Capacity planning in Information and Communication Technology is the process of calculating IT infrastructure, software and communication systems production, which is needed to meet, keeping together multiple factors to get the work completed efficiently without any hiccups.
Effective handling of Capacity Planning helps achieve the Stability and Successful Service delivery of their IT, Software or Contact Center Infrastructure.
Every now and then Capacity calculations are required periodically to keep up to date System performance in check. But there are number of flaws seen in it from time to time which causes poor performance of systems and poor customer experience.
1) Platform Understanding
Before calculating Capacity for any Software or system you must know the resources in use by it such as Inputs, incoming, outgoing, type of transactions, calculations and what the output of the platform is. Once who, what and how gets answered, then first step gets completed.
The other factor to consider is your service level factor. Service levels are calculated based on the service you’re providing in an agreeable time period or limits.
It has been observed many times that software or systems are deployed without calculating its load and impact, which causes poor performances for end-users and customers, which is perfect recipe of poor customer experience.
In a contact center environment, if you have to calculate the load on ACD system then you take in account the Calls or contacts it gets on day to day basis, with duration in multiple interval base as a base report. On top of it you forecast for next three to six months, how much Call load and Seats are expected.
Similarly on Software level, you analyze how much requests it gets from end-users including clients on Application layer, engine layer and database layer (if any) in order to know what’s needed to be achieved. After initial understanding, you forecast the number of requests and expected output for forecast time period.
2) Accurate forecast
Accurately forecasting on platform is another factor which are often missed. Forecasting is done based on current utilization of Software, Application or Platform at multiple levels. It can be carried out on new trend in market being created by Marketing and Sales team, or through new launch or product or new upgrade on the platform too. The other key factor to consider is the peak volume.
Forecasts can be generated through automated platforms and these reports must be regularly reviewed to ensure that Capacity is up to the mark.
There are often change requests on the systems, and teams planning on them, sometimes do not consider sizing effort from resource on System and workforce point of view.
Adding new calculation within the system or adding new promotion may or may not impact the Service delivery or service levels, which should be intelligently calculated.
3) Monitoring Platform
One of many mistakes, organizations make is not having an effective monitoring system, which should be in place to calculate load and peak values with some analysis. That insight provides IT to proactively prepare systems or software accordingly.
In some cases, they have monitoring system but it isn’t calculating everything from cradle to grave. One should make sure that monitoring system should be able to calculate and take into consideration all values. Having very basic monitoring solution cannot provide enough insight timely to support or save time for customers in the outage hours.
Better monitoring systems can provide Proactive handling of problems and can generate support tickets automatically through proactive APIs which can be configured within your ticketing/support system.
Without having a monitoring system, you’re basically driving a car without knowing how much fuel or what speed you have.
4) Timely Reviews on Capacity
The last major factor is that once capacity is calculated and system is running fine, but you have to keep in mind that you should be able to review the trends from past months or year and consider forecasts in that Capacity Review. It could be monthly or quarterly but has to happen to ensure that systems are upto date and able to sustain for any new stuff.
One of the examples is the virus you get to know, and for that you have to apply patches in timely manner to ensure lesser damage.
The same way you have to make sure your system is running up to the mark and is ready for production for next three to six months.
If it’s a web application, you should be able to review:
+ How much load it had in last six months?
+ What was the response times on those?
+ How much downtime was on them?
+ Whether was it within service level or not?
+ Adding new physical site in next three months will add more human-resource, and will it impact?
5) Communication between stakeholders
As I mentioned earlier, the communication within the organization related to promotions and increase in the end-users should be well communicated with IT or Production system owners.
That way they can forecast the capacity needed, licenses needed or more specifications needed to cover the support and growth.
As IT is the driving factor in growth, they are second important team to know about the promotions to ensure that they are ready to support.
Many in sales, customer service teams do not consider seeking input from IT or engineering teams, rather they speak to them after they have made the plan and in some cases, after launch which really is a worst way to start promotion or expect a better Service level.
All of the above five major steps if done right, can no longer cause outages or problems to your clients due to Capacity. Capacity planning help improve your customer experience, growth and employee experience.