a helpful means for assessing and dealing with demand variability. As such, the plan offers the manager a way to smooth production, creating a more predictable and professional work environment for employees.

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