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
  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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