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Project Portfolio Management icon

Optimize Project Intake, Approval, and Prioritization

Deliver more projects by giving 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
  • 6 anonymous company contributors

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

  • Approve only the right projects that you have capacity to deliver. Failure to align projects with strategic goals and resource capacity are the most common causes of portfolio waste across organizations.
  • 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

  • Establish an effective scorecard to create transparency into IT’s capacity and processes. This will help set realistic expectations for stakeholders, eliminate “squeaky wheel” prioritization, and give primacy to the highest value requests.
  • Build a centralized process that funnels requests into a single intake channel to eliminate confusion and doubt for stakeholders and staff while also reducing off-the-grid initiatives.
  • Clearly define a series of project approval steps, and communicate requirements for passing them.
  • Develop practices that incorporate the constraint of resource capacity to cap the amount of project approvals to that which is realistic to help improve the throughput of projects through the portfolio.

Research & Tools

Start here – read the Executive Brief

Read our concise Executive Brief to find out why you should optimize project intake, approval, and prioritization process, review Info-Tech’s methodology, and understand the four ways we can support you in completing this project.

1. Set realistic goals for optimizing project intake, approval, and prioritization process

Get value early by piloting a scorecard for objectively determining project value, and then examine your current state of project intake to set realistic goals for optimizing the process.

2. Build an optimized project intake, approval, and prioritization process

Take a deeper dive into each of the three processes – intake, approval, and prioritization – to ensure that the portfolio of projects is best aligned to stakeholder needs, strategic objectives, and resource capacity.

3. Integrate the new optimized processes into practice

Plan a course of action to pilot, refine, and communicate the new optimized process using Info-Tech’s expertise in organizational change management.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a nine call advisory process.

Guided Implementation #1 - Set realistic goals for optimizing project intake, approval, and prioritization process

Call #1 - Introduce Project Value Scorecard Development Tool and pilot Info-Tech’s example scorecard on your own backlog.
Call #2 - Map current project intake, approval, and prioritization process and key stakeholders.
Call #3 - Set realistic goals for process optimization.

Guided Implementation #2 - Build an optimized project intake, approval, and prioritization process

Call #1 - Improve the management of stakeholder expectations with an optimized intake process.
Call #2 - Improve the alignment of the project portfolio to strategic objectives with an optimized approval process.
Call #3 - Enable resource capacity-constrained greenlighting of projects with an optimized prioritization process.

Guided Implementation #3 - Integrate the new optimized processes into practice

Call #1 - Create a process pilot strategy with supportive stakeholders.
Call #2 - Conduct a change impact analysis for your PPM stakeholders to create an effective communication strategy.
Call #3 - Roll out the new process and measure success.

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: Refocus on Project Value to Set Realistic Goals

The Purpose

  • Set the course of action for optimizing project intake, approval, and prioritization by examining the current state of the process, the team, the stakeholders, and the organization as a whole.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • The overarching goal of optimizing project intake, approval, and prioritization process is to maximize the throughput of the best projects. To achieve this goal, one must have a clear way to determine what are “the best” projects.




Define the criteria with which to determine project value.

  • Draft project valuation criteria

Envision your target state for your optimized project intake, approval, and prioritization process.

  • Examination of current process, definition of process success criteria

Module 2: Examine, Optimize, and Document the New Process

The Purpose

  • Drill down into, and optimize, each of the project intake, approval, and prioritization process.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Info-Tech’s methodology systemically fits the project portfolio into its triple constraint of stakeholder needs, strategic objectives, and resource capacity, to effectively address the challenges of establishing organizational discipline for project intake.




Conduct retrospectives of each process against Info-Tech’s best practice methodology for project intake, approval, and prioritization process.

  • Documentation of new project intake, approval, and prioritization process

Pilot and customize a toolbox of deliverables that effectively captures the right amount of data developed for informing the appropriate decision makers for approval.

  • Tools and templates to aid the process

Module 3: Pilot, Plan, and Communicate the New Process

The Purpose

  • Reduce the risks of prematurely implementing an untested process.
  • Methodically manage the risks associated with organizational change and maximize the likelihood of adoption for the new process.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Engagement paves the way for smoother adoption. An “engagement” approach (rather than simply “communication”) turns stakeholders into advocates who can help boost your message, sustain the change, and realize benefits without constant intervention or process command-and-control.




Create a plan to pilot your intake, approval, and prioritization process to refine it before rollout.

  • Process pilot plan

Analyze the impact of organizational change through the eyes of PPM stakeholders to gain their buy-in.

  • Organizational change communication plan

Search Code: 77426
Published: May 1, 2015
Last Revised: January 18, 2018