What are your project approval processes?

Anyone working for a small to medium size business - what do your project approval processes look like and are they working well for you? Has anyone taken a good course or read a good book on these topics you can recommend?

We lack formal processes, and it’s becoming clear we have a problem in that projects and problems are coming in significantly faster than they are getting completed meaning our backlog is growing… Intuitively I think we need a more formal process where we get estimates and get “stake holders”(I’m not sure who that should be) to approve/buy in to the project. The other challenge being people tend to think what they want is more important than what everyone else wants, so it can be hard to figure out what truly is the most important project… Any advise would be greatly appreciated!

PS I have over 10 years of management experience, but IT is unique compared to past management experiences. As an example in managing new product releases the projects I work on are very consistent and I can get to know really well what to expect and what the priorities are. IT is a lot more challenging in that we’re constantly working on new projects, often things I know very little about making estimations more challenging and often it’s hard for me to know what is or isn’t important with out trusting what people tell me(I don’t have data I can look at to make decisions about priorities).

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