Knowing that you have the ability with your team to meet production plans can be the difference between success and failure. In order to know if goals are realistic and attainable, you need to know the capacity of your team.

Overview: What is team capacity?

Team capacity can be defined as the ratio of units a team takes on that is measured in relation to the maximum units of work that team is capable of in a given time period.

4 benefits of team capacity

There are some clear benefits to having the appropriate team capacity:

1. It ensures you have the right resources for a project

Knowing your team capacity helps you be sure you can meet the demands required by a project.

2. Preventing scope creep

Having the correct team capacity can prevent scope creep as well as prevent there from being too much pressure on your team.

3. Optimization of team bandwidth

Proper use of team capacity aligns your team’s ability with the availability of new projects. It makes for easier decision-making when it comes to staffing.

4. Minimizing production costs

By being able to properly allocate the resources of your team, you will avoid putting too many people on one project and not enough on another, thereby minimizing the cost of production.

Why is team capacity important to understand?

Team capacity is important to understand for the following reasons:

Burnout prevention

Having an understanding of the capacity of your team can help prevent employee burnout.

Future planning

By understanding team capacity, you can better prepare for taking on future projects with your team.


With a grasp of how team capacity works, you are better equipped to be transparent to stakeholders about project expectations.

An industry example of team capacity

A factory that specializes in gingerbread houses needs to prepare for the upcoming holiday rush. In order to be prepared, an estimation of the current team capacity is made so that it can be decided how many temporary workers may be needed for the season.

3 best practices when thinking about team capacity

Here are some key practices to consider when evaluating team capacity:

1. Align team capacity with demand

To do this, forecast the anticipated demand. Figure out what your required capacity will be. Make a calculation of the current capacity of your team. Make a measurement of the capacity gap and then align your team capacity with the demand.

2. Pick a team capacity planning strategy.

There are three main team capacity planning strategies.

Lead strategy is a method where you simply increase the production capacity when you anticipate a high demand. An example of this would be how retailers or mail services plan to hire seasonal workers for the holidays.

Lag strategy is the increase of production capacity in order to meet demand in real-time. An example of this would be having additional workers on-call.

Match strategy planning is a combination of the other two. An example would be slowly adding more workers incrementally throughout the night at a restaurant until a rush has passed.

3. Variables

The first step in proper team capacity planning is to be aware of the variables that are involved and to plan accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about team capacity

Aside from just adding more workers, how is team capacity built?

It will take time, clear intentions, and providing structure/routine to build from.

What is velocity in relation to team capacity?

Velocity is merely used in order to help a team in forecasting its capability in a specific sprint. It is a measure of the work done in the previous sprint while capability is the availability expected of the members of the team in an upcoming sprint.

How do you estimate team capacity?

In order to make the best estimate for team capacity, there are a few steps involved. First, you will want to decide how detailed you want your estimate to be. You could figure it out by hand or use software that can give potentially more accurate results. Next, you will choose an estimation unit and a period of time for the estimates. You will then define your teams, mindful of variables such as availability. Next, you will set a date for target completion, make an estimation of the work, and assign teams to the work. Finally, you can make comparisons of different scenarios to see if each team has the necessary capacity.

Team capacity and meeting goals

Being able to look at the capacity of your team and if it can meet the demands of a project is important in keeping the trust of your customers. You do not want to take on more than you are able to and then not deliver on promises. Also, you do not want to overextend your workers in the pursuit of a goal and have them completely burn out. Knowing the capacity of your team and understanding when adjustments need to be made will make for happier customers as well as employees.

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