Does this sound familiar - you are walking into the elevator or standing in the company café and next thing you know - you have a new project! This is so common and what happens over time is that projects pop up in meetings, in emails, and even in IT Tickets, and the next thing we know, the IT team is overwhelmed and the Project Management Office can't keep up. This will continue until the organization adopts a formal project intake process with prioritization, review cycles, and project governance. A great example of this is what's been done at Chico State - where they have documented their entire project intake process.
What can be done to improve Project Intake?
TeamDynamix supports the project intake process via a project request that can easily be offered through the Client Portal or through web forms that may exist on other web pages. The level of detail you can capture at this initial phase is entirely configurable by you. Project requests can include benefit, effort, cost, and more such as risk and weighted scoring. Different workflows can be created and associated to project requests based on institution, business area and or functional area, and much more. Requestors can view the status of their project request as it moves through the project request process. The fact is that IT leaders cannot strategically drive their teams forward until they have their arms around project intake - the fact that any group could operate without a formal structure to incoming work is simply not plausible - compounding this is the fact that projects require resources across multiple areas. There are essentially three areas for focus:
When projects come in, they should be coming across in a formal proposal template, which would include scope, timeline, and desired outcomes. Key to this exercise is the development and articulation of business drivers behind the request, strategic or operational. This should include business impact, return on investment, goal alignment with strategic initiatives, financial impact, and timeline scope.
Review & reflection
Reviewing the proposal is the next step & this should include a well-formed team that can objectively consider the potential impact against all other priorities. The purpose is to ensure that the organization is focused on the right efforts and that resources are allocated appropriately.
To make this work, it is important to have a formal prioritization framework to prevent arbitrary evaluation. Looking at the project with the right lens; does it just keep the lights on? Is it strategic? Is it transformational? Or is it just “nice to have?” Governance can also be reviewed here - setting expectations for cadence, for project outcomes, and how to reserve resources and allocate appropriately. Here's where budgeting and timelines can be reviewed.
Taking a portfolio approach is also important to get a broader and more accurate view of resources, dependencies, and outcomes. This allows for more visibility when going through the review and prioritization process. Keep in mind, that organizations will do best with a more formal framework that can be socialized and used as a guidepost for true Project Management adoption. Once this is in place, the discipline can be spread across the organization more broadly.