What is Intake and Process Intake? Is there a Difference?
In the business lingo, intake is the name given to the activity of accepting and monitoring customers’ requests and demands. Be it a shop with a front and a back door or an organization with software or a vendor to take development orders, they both welcome work from all doors.
The intake process defines how these businesses choose to receive the work demands and process them to ensure that every request is fulfilled and completed on time.
The intake process lays the groundwork for the company’s and customer’s ongoing relationship. It is the crucial step in the project lifecycle where customer and project information are gathered.
This is the first thing companies and businesses set up when they open up shop. Work intake is the procedure for developing project proposals and deciding whether to continue with the work or not. This technique is frequently used in conjunction with an ideation process and a comprehensive portfolio decision framework. However, it can also be used on its own.
Besides the initial request, you must set up a process that also asks for the relevant documentation related to the project request. Work intake is an important part of defining the project portfolio. Hence it falls under the “Define the Portfolio” stage of the project life cycle. Furthermore, the client and request intake process are depicted in the diagram below in the context of the portfolio lifecycle.
What is Client Intake?
In a service-based organization like law firms, software development, architecture, client intake refers to the process of onboarding new clients and gathering the necessary information to understand the scope of the work and begin.
This process is harder to implement and execute for smaller organizations, but it’s relatively easy for larger organizations. This is because bigger firms have a higher bandwidth to set up the required infrastructure to streamline the client intake procedure. It can be a time-consuming process for smaller organizations, and larger companies can easily implement a solution for the project and client intake, provided they know how to do that.
More importantly, a systematic client intake is critical for creating a strong first impression on clients. Plus, it helps keep your office running efficiently, whether you’re just starting or have an established business.
Hence, intake, process intake, client intake, etc., have the same connotation. It’s just that with the type of organization, the name of the service changes.
What is the Ideal Client Intake Process?
Onboarding a new client isn’t only about getting their email address or their project request on your email. It also includes the client’s first interaction with your organization and the journey ahead until the moment they sign a contract or reach an agreement, which leads to work. It’s an entire process of attracting and hiring new clients. Client intake, in certain ways, also includes onboarding new clients after they’ve signed on with your firm.
Here are the steps you must consider in client intake.
- Attracting New Clients: There are many ways to attract new clients. It can be via your network, word of mouth, website, social media, google search, and so on. Once the customer or client is convinced that you can solve their problem, they will be interested in talking to you.
- Getting the Contact Information: There are many ways to attract new clients. It can be via your network, word of mouth, website, social media, google search, and so on. Once the customer or client is convinced that you can solve their problem, they will be interested in talking to you.
- Pre-Screening Process: Pre-screening is essential to ensure that you can provide or deliver what the client is asking for. So, in this stage, reflect on the information provided by the client and verify whether you can deliver the same or not. Check for the resources, materials, expertise, people, and the time you need to deliver the intake request.
- Initial Consultation: This is your first formal meeting with the client to establish a better understanding of the project and the requirements. Some companies directly switch to the consultation stage without going through the steps above, only to find that they cannot deliver the project for any reason. Hence, it is essential to build an effective intake process that you follow every step in the exercise. For the consultation part, you can either schedule a face-to-face meeting or go with the trend today and set up an e-meet.
- Understand the Requirements: With the meeting done, you will have substantial information about the project. So, now you must feed the information to the people who will be working with you on the project. Further, divide the work into chunks and deliverables to complete it efficiently and on time.
- Agreement and Onboarding: With the project completely understood and divided, you can share the same with the client and move ahead with signing the agreement.
The steps above highlight an ideal intake process. It may seem like a simple process, but in truth, the intake is like a big machine where every cog needs to do its part. By focusing on every part individually and holistically, you can build a streamlined intake process and pay close attention to the deliverables.
This will undoubtedly lead to a better user experience and lighten the workload on a single individual or a department. Suppose you’re currently using paper intake forms. In that case, you need to switch to a solution that provides dedicated client onboarding and workflow management process.
One project intake goes through several hands. A workflow set up for the same can help ensure that every participant understands their role and when to execute their function in the hierarchy.
Types of Intake Process
Your organization’s client or project intake process depends on the industry and the type of customers you deal with. Besides this, the kind of organization, its strength, and the company procedures can also change the intake process.
Here are a few types of intakes, and majorly, these three types sum up the majority of the systems we see today.
1. IT Client Intake Process:
An IT organization has multiple systems and departments in place, which must work together to provide the service. Plus, there are different kinds of requests they intake, including service tickets, routine management requests, concept proposals, and other sorts of work that are common for IT teams. These groups require intake procedures that take into account the various employment trajectories.
Hence IT companies can use a solution to set up an automated intake process that works with a form at the front. The clients will fill out the form sharing the details asked. Based on the request and work, the software will screen the form and ask for any additional or pending information.
It will then forward the work to the designated person based on an algorithm that helps the software select the work to the right person. In an IT company, the intake process is simple because the kind of work they deliver is also streamlined.
2. Marketing Company Intake Process:
A marketing company’s request system needs to be robust and highly integrated. The intake process must clearly define the work scope, deadlines, deliverables, requirements, documentation, and goals.
Working on these aspects makes it easier for the team to get clarification on the project requests and organize the data accordingly. The effective organization of the intake process will reduce the number of follow-ups.
Moreover, a lot depends on the type of responses you require from the client. You can build a form with an “if-then” logic. For example, when the client requests an omnichannel campaign, the form will accordingly show the list of options.
3. Human Resources Intake Process:
In the field of human resources, there are various different types of intake processes. Employee onboarding is the most evident, in which you establish records for new team members.
You also need to have other intake processes and mechanisms in place for employee reviews, training, performance reviews, reporting, among others. These processes require a distinctive intake procedure catering specifically to the process-based requirements.
You may even construct two separate intake procedures, one for new hires and the other for recruiting and development requirements.