Automating Incoming Requests: Best Practices
“This is driving me nuts! I mean, every day I would get about a dozen new requests by email. Plain or as Word attachments. Sometimes PDF or even PowerPoint. Then there are phone calls. Add another five or eight request. On top of that – people are dropping by my office. “Can I ask you a favor”, they start… and I’m supposed to keep track of all these requests, prioritize the, assign them, track them and report on them.” – Linda (not her actual name) sounded really stressed and frustrated.
Linda was a Traffic Manager of a marketing department within a large retail chain. Among many other things she was responsible for accepting and processing incoming work requests from all departments within her company. That particular part of her job took disproportionate amount of her time: 3-4 hours every day. She had to document all requests into an Excel spreadsheet she was supporting and send an email with a summary confirming work details to the requestor.
As her organization grew bigger, she knew this approach wouldn’t scale. Since there was no budget in her department to hire help, she would either have to work more overtime than she already did or quit. Linda was searching for another alternative when she found Easy Projects.
Fast-forward to about six months from that conversation. Patrick (his actual name) – Easy Projects’ Client Success Manager – was having the mandatory check-up call with Linda as a part of our “Path to Success” implementation program.
She sounded happy and relaxed. Actually she was excited: there was an internal efficiency audit of all departments conducted by a 3rd party consulting group, and her team has passed it with flying colors.
Three months after she has been promoted to the Director of Marketing position. We couldn’t be happier.
So what happened within those first 6 months of Easy Projects implementation?
The first thing we’ve done after the initial configuration was the setup of a Custom Form for accepting all new work requests.
The rule was made: No job request gets accepted unless it is submitted via this Custom Form. The form was embedded into company’s intranet, so every employee has access to it.
Of course, there was an adjustment period… There was some yelling and complaining, however Linda has secured support of her management team.
This small change made a huge difference:
- Every work request is now placed into Easy Projects database and can be easily found;
- All request details are now in the same format and thanks to the mandatory fields, virtually no time is wasted on the missing info;
- The manual data-entry aspect has been totally eliminated, including errors and omissions;
- Nothing slips through the cracks since there is an audit trail for everything;
- There are big time savings on the project planning and tracking side. With a single click each new request is easily converted into a new project or task;
- All requestors are given online access to the Guest Portal to track the status of their jobs, so there is no need for manual status update emails or phone calls;
- The department’s turn-around time has improved by over 20% since Linda and her team can focus on their actual jobs instead of wasting time on tedious micromanagement.
Custom Forms are just one way to automate your intake process with Easy Projects. Some other options are:
- Guest Portal
Gives free access to internal or external customers, so they can submit new requests or issues.
- MS Outlook Add-in
Great way to quickly convert incoming emails into new projects or tasks.
An incredibly flexible service that integrates Easy Projects with over 300 applications including SalesForce, Gmail, HipChat, etc.
- Easy Projects API
Allows to setup custom workflows to bring in data from the existing internal tools (Projects, Tasks, Timelogs, etc).
If you’d like to know more about any of these tools – please let us know!