Project Management

Manage small projects with a more informal service request process

In smaller projects, a process needs to be established for gathering Service Requests and assigning them to team members based on client priorities. Here's a process that can be used for each request.

It stands to reason that smaller projects don't need the same level of project management discipline as larger projects. With a small project, it's easy to define the work, easy to manage the activities, and there usually isn't much work associated with managing risk, quality, communication, scope, etc.

In many organizations, a simple service request process is used to manage these small projects. This service request process starts off by defining the work to be done on a simple one- or two-page form -- aptly enough called a "Service Request" form.

The process for assigning the work is different as well. When the work definition for a larger project is completed, the project is usually ready to begin. However, for smaller efforts, there may be many more Service Requests than can actually be worked on at any given time. Therefore, a process needs to be established for gathering Service Requests and assigning them to team members based on client priorities. The following Service Request Process can be used for each request:

  1. Client submits the request. The client completes a simple Service Request form that documents the work requested. 
  2. Project manager review. The project manager reviews the Service Request to ensure that the work is understood. The project manager asks questions of the client if necessary, to clarify what is being requested.
  3. The effort, cost and duration are estimated. The project manager provides a high-level estimate of the effort hours, duration and cost, and adds this information on the Service Request. (If the project manager can't estimate the work, they assign to a team member to create the estimates.) When the work is actually assigned, a more detailed estimate can be prepared if necessary.
  4. The request is assigned or backlogged. The project manager and client evaluate the request against the other work that is assigned and on the backlog. They also review the available capacity and skills on the team to determine if the work can be started immediately. If the required resources are not available, or if the work is of lower priority than other Service Requests, the new request is placed on a backlog list. 
  5. Periodically review the backlogged work. The project manager and client review the backlog on a regular basis, probably weekly or bi-weekly. During this review, requests on the backlog should be reprioritized. When the priority of a Service Request is high enough and the right resources are available, the work can be assigned to begin.
  6. Revalidate the initial information. When the work is assigned to begin, the person(s) doing the work should validate that the information on the Service Request is correct and that the estimates are accurate. If they aren't, the new information should be documented and discussed immediately to see if it will have an impact on the priority.
  7. Execute the work. The actual execution of the work begins. This would follow a typical short lifecycle for a small project.
  8. Manage the work. Since the request is small, the project manager will manage the work as needed.
  9. Close the work. When the work is completed, the client should signify their approval. The Service Request should then be moved to a closed queue that tracks these requests for historical purposes.

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