Intake Documents

What are intake documents? Intake documents are documents prepared at the beginning of a job, usually based on the requests of a customer.

You might write an intake document if:

  • A customer is placing an order for something to be manufactured
  • A customer is placing an order for repairs to be completed
  • A customer is ordering parts or products
  • Another department has asked you to complete work, and you must convey this to your employees/colleagues

Why are they important? No matter how good someone is at their job (fixing, building, designing, repairing, troubleshooting, etc.) they cannot work effectively if they do not know or fully understand what the task is. Imagine how hard it would be to fix someone’s car if the customer did not identify the problems they’re experiencing. Imagine how hard it would be to design a piece of equipment for a factory if you did not know  what the factory produced. Poorly written intake documents may result in lost time and poor customer relations.

What goes in an intake document? This varies a lot based on the industry, the customer, and the job.  However, by answering the following questions you can ensure that all the correct information goes into the document:

  • Is this a request for manufacturing, repairs, or and order parts/products?
  • Who is going to use this document, and what do they need to know to get the job done/order filled?
  • How well does the customer understand the job/order?
  • Does my company have a standard form they use for this kind of document?
  • Are there specific measurements or quantities that need to be included in this document?
  • Are there unusual circumstances that should be mentioned in this document (these might include an unusual time frame, shipping instructions, or recent repairs)?

Final Step – Before you finish this document, restate everything you have written to the customer.  Ask the customer if your document says what they want it to say. Have you left anything out? Have you made any mistakes? The customer is your best fact-checker. In some cases, it’s customary to send the customer a copy of your intake document. Intake documents often serve as a contract between you and the customer, ensuring that you agree on the work to be completed or the order to be filled.

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Technical Writing for Technicians by Will Fleming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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