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Optimize Project Intake, Approval, and Prioritization

Give yourself the voice to say “no” (or “not yet”) to new projects.


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  • Kiron Bondale, PMP, PMI - RMP, Senior Project Portfolio & Change Management Professional
  • Scot Ganshert, Portfolio Group Manager, Larimer County, CO
  • Joanne Pandya, IT Project Manager, NYPIUA
  • Jim Tom, CIO, Public Health Ontario
  • Garrett McDaniel, Business Analyst II – Information Technology, City of Boulder, CO

Your Challenge

  • Companies are approving more projects than they can deliver. Most organizations say they have too many projects on the go and an unmanageable and ever-growing backlog of things to get to.
  • While organizations want to achieve a high throughput of approved projects, many are unable or unwilling to allocate an appropriate level of IT resourcing to adequately match the number of approved initiatives.
  • Portfolio management practices must find a way to accommodate stakeholder needs without sacrificing the portfolio to low-value initiatives that do not align with business goals.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Failure to align projects with strategic goals and resource capacity are the most common causes of portfolio waste across organizations. Intake, approval, and prioritization represent the best opportunities to ensure this alignment.
  • More time spent with stakeholders during the ideation phase to help set realistic expectations for stakeholders and enhance visibility into IT’s capacity and processes is key to both project and organizational success.
  • Too much intake red tape will lead to an underground economy of projects that escape portfolio oversight, while too little intake formality will lead to a wild west of approvals that could overwhelm the PMO. Finding the right balance of intake formality for your organization is the key to establishing a PMO that has the ability to focus on the right things. 

Impact and Result

  • Eliminate off-the-grid initiatives by establishing a centralized intake process that funnels requests into a single channel.
  • Improve the throughput of projects through the portfolio by incorporating the constraint of resource capacity to cap the amount of project approvals to that which is realistic.
  • Silence squeaky wheels and overbearing stakeholders by establishing a progressive approval and prioritization process that gives primacy to the highest value requests.

Research & Tools

1. Assess current state

Determine current capability levels for approval, intake, and prioritization and set an achievable target state of optimization for intake success.

2. Optimize processes

Develop optimized processes that align intake, approval, and prioritization with resource capacity, strategic goals, and stakeholder needs.

3. Communicate processes

Institute process change throughout the organization by effectively communicating the benefits of optimized intake.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a seven call advisory process.

Guided Implementation #1 - Assess current state

Call #1 - Scoping call.
Call #2 - Discuss the results of the current state assessment and/or PPM assessment.

Guided Implementation #2 - Optimize processes

Call #1 - Establish an intake workflow and configure project requests for your organization.
Call #2 - Determine approval scorecard and define stage gates for approvals process.
Call #3 - Define a progressive prioritization framework.

Guided Implementation #3 - Communicate processes

Call #1 - Develop a stakeholder management plan for the implementation of your optimized processes.
Call #2 - Prepare a communications document to help sell the benefits to the organization and enforce discipline on stakeholders and staff.

Onsite Workshop

Discuss This Workshop

Book Your Workshop

Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Make the Case for Optimizing Intake, Approval, and Prioritization

The Purpose

  • Build the case for optimizing intake, approval, and prioritization.
  • Establish a preliminary roadmap for aligning your portfolio with high-value projects that you can deliver.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Communicate the costs and benefits of renovating your current processes.
  • An understanding of Info-Tech’s framework for intake success.




Review intake and prioritization artifacts, project and resource lists, and a list of items currently in the backlog.

  • An overview of current pain points and a high-level understanding of what needs to be retained, optimized, or abandoned from current processes and artifacts.

Map existing processes to Info-Tech’s framework.

  • A strategy for meeting success criteria.

Complete a business case to present to your stakeholders.

  • A completed measured value assessment.

Module 2: Assess Needs

The Purpose

  • Analyze current state to identify core pain points and opportunities.
  • Identify key stakeholders in current processes and define their roles and responsibilities.
  • Define target state within Info-Tech’s intake capability framework.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Obtain perspective on areas of waste and areas in need of greatest improvement.
  • Involve the right stakeholders, at the right time, in the optimization process.
  • Establish intake discipline and best practices that are grounded in actual project capacity.




Perform and/or analyze Project Intake Needs Assessment.

  • Current state analysis based on Project Intake Needs Assessment.

Do a SWOT analysis.

  • An overview of current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Map current intake workflow.

  • An analysis of inefficiencies and deficiencies in current intake workflow.

Determine goals and success criteria.

  • A roadmap for successful optimization, including objectives and timelines.

Module 3: Streamline Intake to Control Stakeholder Expectations

The Purpose

  • Identify and map project sources.
  • Establish an effective triage process for project requests.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • A centralized intake workflow that fosters collaboration between sponsors and the PMO.
  • An appropriate request follow-up process that sets realistic expectations for stakeholders. 




Perform a start-stop-continue exercise with the team.

  • A clearly defined scope for intake renovation.

Review and configure request form.

  • A customized request form with the right amount of friction for your organization.

Establish an optimized intake workflow.

  • A PPM triage process that effectively informs requests forward.

Pilot workflow to confirm viability.

Module 4: Align Approval and Prioritization with Strategic Objectives and Available Resource Capacity

The Purpose

  • Establish suitable stage gates for the approval process.
  • Create a protocol that ensures a high ROI relative to the time and effort spent developing and assessing business cases.
  • Determine the appropriate steps in a progressive prioritization process for your organization. 

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Clearly defined expectations for what “approval” means at each gate and what is required of sponsors.
  • The assurance that the time spent developing business cases translates into project success.
  • An effective cadence for prioritization to help ensure your efforts are always aligned with the highest value priorities.  




Establish an approval and prioritization scorecard.

  • Approval and prioritization scorecard.

Review and configure business case template.

  • A customized business case template with the right amount of friction for your organization.

Define approval stage gates and authority rights.

  • An approval flow with specific outcomes defined at each gate.

Determine prioritization cadence.

  • Detailed steps for who is responsible for what, and when they’re responsible for it, in the prioritization process.4. Detailed steps for who is responsible for what, and when they’re responsible for it, in the prioritization process.

Pilot the workflow using Info-Tech’s tools and templates.

Module 5: Communicate Optimized Processes

The Purpose

  • Define roles and responsibilities for implementation.
  • Identify potential types and sources of skepticism, sabotage, and enthusiasm.
  • Develop a communications document to help communicate new processes to stakeholders. 

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Clearly established team roles for rolling out new processes as well as for the ongoing triage of new requests.
  • Target specific stakeholders and user groups with unique messages to help ensure adoption.
  • Begin developing a communications strategy that appeals to and accommodates various points of view.  




Solidify the request team.

  • Defined roles and responsibilities.

Proactively identify potential skeptics in order to effectively engage them early and address their concerns.

  • Objections-Handling Template to document potential resistance to the new processes and the PMO’s response.

Document standard operating procedures for intake, approval, and prioritization in Info-Tech’s Project Intake, Approval, and Prioritization Communications Template.

  • Communications template that will help enforce discipline on sponsors and other project sources.