6 problems with resource planning in Excel & how to solve them

Resource managers often leverage Excel templates for capacity planning. Should they?

To plan a project properly, it’s important to predict its budget and time frame accurately. The tools you use are critical.

Of course, this can be notoriously difficult to do, but you can get better at it with practice. Estimating the budget and time frame begins with planning resources. How many people will you need? How much time will they each invest in the project?

Why resource planning in Excel fails

Many project managers rely on spreadsheets to support them in their resource planning, and not without reason. Spreadsheets are familiar and most of us have been working with them for years. That said, when it comes to capacity planning for big or important projects, spreadsheets have some real drawbacks.


  • Spreadsheets can easily be inaccurate

Your employees are human, and when they are busy or stressed they are prone to making mistakes. Using a capacity planning spreadsheet, employees can easily add incorrect data, enter a typo, or accidentally replace a formula with a static value, rendering a calculation useless. 

  • Spreadsheets use up time

A resource planning Excel sheet is not ideal because you and your employees probably spend a fair amount of time comparing and cross-checking timesheets, reports and other documentation. In addition, you often have to enter data multiple times across several documents.

  • Spreadsheets make collaboration difficult

When you have multiple people manipulating the same spreadsheet, you can’t control changes or always ensure that you are working with the latest version. Even if you send the spreadsheet to one stakeholder at a time, you can seriously slow down the process.

  • Spreadsheets are one-dimensional

Spreadsheets don’t allow you to see the status of a project or measure its progress. You can’t gain a complete view of the project or see how one component relates to the other, and you spend too much time deciphering that information from lines of data.

  • Spreadsheets aren’t visual

Ideally, you should be able to see at a glance which of your resources are available—and which are overbooked—so that you can allocate tasks appropriately. Spreadsheets just don’t offer you that option.

  • Spreadsheets aren’t embedded in Jira

When you use Excel sheets, you have to add and remove resources manually. Spreadsheets are not integrated with other tools like Jira and thus can be cumbersome and time-consuming to maintain.

Using spreadsheets for resource planning costs a significant amount of added time and money.


How to track resources?

Efficient resource planning with Tempo Planner

Tempo Planner is an efficient resource planning and capacity reporting tool for Jira.

With it you not only get insight into your staff’s time and availability, you also get a critical view across your organization so you can make more effective decisions based on real-time data. You can use it to approve work and request time from other teams.

Tempo Planner Resource planning view
Tempo Planner - Resource planning view

With Tempo Planner, it’s easy for team leads to devise plans and report on capacity, even when an employee works in a different office or out of their own home. It allows planning for multiple resources on one issue in Jira. With Tempo Planner, you can account for vacations, holidays, varying workload schemes and geographically dispersed resources. Drag and drop issues or backlog items for easy resource planning. 

Resource planning meets time tracking

When Tempo Planner is used in conjunction with Tempo Timesheets, team leads can limit unknowns and construct future resource plans. They can report on plans and capacity with customizable reports, including “Planned vs Actual”. With this report users can determine how long projects actually take and learn to make better estimates, opening the door to greater profitability.

Tempo Planner Reports view

Tempo Planner - Planned vs. Actual report

Interested in knowing more about resource planning?

Resource Planning for a remote workforce webinar

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