It happens all too often. You’re in the zone, zipping through the work piled on your desk when the call comes. Someone in the next department needs a document right away.
Instead of going through the formal—but seldom followed— procedure for requesting work from your department, your coworker reached out to you directly. She knew it was the surest way the work would get done. But this emergency assignment will likely throw off your workflow for the rest of the day.
It’s the same way all over the company, it seems. Each department has a different set of procedures for managing work requests, making it difficult to ever really get a handle on what’s going on. When a client or coworker calls to check on something, it becomes a department-wide hunt for a document that may be in a pile on just about anyone’s desk.
Work is getting done, but the lack of a formal incoming work request process is clearly impacting efficiency, adding employee stress and holding the company back from reaching its productivity goals.
As a manager, you know you need to do something about managing work requests. But you’re not sure where to even begin.
The good news is that creating a better incoming work request process is straightforward. It can empower your team to transform the way your organization functions.
Best Practices for Incoming Work Requests
1. Establish a Formal Request Process
Maybe you have a request process set up, but it’s so ineffective that coworkers from other departments don’t even know it exists. Some people could be following your preferred procedure while others aren’t. Work requests may appear inconsistent and incomplete.
If this sounds like your department, it’s time to establish a new, consistent process and communicate it to everyone who’ll use it. In the end, you should have a formal request procedure.
Your new process could require requesters to fill out an online form listing all the information you’ll need to complete the task. Capturing details like deadlines, contact information and special instructions from the start means you won’t need to track anything down later.
Using a work request template may help you organize the details you need. You can determine what to include on your request template by taking a look at past requests.
Once you have a new process in place, shout it from the rooftops! Email every department head, post a note in the breakroom, hire a skywriter—do whatever you have to do to get the message out.
When you feel confident your organization is aware of the new process, your job will be to apply the policy consistently. Don’t take any more work requests in other ways. Offer to help people through the process if necessary.
2. Centralize All Incoming Requests
Say goodbye to the chaos. When you keep all incoming requests in the same place, you’ll know where to find them.
Ideally, your requests should have a home on your network in a location that is accessible by your entire team. When everyone knows where to look, you’ll all be able to tell at a glance what your workload will look like in the coming days.
Later, you can use the work request data you’ve collected to find trends and patterns. This can help you identify pain points in your processes, track workflow better and stay more organized all around.
Tools like Pipefy make it easy to centralize work requests as they come in.
3. Prioritize and Assign Tasks Right Away
Chances are, it’s not practical to tackle your work requests in sequential order. Some requests are simply a higher priority than others.
Pipefy’s workflow management abilities can help you prioritize tasks and assign work automatically based on rules that you previously specified. These and other optimizations will buy you more time to focus on what really matters.
Automating work assignments can significantly improve work distribution across team members. It also means your employees won’t need to wonder what they should be working on at any given time.
4. Appoint a Gatekeeper
Appointing a gatekeeper who singularly manages your request flow is an essential element for improving your incoming work request process. The point person could be a team leader, project manager, department head, assistant, or another team member who fits the bill.
Whoever you select, give them the authority to assign (or reassign) projectsand change deadlines. Since this person will have a high-level view of the process, be sure to consult with them from time to time to see how things are going. Continuous improvement in all your processes should be a priority.
Your gatekeeper should communicate with team members every now and then to discuss how things are going. They may be able to address common concerns since they work with the requests regularly.
5. Structure Your Request Template to Reflect Strategic Goals
When you include questions on your request form that align with strategic goals, you can ensure that your team will have a clear understanding of the work at hand. Having this information on hand will lead to better process management strategies down the road, too.
Consider including questions on your form like:
- What are your goals for this project?
- Is this project a priority for you?
- How will you measure whether the work product is adequate?
Requests that include this kind of information allow you to look at them from a different perspective. The information also helps inform your team’s understanding of their role in helping your organization meet expectations.
Improve Your Incoming Work Request Process with Pipefy
The Pipefy platform adds centralization, automation and standardization to your processes, so managing incoming work requests takes up less of your team’s time. You’ll be amazed by how much impact it can have on your entire organization, and you can get started for free.