An effective project intake process helps bring predictability to staff utilization and increases the likelihood of critical projects and operational activities being completed on time. However, nine pregnant women can’t have a baby in one month, and if your intake process is still in its infancy you should expect that there will be some challenges with getting key participants to follow it consistently.
What are some of the symptoms which might lead you to believe that your intake process is being a cranky toddler?
- Project requests are made to the governance committee without advance independent review or validation
- Staff are complaining that they are unable to locate specific projects within your time tracking system to track their time. After investigation, it turns out those projects were never reviewed or approved by your governance committee!
- Your governance committee never rejects any projects which have been brought to them for review
- Lobbying or even bullying by committee members during review meetings to get their “pet projects” approved
- Each project approved by the committee is deemed a high priority
- Insufficient stakeholder engagement in the development of project requests
So what can you do when you witness these “teething pains”?
One of the worst things you can do when faced with such evidence is to do nothing and hope compliance will emerge naturally – unfortunately, entropy usually increases. At the same time, overreacting will prove equally ineffective as it will likely lose you whatever goodwill you might have gained to date in working with the committee.
A better approach is to remind the governance committee of the business value gained by following the process – both to the organization as a whole and to the individual committee members. Remind the group as to why this change was necessary, and actively listen to their feedback to identify if there is any fine tuning which you can do to make the process less onerous.
Encourage members to hold each other accountable for compliance instead of your having to play “process cop” – after all, the best governance committees are self-managing.
Finally, remind the committee of any early wins that were achieved through the introduction of the process – these might include the termination of low value stealth projects or an increased cross-functional awareness of “what’s going on”.
The more you can reinforce the benefits of the process and make it easy for your key stakeholders and governance committee to comply, the faster your project intake process will grow up!