Capacity In the context of Agile, capacity refers to the balance of team throughput to demand. Capacity of an agile team is the amount of work the team can complete per time period – such as per week, per month, etc. Although this is basically the same as throughput, it’s better to treat capacity and throughput as the same concept when dealing with knowledge work. Capacity should never be calculated on an individual role basis as the capacity can only be calculated at the team level. This is because work only becomes value once it’s passed through all the team capabilities. The actual capacity figure is calculated as the total number of work items the team can output per time period, divided by the number of people in the team. All knowledge workers can only sensibly work on one work item at a time. Context switching (aka task switching) is highly inefficient, lowers quality, and impacts on morale. To increase capacity and throughput with a fixed team size, you can look at waiting time experienced throughout the delivery lifecycle of the team. Waiting time may come in the form of blockers, impediments, or queuing time. All these concepts come from the Kanban method and are extremely profound in increasing team throughput. Understanding team capacity is a critical factor in planning both at the local team level, but more widely at the enterprise or portfolio level. Once you understand the teams capacity/throughput you can balance the demand against this from a planning perspective. If you’ve exhausted all avenues for increasing throughput then all you can do is prioritise accordingly. The Scrum Master, Project Manager, or Delivery Manager/Lean are responsible for collecting throughput data for the team and publishing it accordingly. Many teams also publish the data for the team to see and use what they find to explore ways to increase throughput and capacity. These concepts are covered in our one day Lean Agile Boot Camp workshop.

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