We’ve all been pinged last minute asking for the status of a document you’re supposed to review. You agreed to get it done by end of week, but something came up and threw off your entire schedule. Not to mention, said agreement was made in the break room making coffee—and promptly forgotten. Oops.
Processing, prioritizing, and tracking incoming work requests takes a lot of effort, especially when they're coming at you from so many channels: emails, meetings, instant messages, break rooms, and more. Demand management is time-consuming, unwieldy, and difficult to sustain as your company scales.
Follow these best practices to bring order to the chaos of incoming work requests so you can spend more time completing important projects and less time apologizing for dropping the ball.
Best Practices for Work Intake Processes
1. Require a formal submission for all requests.
It’s time to draw a clear line in the sand. Even if a new project is formally discussed in a meeting, informally mentioned in the hallway, or requested via email, nothing gets done unless it's submitted through Requests and is assigned a deadline.
When you insist on a clear work intake process, you'll have all the details you need upfront, which cuts down on rework and guesswork. Having a clear template to manage requests eliminates the need reinvent the wheel every time work is needed. Plus, you'll know exactly who to go to with any questions or clarifications.
Map out the types of requests your team receives and all the information needed to complete them. Then make sure everyone who works with your team understands the new process and knows exactly where to find the relevant request forms.
Pro Tip: Getting pushback on a formal request process? Ask the team to give it a chance, and then measure and compare the required back and forth and time to completion for requested tasks versus ad-hoc assignments. Everyone will clearly see the value of taking a few moments to fill out a request!
2. Keep all your incoming requests in a single place.
New requests should automatically be routed to one central location, like a project intake software, where they can be organized, prioritized, and tracked.
The Esurance marketing production team shaved over 400 emails from their inbox by taking requests out of email and adopting a single source of truth for all incoming projects. With a clear process for managing work requests, internal collaboration has improved drastically. Other departments are happy because they know their requests will be handled in an organized and timely manner.
When all your requests are coming from one place, instead of scattered through emails, sticky notes, verbal requests, or spreadsheets, nothing is lost or forgotten. You know who's responsible for each request and its status, and any duplicate requests can be easily identified and cleared from the queue.
3. Tackle project intake & prioritization upfront.
Some teams review outstanding requests only after they’ve finished a task and are ready to tackle a new project. This ultra linear approach causes urgent requests and fast-approaching deadlines to slip through the cracks. Companies with effective intake processes organize and tackle incoming projects by priority.
Wrike’s Dynamic Request Forms instantly turn requests into fully built tasks or projects from preset templates. This makes it easy for teams to prioritize work upfront and ensure they’re working on the right tasks at the right time.
It also keeps work flowing and enables your team to work faster. Workers can see see exactly what work they should focus on next instead of guessing—or twiddling their thumbs, waiting for decisions to be made and instructions to be given.
4. Appoint someone to oversee incoming work.
Whether it's a team lead, project manager, or department head, having one person manage the request flow and set priorities is essential. This individual should have a high-level view of all incoming work, as well as the authority to assign projects or shuffle deadlines as needed.
This strategy keeps your team aligned and focused on the most important work. It also enables them to dedicate themselves to the task at hand, rather than worrying about what’s coming up next or if they’re working on the right thing.
5. Map incoming requests to strategic goals.
It’s hard to execute on a project effectively without a clear understanding of why it’s being done and what the end result should accomplish. How do you know if the project was successful? How can you do better next time?
Hold periodic meetings (monthly or quarterly) to review your KPIs, plan upcoming work, and ensure the requests you’re prioritizing and spending resources on are actually furthering your most important department and company goals.
Include the following questions in your request forms:
- What is the ultimate goal of this project?
- How will success be measured?
Having answers to these questions not only empowers your team to look back and determine whether or not their work was on target, but also allows managers to more accurately measure and prove the impact of their teams’ work.
Manage Requests in Wrike
The beginning of a project sets the tone for the remainder of the work. A messy intake process starts your projects off on a sour note.
Follow these five tips to start transforming your incoming work requests:
1) Require a formal submission
2) Field all requests in one place
3) Prioritize projects during intake
4) Appoint someone to manage requests
5) Map requests to larger goals
If you don't have a system in place for managing work, try using Wrike Requests to keep all your incoming work requests organized and your team running smoothly.