An often-overlooked aspect of project onboarding is the intake process. A lot of organizations strike a project and then immediately go to work on the planning and execution, which at times isn’t a bad approach. But for organizations that thrive on having many projects (such as a consulting company), having a project intake process where the proper checks are being done is vitally important to the successful launch of a project. This post will go through some key points of doing a great project intake.
Ask the Right Questions
Without asking the right questions, your entire project intake becomes devalued. Knowing the pertinent details of an incoming project is crucial to understanding how best to take on the project. Key questions to ask as part of your project intake will vary but here are some commonly important ones:
Who is your customer?
When does the project need to start?
When does the project need to finish?
What is the scope of the project?
What skillset are needed to deliver the project?
Ensure Appropriate Staffing Levels
After asking all the right questions, you will be able to start the second half of the intake process which is evaluating what needs the project has in order to be successful. One of (if not the) first items that needs to be addressed is what level of staffing commitment is needed by the project. Examining both the scope and the timeline expectations of the project as well as the necessary skillsets will give you a good sense of what staffing commitments are needed by the project. Combine this with your resource allocation tool to get a sense of where the project can fit on the roadmap without overburdening your team, or alternatively knowing who and when to hire for the project.
Validate Scope & Expectations
An important aspect of the project intake process is the validation of scope and expectations. Because what is always ‘sold’ isn’t always in the contract it’s good to assess what has been promised or inferred and what the customer’s expectations are. Are they expecting on-site resources? Do they need go-live to happen over Christmas break? Has the scope statement been written tightly enough that it won’t cause ambiguity? Will the customer perceive they are getting more than what has been written? The validation exercise of the project intake can be incredibly valuable and save your project team from fighting a lot of unnecessary issues.
Project intakes are not new, however are not often rigorous or disciplined. Building a project intake that examines all these different areas will allow you to not only staff and plan your project properly but also ensure that your project will be set up for success.