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Project Intake Best Practices for Project Managers

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Project intake can have its challenges.

Project managers often receive project requests in various ways, like instant messages, email, phone, or even through conversation from the elevator to the office. It’s not uncommon that by the time a PM sits back at their desk to plan out the project, some details are either forgotten or information gets lost, which can negatively affect project outcomes. In fact, according to the PMI, 35% of projects fail due to inaccurate or lack of information.

To help project managers create a more organized process, this article provides 5 best practices for seamless project intake as well as an example of how a professional services organization became more productive by automating their project requests.

Project Request Management Best Practices

1. Automate Project Requests

Utilizing project management intake tools like project request forms can help iron out the details of requests and make sure all of the correct information is provided before being sent for approval. With this approach, all requests have an audit trail, are in the same unified format, and can be conveniently found in one central place. Request forms make it easy for decision-makers to manage and search for project requests.

Here’s an example of a project request form for an IT organization:

2. Create an Approval Process

According to a study by the PMI, 33% of projects fail due to a lack of involvement from senior management. Senior management often has a clear understanding of company objectives, which is why it’s important to incorporate them in the approval process of incoming projects. Involving the correct decision-maker can enhance the success rate of your project from the beginning.

3. Prioritize Incoming Requests

With the correct team member deciding the priority of the incoming project, a best practice is to measure the impact the project will have on your organization. Measuring the impact helps identify the value the project will have on profit margins, company growth, and more, as well as identify any negative impacts.

To help measure the impact of a project, ask yourself these 5 questions before approval.

4. Incorporate Resource Forecasting

Understanding the value of a project is the first step to approving it, the next is understanding if you have the appropriate resources available to work on it. Resource forecasting provides an accurate view of your resources’ schedules and whether they have the capacity to complete the incoming project effectively in the required timeframe. Confidently approve project requests knowing the right resources are available, deadlines are achievable, and that you can deliver on your promise to clients.

5. Mandate the Process

Adding a standardized process helps create consistency throughout the organization, leading to a more efficient team. Implement a rule that project request forms are the only process accepted and that any other methods will automatically be denied.

Request Automation Success Story

Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s an example of how one of our Professional Services clients implemented the above 5 best practices and their success.

The Challenge

Gallagher, the 3rd largest Insurance Brokerage in the United States, didn’t have a consolidated way to look at their pipeline of projects and received requests through verbal communication, instant messaging, emails, and phone calls, which made it difficult to prioritize projects and have all the necessary details for the request. Resources are Gallagher’s biggest expense so it was challenging to accurately forecast resources without the full scope of the project being requested.

The Solution

Utilize custom forms to automate project intake and accurately forecast resources. With the help of Birdview PSA, here is the workflow Gallagher created:

1. Ideation

A requester has an idea for a project.

2. Submit Request

Requester submits their project idea through a custom form that is specific to their department’s needs and ensures all necessary information is provided.

3. Evaluation / Conversion

The project request then gets submitted through email to the department leader to make a decision on moving forward with the project. The decision-maker will look at ROI, external consultations involved, and other elements of the project to help make a strategic decision.

4. Approve & Convert

Once approved, the customs form creates a new project automatically in Birdview with the required information in it for the Project Manager.

The Results

Gallagher uses Birdview as a decision support system to make sure their team is working on the right projects, with the right people, at the right time.

Project Managers can now view capacity The Customer Success team at Birdview created personalized Business Intelligence reports that show Gallagher’s Project Manager’s capacity vs demand. These resource forecasting reports help make educated decisions on how Project Managers should allocate their resources based on priority, current workload, and deadlines.

For a more in-depth look at how Kevin Devine, Senior Project Manager at Gallagher, leverages custom forms, watch his presentation on Project Request Automation and Resource Forecasting here.

For a more organized approach to project request management across your entire organization, try Birdview PSA.

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