Use a Simple Service Request Process for Small Projects

This post presents a process for managing small projects within an organization...and brings up issues about having a small project in a large organization, the resemblance of a service request and a change request, and the idea that a change request can be like a small project.

The proposed system formalizes the small project within the environment without overburdening it with the documentation required for a large project. However, one exact system, or process, does not necessarily serve all needs. There can be different favors of this type of system, depending on the organization. Just keep in mind the degree to which you need to do tracking of these types of small projects, and devise the appropriate level of detail and formality to support that.

The key, shown in several steps of the process, is to have some people in the process that will help move requests forward, so that the system and projects properly serve the needs of the organization.

Here is TenSteps' guest blog post on using a simple service request process for small projects.

In a small project, there is usually not a lot of effort associated with formally defining the work. However, some definition work still needs to be done. The result of this short definition is a one-to-two page document called a Service Request. The following Service Request process can be used. It is a combination of project management and portfolio management.

  • Submit the Service Request. The customer completes a simple Service Request form that documents the work requested. Even though the work may be small, the Service Request serves as the formal document describing the work to be done and contains the appropriate approvals.
  • Review and clarify. The resource manager reviews the Service Request to ensure that the work is understood. The resource manager asks questions to clarify what is being requested. The resource manager must also understand the criticality of the request and whether any prerequisite work needs to be completed first.
  • Prepare a high-level estimate of effort, cost and duration. The resource manager (or a team member) estimates the effort hours, cost and duration. This information is added to the Service Request. It is possible that once the customer sees the estimated effort, he may change his mind regarding the overall benefit and priority.
  • Assign the request or move it to a backlog. The resource manager and customer evaluate the request against the other work that is assigned. 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. (The backlog contains all work that has been requested, estimated and prioritized, but is not assigned to begin yet.)
  • Periodically review the backlogged work. The resource manager and customer review the backlog on a regular basis. During this review, requests on the backlog should be reprioritized, taking into account new Service Requests, completed Service Requests and the current realities. When the priority of a Service Request is high enough and the right resources are available, the work can be assigned to begin.
  • (When assigned) Validate the initial information on the Service Request. When the work is assigned to a team member, the person doing the work should validate that the information on the Service Request is correct and that the estimates are accurate. If they are not, the new information should be documented and discussed immediately to see if it will have an impact on the priority.
  • The small project is ready to begin executing.

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