Have you ever spent tons of a time on a request, only to realize you didn’t build the right thing? *raises hand*
It’s not a great feeling. But miscommunication can happen when you don’t have a way to organize staff requests early on.
It doesn’t matter if you write content, work with data, or submit grant applications. If you do anything highly specialized for your org….you can benefit from a solid request intake process.
How it normally goes…
When staff start to ask for things, it’s fine to keep things casual. Maybe someone sends you an email, or catches you on your way to the kitchen. This works…for a while.
But as your org grows, so do those asks. And pretty soon, that system you thought you had becomes this.
That’s why we’re putting a process in place. We’ve already considered the types of requests we get and the perspectives involved. We also built a framework that outlines what it takes to complete a request.
Now it’s time to jump to the start of a request – the moment we collect those requirements.
How to Build an Intake Process for Staff Requests
An intake process can streamline the way we work, save time, and minimize the likelihood of errors. It’s also a great way to build a paper trail for what you accomplish.
And it only really takes two steps.
1. Figure out what you need to work on a request
Requestors aren’t the only ones with requirements. As the person doing the work, you get to decide what you need from others, too.
Some details will depend on the ask. But at minimum, you’ll definitely need to know:
- when your colleague needs this ready
- how they plan to use it (for context)
- any wonky or super specific requests
Keep adding to this list. In the example from our last post, I created a framework for email list requests. In my case, I’d need the criteria for the recipients and any special exclusions.
2. Decide how staff should submit their requests
This will depend on a few factors: how complex this ‘thing’ is that you’re producing, how often you’re asked for it, the size of your staff, and your own preference.
Consider which of these 4 options is best for organizing & collecting those requirements from your staff.
1. Collect requirements verbally.
Yes, conversations & meetings don’t exactly scream ‘formal process’. But it’s one of the more common ways we get requests from our colleagues. So for that reason , it makes the list!
A verbal system can work, if that works for you. But still be sure to document it in some way – whether that’s sending a summary email or logging it in your task management system.
2. Collect requirements via email.
If written requests to your inbox work, so be it! This is a common, valid way of collecting staff requirements. No need to fix what isn’t broken.
But keep in mind this works best with smaller teams. If you’re getting 50 requests a week, or you need to delegate tasks across a big department, then a higher-tech option may be more sustainable.
p.s. You can use folders or labels (depending on your email platform) to organize requests and distinguish them from other emails.
3. Use a form (preferably online).
You may find yourself outgrowing the swing-by-my-desk-and-tell-me-what-you-need approach.
Direct your staff to submit a form instead. A form is a great way to guide staff in providing the info you need, since you can set the fields. It’s also a good way to start collecting those requests in one, central location.
4. Invest in a tool or ticketing system.
If your org’s needs are complex, then some new tech may be in the cards.
A ticketing system might be ideal if you’re a large organization supporting lots of staff. Just keep in mind that it’s a larger implementation that requires careful thought & planning.
But even if you’re a smaller org, project management tools like Trello or Asana can be powerful options.
Let’s wrap this up.
For the final part of this mini-series, let’s go over all the different tech options for actually managing our staff’s requests. You can check that out here.