There was a time when I worked without a project management system. Work intake was scattered and deliverables were all over the place. In my previous role, I realized very quickly that I needed, at the very least, an intake form.
Why is work intake important for designers?
Depending on your work situation, you may or may not receive a creative brief. So many assignments are given via emails, Slack messages, or a quick phone call. If you don’t have or get a creative brief, you’re not getting all the information you need to produce an effective solution. An intake or request form is basically a fill-in-the-blanks creative brief; you just have to ask the right questions.
Here are my non-negotiables for information:
- Task name, requester name, and department
- Desired due date — important note: to help avoid the answer of ‘yesterday,’ I always put estimated turnaround times for different types of deliverables at the top of the form, along with a caveat that all requests require a minimum 48 hour turnaround time.
- Target audience
- How the asset will be used — sometimes people don’t know what they need, but they have an use case that will help you determine the appropriate deliverable.
- Goals of the project — this will make sure you’re delivering a solution that aligns with and assists the goals of the project.
- Assets that need to be included in the deliverable — partner logos, images, etc. It’s best to get these up front so you don’t have to go searching for them later, or not know they were needed.
One important thing that intake forms do is cut down on unnecessary communication—but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to communicate! Let the requester know that you received their request, and give them an ETA of the deliverable. This is also a good opportunity to ask for any information they didn’t include, or to expand on certain points.
By having a request form, you have one centralized point of entry for assignments, and depending on the system you use, you can pull important metrics to share with your manager and/or leadership: number of requests, types of assets most requested, and turnaround time, among others. This will help you correlate your creative output with business needs. (More on this to come!)
You also don’t have to spend as much time following up with random requests that are scattered all over the place with different POCs. Have everything in one place will save a ton of time that you can put back into designing.
A few important points about rolling out a work intake form:
- Get feedback from your users. This is obvious if you’re a UX/UI designer, but if you want to make sure people can easily use this form. You don’t want it to be a chore for them, because then they won’t do it.
- Train your users and stakeholders. When you roll this out, schedule a quick training with the people who will be using this form most, and explain how this makes their lives easier as well (one centralized place for info, less time spent answering your sporadic questions about a project).
- Make this the only way a request is considered. A form is no good if people don’t use it or don’t use it consistently. If someone tries to submit a work request to you any other way, point them towards the form. If it’s not officially sent in, it doesn’t get on your to do list.
Next up: how to manage these requests through the whole project lifecycle.