Product Launch


New Product Launch from pCapacity – Resource Planning for Development Managers

pCapacity is a new and unique approach to modeling medium range software engineering project and product roadmaps, balancing resources, budgets, skills, and scheduling.  It is rapid to get started, and has a novel user interface allowing the CEO and other stakeholders to easily ask ‘what if…’ questions.

Portland, OR – November 6th, 2009

pCapacity launched its new product geared directly to the needs of software development managers, directors, VP’s and CTO’s.  Paul Irvine, founder and president, a 30 year technology veteran who has been in that hot seat VP Technology and Engineering role for the last 8 years, says “forecasting resources and projects over the 18 month timeline is the hardest job there is – it’s like nailing jello to the wall!”. The consequences for getting it wrong can be dire.  Irvine continues, “I literally got fired for signing up to a marketing product roadmap, that hadn’t been quantified – I was busy on other missions and took an educated guess. And got it wrong! Mea culpa. But it will never happen again, and now other engineering managers can benefit too.”

Irvine, a three time honoree of CIO Magazine’s prestigious CIO 100 award, and consultant to some of the largest global enterprises, points to the complete lack of understanding of the problem space by traditional project management firms.  “Managing one project is easy. But this isn’t about Gantt charts and dependencies.  Building a multi-project budget model that you can quantify and stand behind is really tough.”

Irvine says he searched over the years for something like this solution but it just doesn’t exist.  The problem faced by engineering managers is assembling the data at a high enough level that it can be done in a few days, but at a detail enough level that the resource impacts are quantifiable.  And many of the projects are just marketing ideas or concepts, but you still have to work on an objective basis with the team.  Having done that, the next headache is doing the what-if analysis.  Having worked diligently on a candidate plan in your favorite scheduling or spreadsheet tool, the first thing your CEO asks is “What if I put in another $500k? Can we have everything by Spring?” Or “what if we drop ProjectXYZ?” With pCapacity, it is as simple as drag-and-drop the projects on the calendar and instantly see impacts on utilization, resource consumption, and budgets.  It is so easy, a VP Marketing can use it. Amusing perhaps, but that is actually the point. “Developing a sound product roadmap or project portfolio is crucial to aligning the entire organization’s sales and marketing and technology efforts” said Irvine. pCapacity lets senior management collaborate and test assumptions together before committing.

Under Promise and Over Deliver has been the mantra for over 20 years. In this economy, it doesn’t work. At the personal level, sandbagging may work once but it trains your stakeholder to expect more than you promise. Worse, it may result in the organization being unable to achieve strategic goals in a competitive marketplace – which means the entire company can suffer, sometimes drastically.

Over promising on roadmaps has several symptoms. Prioritization seems to be the major topic every day, and constant juggling of resources to meet significant delivery dates. There tends to be more reliance on individual superstars in the team.  This leads to a high stress, fire fight organization that somehow ‘gets it done’, but every project is the most important one.  These are sure signs of poor long range capacity planning, but with firm commitments on major milestones.

Long range estimates are often educated guesses but with little validation. Quantifying the impact of each project against all others as delivery dates change is the hard part.  pCapacity puts some light discipline around the process so that stakeholders can quickly get to the analysis stage. Identifying skill bottlenecks; looking for seasonal trends that drive planning; assessing which projects move the organization towards achieving its 2+ year objectives.  In manufacturing circles, this has been dubbed Rough Cut Capacity Planning, and that’s exactly what pCapacity allows the software engineering manager to achieve.

pCapacity is ideal for any software development team, whether product oriented, or enterprise project focused, that has more than about a dozen resources to budget for. It is an inexpensive, fast, and easy solution to the problem faced by all Engineering Directors, VP’s and CTO’s – aligning and balancing budgets, resources, skills, projects and schedules to meet the business goals.


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