Project Proposal 101

21 Mar

A project proposal is a very important tool for organizing time and resources to complete a project.  A proposal has a specific purpose to help convince someone that a project can and should be completed.  Below are some helpful tips and items to help you in writing your next project proposal. 

 1)      Understand your Audience:  Who will be reading the project proposal?  Management?  IT? CEO?

2)      Ask Questions and Fully Understand the Goal of the Project:  If there is anything that seems vague, ask for further clarification and provide a list of possible options as to what you thinking they might have meant

3)      Summarize the Project: Take all of the information on the project that you received from the client thus far and summarize it briefly, using your own works with an opening paragraph.  This makes sure you understand the project and your client has confidence that you have given it thought and understand what they want.   

4)      Create a “To Do” List: It is very helpful to both you and your client to provide a to-do list.  Be very thorough so you give your client a strong sense that you know what you’re doing and doing it well. This helps prevent items from falling through the cracks and helps show the progress of the project and makes it easier to split your to-do list into simple, clearly defined phases.

5)      Provide a Timeline: Once you have completed the project phases, let your client(s) know approximately how long you expect the project to take.  Be reasonable and generous.  I tend to estimate projects 10-25% longer than I normally take to complete things, as I rather complete it early, than have to say it will be late.  Also, this gives room for any unexpected surprises along the way.  You also have to remember there could be a lot of waiting time between initial drafts and the finished project, as the client reviews the work and provides feedback, and you don’t want to rush this process. 

6)      Proposal Outline: Include titles in your project proposal, such as:

  • Title Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Project Definition: Objectives, Scope, Deliverables, Plan & Timeline, and Assumptions
  • Business Case
  • Quality Expectations
  • Acceptance Criteria
  • Known Risks
  • Summary
  • Conclusion

7)      Have a Multiple Choice Pricing Strategy: Once the details have been completed and your client is confident in your understanding of the project, provide your client with a few pricing options.  For example, a flat rate or hourly rate with your total estimated hours. 

8)       Offer a Satisfaction Guarantee: Once you have provided them with the price, be sure to increase the client’s confidence that you are committed to working on the project until they are fully satisfied. 

9)      Call of Action:  Once the details, price, and guarantee is given, ask what is next and when you plan to start their project.  Make sure you take care of the payment, whether you require it upfront or where to send the money.

10)   Write and Format Professionally: Make sure your writing is free of misspellings and grammatical errors.  Take some extra time to proof read your proposal and fix any little errors that may have slipped in. 

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