The inundation of new tasks within projects can occur from multiple directions and can only be handled by specific available tools. If this is the case because outdated processes or tools are used then it would be very difficult to complete projects at the speed required by business.
This is a common occurrence in most organisations that need to invest in updating their project process intake tools. Managing incoming work requests aren’t always as simple as adding to a bulging project list. The following are some signs a project intake process is outdated and simple steps to build a well-defined automated project intake process.
Manual work request process
If work requests are still being received via Email, instant messages, and word of mouth, then there is an issue. When work requests are being delivered via multiple avenues then the possibility of items being missed is high. This affects overall work and a team can be burnt out very quickly.
Communicating via the methods mentioned here might work well for smaller teams and projects, but as business scales, a project intake request process that helps manage both current and incoming work properly is required. In order for project leaders, or the PMO to keep up with business demands and changing technology, manual requests must be avoided. There is a requirement to develop separate processes and work intake mechanisms, while still maintaining rigorous and governed processes for all things operational.
Management of both current workload and project requests, such as consolidation requests and assignment to the appropriate resources. The more requests received the more time-consuming and repetitive this process becomes.
While an investment in a collaborative work management tool should be considered, if it still enables manual source and input of the new project requests from multiple channels, then it is a waste of time and money as time will not be saved.
The single work intake request process
Removing work intake requests via IMs, emails, and chats and replacing with work management tool funnel should be seriously considered. Top-performing teams use request forms to consolidate incoming potential projects, directly funnelling them into the project request form. Request forms are a type of project intake questionnaire that requesters fill out in order to help a team get the project to the right place. This provides consistency to work intake, saving teams from tracking down critical details that delay project starts.
Ensuring any new requirements are submitted via one process or the request will not be added to their queue. Taking this type of approach which receive push back from teams, but education and outlining the benefits should see that requests are filtered through faster. With a clear process for managing work requests, internal collaboration improved drastically and other departments know requests will be handled in an organized and timely manner.
Process to turn requests into projects
Funnelling requests into one channel is only the first step; those requests will then need to become projects. If different teams are collaborating, determine which process will be followed and outline accountability and expectations. Even with requests in one place, teams can struggle to translate them into successful projects.
Turning all those requests and avoiding delays into successful projects can be challenging. In order for teams to take a request form and turn it into a project, requires the right information and an easy-to-follow kick-off process.

Automation of project intake process
Taking on extra projects can seem complex, as there is the current work load to consider, goals, and resources to balance. New requests also need to fit into an existing flow, below are some project intake process best practices.
• Use dynamic request forms in work management tool.

Dynamic request forms allow the capture of information in a variety of formats like short answers, paragraphs, checkboxes, dates, dropdowns, numeric, file attachments, and more. The forms automatically adjust to ask required information based on the information provided so the team doesn’t need to manually ask or input any data.

• Sets tools to automatically turn requests into projects using templates.

Set triggers that will automatically turn requests into tasks or projects and assign the right resources to them so nothing gets lost in translation. If the team has consistent project requests, the use of templates can drastically reduce the time it takes to create and manage repeatable tasks and projects.
• Appoint a request project leader or institute a request review rhythm.

Automation of a project template or assignees should have one person manage incoming requests. It should enable definition when requests will be reviewed. Requesters appreciate these set expectations and transparency.
By defining a process, using tools to help automate work, and collecting requirements up front, should avoid project delays and improve communication between teams.
Projects should be strategically mapped
The stream of inbound requests can feel overwhelming of requests coming in and being handled without any real strategy. There is no real understanding or appreciation how the extra work is likely to impact KPIs, which can lead to disconnect and discontent.
Overwhelmed with work, many teams review outstanding requests only after they’ve finished a task and are ready to tackle new projects. This linear approach means urgent requests that are a high priority for one team might be a low priority for another.
Division around work style and goals negatively impacts production and performance. So even the best intake process, means little if the team aren’t able to prioritize requests.
Map incoming projects to a team’s goals and prioritizing.
Companies with effective intake processes organize and tackle upcoming projects by priority. Once requests are located in one place it can be organized for kick-off. In order to do that, thinking outside of the team is required.
Align projects to those OKRs. Hold periodic meetings to review KPIs, plan upcoming work, and ensure the requests are prioritized actually further department and company goals.
Looking at goals in this way gives Project leaders the structure to stay aligned and prioritize projects. This ensures everyone is clear on how they add value to the organization, giving team members a sense of accomplishment.
Make part of the project intake process mapping requests to larger company goals. Ask questions like:
• What is the ultimate goal of this project?

• How will success be measured?

• Is this project in line with OKRs?
Asking questions like this will help prioritize incoming requests and make responses more strategic and less reactive.
The process of developing goals as a company also helps project leaders re-examine the marketplace and improve strategy.
Visualize and share current work load
Without visibility, it is difficult for project leaders to plan and accept incoming work. A snapshot of projects current standing is required as well as those projects on the horizon. Rather than focusing on a unified effort to achieve those company KPIs, they hold onto resources and become pigeon holed. This can cause project delays, duplicate work, confusing communication, and a stressful work environment.
A team calendar view of all current and upcoming due dates is required. Leveraging workflow statuses to keep stakeholders informed on the status of requested projects. With the right tools, a team can be empowered to see into the future.
Work management tool with multiple views work.
The main step to refining project scheduling techniques is to use with the right project management tools. Being able to visualize, manage, and measure resources helps with forecasting and strategically take on new requests without risking bottlenecks.
Consider a department with a lot of different projects going on at once. There is a request to write a customer case study. Determining the bandwidth of the team to take on a new project has to be considered. A shareable, layer able calendar view in the work management tool can help visualize where a project request can fit.
Providing visibility into what work is actually being accomplished fosters a sense of true collaboration. On a team level, seeing how each individual’s efforts contribute to the whole adds meaning and inspires all to work in unison to achieve common objectives. On an outside level, collaborating makes it easier with outside teams to show them where their project fits in.
Another way to accomplish this is by using customized workflow statuses. With a quick glance, requestors or project stakeholders can see where a project stands. No more needless status update meetings. When teams are able to hold one another accountable and communicate effectively, they can take on more work. Being able to see work enables the management of both current work and incoming work requests.
Preparation of project intake process
Considering these project intake process best practices can assist in keeping up with the project demands. It also provides transparency with the project team. A project management platform such as those found at Project Management Companion can help you get started. Try a free trial today.

Author's Bio: 

Project Management Companion are not a “Body Shop”, but work with our clients and their teams in a mentoring capacity to assist in every facet of project delivery so the Intellectual Property remains within the organisation. We help your team deliver projects successfully.