HOW TO

How to Write a Project Proposal

A project proposal is a good way to get your idea across and get investors interested. It also involves a lot of creativity and research skills.

A well-written project proposal receives immediate approval and opens life-changing doors. So, it is important to take time to write a project proposal.

In this article, we will teach you how to write a project proposal, read it carefully and assimilate it.

What is a project proposal?

A project proposal is an important document that describes an internal or external project. It is meant to arouse the interest of decision-makers and investors. It states information like the objectives, milestones, goals, and requirements needed to begin and finish a project.

A project proposal should communicate the ideas of the writer to the stakeholders. At the end of the project proposal, a stakeholder should know the central idea of your proposal, the start and end dates, and why your idea should be executed.

You can use a project proposal to win new clients, secure funding, convince existing clients to extend the contract, or/and convince an employer to reallocate resources to a new initiative.

A project proposal is not to be confused with a contract or a business proposal. A business proposal is a document that outlines legal terms.

The project proposal is only signed by sponsors or clients to approve its contents. Once the project proposal is signed and approved, a business begins to draft a contract in addition to items like a project plan and a project charter.

A project proposal is simply a document that states everything stakeholders or investors need to know before approving a project.

A good project proposal has a standard format that includes the following elements: Executive summary, Background or history, Requirements, Solution, Authorization, and Appendix.

Elements that make up a project proposal

  • Executive summary
  • Background or history
  • Requirements
  • Solution
  • Authorization
  • Appendix

Executive summary: This is considered the project’s elevator pitch. It is short, clear, and to the point. It clearly states the problem and addresses how the proposed project plan to solve the problem. It also discusses what a successful project resembles.

Background or history: This section outlines the previous projects both the successful and the unsuccessful ones. It also states how the unsuccessful project could have been handled to ensure success, and how the lessons learned from the failed project will propel the proposed project to be successful.

Requirements: This section summarises briefly all that is required throughout the project’s life cycle regarding tools, resources, and project schedules, among others.

Solution: This section describes how the project intends to solve the problem. It also covers the techniques, project management steps, and skills required to get things done expertly.

Authorization: This section states clear-cut who the project’s stakeholders are and the decision-makers authorized by the client to approve or sign off decisions.

Appendix: This section contains information that was added to the main proposal like resources and materials that stakeholders and team members can use to know more about the project.

‍Types of Project Proposals

  • Solicited project proposals
  • Unsolicited project proposals
  • Continuation project proposals
  • Renewal project proposals
  • Supplemental project proposals

  • Solicited project proposals

There are two types of solicited project proposals and there are formally and informally.

A formally solicited project proposal responds to a Request for proposal (REF). Project managers often initiate this type of project proposal, and it comes with specific directions. A formally solicited project proposal has a high chance of approval if it is well-written.

An informally solicited project proposal can be difficult to write. It is similar to the formally solicited project proposal but commonly requested through an informal communication channel or verbally. No specific directions are given for this type of project proposal.

  • Unsolicited project proposals

This type of project proposal is written without any requests. The writer composes a proposal he or she believes will benefit them, a business, or an individual and get it across to them.

This project proposal requires a lot of research and hard work to get approved. It can be referred to as a cold call. No one specifically asked for it, but that doesn’t mean that no one will want it.

  • Continuation project proposals

This type of project proposal is commonly done when a project enters into a new phase or fresh budgets or resources are required to ensure that a project continues. It is done on a calendar basis.

Continuation project proposals are easier to write because the project itself is already approved and running. It is simply a reminder or an update of an already approved project. It also focuses on reminding rather than persuading.

  • Renewal project proposals

Renewal project proposals should not be confused with continuation project proposals. It comes into play when a project has ended and needs to restart.
The success data of a project heavily influence the writing of this type of project proposal.

  • Supplemental project proposals

This type of project proposal comes into play when more funding or resources are needed for an approved or ongoing project. It can be considered the continuation of the main project document.

The first three types of proposals are usually the longest, because they deal with new projects, while the final three project proposals center on existing projects and relationships and can be typically shorter.

Things to consider before writing a proposal for a project

Below are some of the things to consider before seating down to write a project proposal. The points below will help you in writing your project proposal outline.

  • Your audience
  • Potential pitfalls
  • Data and research

  • Your audience

The first thing to consider before writing a project proposal is your audience. You need to identify your audience and write proposals to fit their goals. Each stakeholder might have something different in mind. If you can, write different versions of the same proposal.

Identifying your audience will determine the type of language and grammar to use in your writing. Once you identify your audience, you are on your way to writing a good project proposal.

  • Potential pitfalls

This is another step to consider before writing a project proposal. There are certain pitfalls you must avoid if you want your project proposal to be approved. Some of them are; poorly defined proposals, proposals not aligning with organizational goals, and benefits of the project not clearly defined, among others.

  • Data and research

You must make sure your data are correct before writing your project proposal. Take time to research previous projects, both the failed and successful ones and learn and apply.
A project proposal requires figures, facts, charts, and graphs to support your proposal and justify the existence of the project.

How to write a project proposal

  • Determine and establish the problem
  • Present your solution
  • Determine your success criteria and deliverables
  • Declare your approach or plan
  • Outline your project schedule and budget
  • Conclude
  • Editing and Proofreading

  • Determine and establish the problem

The first step you should take before writing a project proposal is to define the problem and understand why it is a problem. Ask yourself why the problem should be solved and try to make your audience see the problem from your point of view.

To get the problem across to your audience (decision-makers) you need to start strong and make sure that the problem is described vividly and briefly in a way that resonates with your audience.

You should also use facts, don’t over exaggerate or use your emotions and opinions. Let them see the problem with facts.

Why it is important to make your audience see the problem is that much time is not given to look through the proposal by the decision-makers.

  • Present your solution

After you identify the problem, the next step is to present a solution. Once you get your solution, you must go through it and ask yourself if that is the solution that the problem deserves and if it is better than others.

When presenting your solution, prepare for questions and objections. Prepare yourself with facts and figures to defend your solution. Also, present the large impact of your solution.

  • Determine your success criteria and deliverables

In this step, you need to provide a clear picture of the attributes and functions of the deliverables and how they will make the project successful.

You should define what your project will deliver and when. Make sure your solution is kept SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.)

  • Declare your approach or plan

This is where you describe how you intend to solve the problem. You explain the approach or plan that you will use to achieve the objectives of the project.

  • Outline your budget and schedule

This is where you breakdown the costs of the project and the explain how you intend to meet deadlines (manage your schedule)

  • Conclude

This is where you end your proposal. You should summarize the problems, solutions, and benefits of the project. It is also important to highlight the important part of the project and make your proposal unique by restating facts or ideas that you need your audience to remember.

Make sure that your proposal is consistent and supports the problem and your solution. Do not introduce anything in your conclusion.

  • Editing and proofreading

It is important to take a second look at your project proposal before submitting it. Edit and proofread to avoid unnecessary grammatical and typographical errors. Check your writing tone and language. Make sure it is persuasive.

Your project proposal tone and language must match the audience. It should also look professional, organized, and visually appealing. If your proposal is not professional enough, you can rewrite it.

Conclusion

A good project proposal combines project management skills with other essential skills: research, data analysis, and some copywriting.
We hope you found this article on “How to write a project proposal” informative.

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