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A successful project manager always strives for a recurring set of workflows, tools and business relationships, but they also have to remain skilled enough to manage ad hoc requests. These quick, turn-around projects typically present themselves out of the blue, and can pose incredible disruption to the everyday work process.

The key to managing requests on-the-fly is the ability to prepare even quicker. Delivering great ROI on reduced timelines is a skill often learned through trial and error. The true secret lies in the fact that you don’t have to be a genius, you just need a little structure.

Establishing a process to something that feels chaotic can be one of the biggest challenges in project management. Therefore, in order to get organized, you must first understand what truly defines an “ad hoc” request.

What is an Ad Hoc Request?

An ad hoc request in the industry of project management typically indicates a task or job that was unexpected, and therefore, largely unscheduled. It’s like a surprise popping up in the middle of your busy work week. Ad hoc projects are unique for some of the following reasons:

Time Span

Quick turnaround projects have tighter time frames than regular work. Therefore, it is entirely more difficult to plan for them. If a PM has previously established a standard for dealing with ad hoc projects, they’re already a step ahead of the game.

Localized Impact

Lager projects typically have multiple business entities involved in managing requests. They can even be part of a portfolio of interdependent tasks. Ad hoc projects, however, are usually focused on a single goal and/or a specific group of people.

Less Resource Intensive

Since these ventures are always last minute, the resources can be lacking. An ad hoc project demands immediate attention—which doesn’t always leave ample time for networking. “Ad hoc” expects PMs to rely on minimal resources in short instances.

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Managing Ad Hoc Requests

Despite the need to develop your own unique plan, there are certain universal methods to managing ad hoc requests. Here are just a few ways to ease the stress of a busy PM accomplishing these tasks:

Prioritize Risk

Many of the traditional procedures of project management are truncated by the ad hoc request. It is important to anticipate weaknesses and vulnerabilities during the planning phase. Be judicious about the risks that are bypassed to save time. In this situation, it is only appropriate to assess risks that are tied to value. Otherwise, leave it alone.


Managing anything last-minute takes incredible patience and flexibility. The ability to adapt to change faster, and thus, achieve objectives sooner is a common characteristic among successful PMs. This can easily be accessed through continuous visibility, intuitive interfacing and diligent delegation. Full reporting will also facilitate greater transparency.


In order to eliminate chaos in a chaotic situation, one must bring everything to light. Creating transparency with an ad hoc project ensures 24/7 accountability and is also a quick way to develop trust. Connecting people with the full context of their work will always drive efficiency.

Work Smarter

Cloud-based project management software is the key to taking on more than you can chew. That’s because, when tasks are automated, there is added time to manage projects accordingly. Automating simple admin work through a smart program means taking on ad hoc isn’t quite as stressful as it once proved to be. In other words, let the robot do the easy, yet time consuming, tasks.


The worst thing you can do is say “NO” to more business, so if you’ve just agreed to another ad hoc project, you’re already winning. Being able to catch everything that is thrown at you is what creates successful project management professionals. Ad hoc shouldn’t be feared—it should be revered. And with the right organization and modern tools, that open acceptance is a piece of cake.