Capacity Planning, time budgets - how best to set up work items

  • 22 March 2023
  • 13 replies

Userlevel 3

It drives me crazy that when a work item’s budget is assigned to only one team member at a time, even when two or more team members are working on the item.  It’s like karbon things the overall time budget on the work item is what’s key, where I would argue that the time budget for each team member is what’s key.

In order to get around this, I am considering breaking up our work items such that each item is only assigned to one person.  So our monthly close work item would be broken up into, say, three work items:  Reconciliations and anything else the bookkeeper does; adjustments and sales tax and anything else the account manager does; and review reports and hold advisory meeting and anything else the advisor does. 

It seems to me that this will lead to much more clarity around time budgets.  What am I missing?

I know one thing I am missing is that since work items can’t be dependent on each other that we will need to build in a step for the bookkeeper to kick of the next stage of the account manager and the account manager to kick off the final stage for the advisor.


13 replies

Userlevel 6
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@Rachel_Smith we tried this method on our accounting work and broke out the bookkeeping from the accounting and it was great at first, until we had so many work items that weren’t being kept up with properly and had so many past due work items it was more work to keep up with than the small budgeting benefit it gave us.  We’ve gone back to more involved work items and are just trying to better set budgets at the role levels.

It’s still a long work in progress.  

Userlevel 3

Thanks for the feedback.

Part of me just wants to keep a list in Excel of all our work items and the time budget per person.  I am trying to figure out the real need here.

We block our calendars with all repeating work items so that is maybe our best indication of open capacity.  Maybe we just keep getting better at that….and work toward making our workflow system simpler rather than more complicated.

Userlevel 6
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That’s what we are focusing on now - the calendar blocking - for me it’s very helpful because I am a visual person, and seeing all the blocks really does help with capacity planning and budgeting to some extent too.  

Userlevel 7
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Yes @Rachel_Smith we would like to get more granular with this as well.  We are focusing on time budgets by person/role and we do not use time tracking so the budget is always remaining - until the work order is completed.  We pull the information into a spreadsheet, not ideal.

@kylenecarse calendar blocking is so key for time management, I have never thought of the use case for capacity planning.  Nice.

Userlevel 3

Here we go, back to excel and google calendar! 

It’s so hard when you have a complicated tool like Karbon and you think it can do everything for you and it just can’t.

Karbon’s biggest selling point for me right now is the team collaboration features - commenting on emails and work items, client timelines.  If I could get that in another software program for less than $75/seat I would move in a heartbeat.  Because you can make a process checklist and put client notes anywhere.  

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

@Rachel_Smith I’m not sure if I misunderstanding your comment about a work item only having a budget assigned to one person, but here’s what we do.

We break all our budgets out by Role in the template, and when the work item is created, we assign a person to each role which adds each individual’s budget. If you use Work Views and have a Kanban grouped by colleague, it will show the total budget for each person in the column header. A person’s budget for a work item will also show in the work card in My Week.

Budget set up on work item, per person/role/task
Work View column total for employee showing budget for all work items in the filter (3 work items)
My Week card with individual person’s budget - you can see this is the same amount as in the work item budget


Again, if I’ve misunderstood what you’re after, please let me know and provide some clarifying details!

Userlevel 6
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@Rebecca Williams this is a great visual, and what we are working towards as well, albeit very slowly as we rebuild work items to include budgeted amounts by the role, then modifications if needed for the specific client as well.  

Userlevel 3

I have a similar view saved in my work kanbans.  The budget vs the allocated budget just drives me crazy.

For instance, a month end work item I just looked at has 6 hours budgeted for the client lead and 2 for the bookkeeper.  The bookkeeper is the current assignee of the work item so it has 8 hours under her name as “budget”.  Under “allocated” I understand that 2 hours are included there. 

But when I look at the work card in the column all you can see is “8 hours”.  It doesn’t show that the bookkeeper is only assigned 2 of those.  

And then in the client lead’s column, it shows she is “also working on” that month end item, but does not show that she has 6 hours assigned to that item. 

When looking at capacity planning for team, I should easily be able to see that the bookkeeper is budgeted for 2 hours on this job and the client lead is budgeted for 6.

It’s just so not intuitive.

Agree with @Rachel_Smith , this leads to much confusion for my team too.


Time allocation reports under the Work Module, must break down to assignee level (based on the work item’s budgeted time) , and not only show the time for the entire work items that a work assignee is associated with.


@Rebecca Williams to clarify the issue: 
A work item for a 1hr long weekly meeting, has 3 hours assigned to it in total in the work item budget.

1 hr for the Client Owner

1 hr for the Account Manager

1 hr for the final team member X who is the assignee of the entire workflow


Expected Result

In the Work Reporting Module: 

If filtered to show only the Client Owner and Account Manager each should have 1 hr budget for, show separately, as they will both be attending the meeting.
If filtered by the work assignee 1 hrs should be allocated to the team member X


Actual Result:

Expected Result

In the Work Reporting Module: 

If filtered to show only the Client Owner and Account Manager each show no time budget for the meeting.
If filtered by the work assignee 3 hrs is allocated to the team member X

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

@Paul Richardson that helped and led to me digging in further in our reports and I agree this is illogical! Here’s what I see the issue is (recapping what you and others have noted!):

  • The work assignee is assumed to be the overall “owner” of everything in the work item and “owns” the total budget
    • In this case the left person shows as having the full budget of 10h 36m, but actually they only get 8h 36m of this total time
    • The person on the right isn’t assigned any work in this view, but they are involved in work with an allocated budget of 5h 50m 
    • This is especially illogical if the work assignee changes throughout the work process, as per Karbon’s suggested best practice!
  • The “full” work cards that show in an Assignee column shows the total budget, but logically we’d expect this to show the allocated budget
  • The “simple” work cards that show for everyone else involved in a piece of work, give no indication as to whether they have time budgeted
    • In this case, the person on the right has 1h 54m budgeted for them (I had to drill into the work item to find that - that’s the issue!)  
    • The “simple” cards should also show allocated time (like where i have a big red box and blank space!)
    • Currently, we can’t see easily from this view if someone is “involved” in work, even if they have no budget allocated (concerning!)



  • Main work cards for Assignee should only show allocated budget not full budget
  • Simple work cards for others involved should also show their allocated budget for that piece of work
Userlevel 4
Badge +5

@Rachel_Smith This is where KPI comes into play - you can see budgets by team member instead of budgets by work item. You would need to follow @Rebecca Williams’s advice about breaking down the budget within the work item to be able to see this in KPI. 

We use the resource planning workbook to calculate utilization for our team. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

@Ashley Rhoden KPI should be for additional information that isn’t available natively in Karbon, and drilling further into that detail. The issue here is more that the detail Karbon is already displaying is illogical and doesn’t show what someone would reasonably expect it to. i.e. the work card shows the entire budget allocated to the team instead of the budget allocated to that person. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

@Rachel_Smith  @Paul Richardson didn’t realize this was a question thread instead of a feature request so I’ve created a request here!