How to write a project proposal?

Before you understand how to write a project proposal, we recommend you to take some time to understand what makes this document authentic and why it is usually written.

A project proposal is written in order to justify a specific project and outline its core proposition. Basically, it familiarizes the stakeholders with the project`s value. The main goal of the project proposal is to engage the stakeholders and potential sponsors. Once you get their attention, you will probably get them excited by your project.

When working on this paper, you should know how to get in the heads of your readers. You have to understand how do they think, what are their interests, values, and preferences, as well as what they want to get in the future. Without any doubts, having this information, you will be able to create a project that will intrigue and satisfy them.

Learn about grant proposal writing: "How to write a grant proposal step by step"

What are the essential types of project proposals?

  • A formally solicited proposal. This document usually assumes writing a response to a certain request. As such, this paper is designed to address the Request for Proposal (RFP) document outlining the customer`s specific needs and demands. A formally solicited project proposal is just a well-written and properly structured response to this document. Having an RFP document, the researcher finds it easier to write a project proposal as it clearly explains what points should be discovered exactly. Any successful entrepreneur knows that good project planning can prevent many misunderstandings;
  • An informally solicited proposal. There are no clear customers` needs and demands that should be addressed. Actually, such a document is just the rough starting point that suggests the project`s viability. The main difference between the formal and informal proposals is the number of details. As a rule, informal proposals lack the important project details such as the objectives, deliverables, and methods, whereas a formal proposal includes all these aspects. In other words, an informally solicited proposal can be described as the document lacking the specifics;
  • An unsolicited proposal. This document is like a cold call: nobody expected to get it done. However, being written well, such a document can solve a lot of problems. An unsolicited project proposal is one of the instruments for conducting a conversation with the customer. If you think that this document is pretty easy to write, you are not right. Actually, this project proposal is, perhaps, the most challenging as the writer will have to put extra effort in order to convince the reader in the project`s viability. In most cases, these proposals require extra research in order to meet the expectations of the target audience;
  • A continuation proposal. It usually serves as an update for the already approved project. This type of project proposal is the easiest one because, in its essence, it is just the continuation of the ready-made document. This paper is usually written in order to assure the audience that the previous phases were conducted right and the following phase received the necessary financial support. As such, this document shows that the company has enough resources to move forward;
  • A renewal proposal. Such a proposal is often required when the ongoing project was terminated for some reason, thus the support and resources cannot be used. It should convince the stakeholders that the return on investment is significantly greater than the money being spent. As such, the project deserves reconsidering;
  • A supplemental proposal. This type of proposal is usually required when the project that was originally proposed needs additional support. The essential goal of the supplemental project proposal is to prove the importance of adding new resources, as well as update the audience on the timeline of the new plan. In many cases, a supplemental proposal is written when the scope of the original project has exceeded the initial expectations. Therefore, a supplemental proposal is usually considered as a continuation of the initial proposal document.
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Writing a project proposal: Points to consider

When writing a project proposal, the author should consider several strategic aspects, which are as follows:

  1. Core problem. What is the main problem you are trying to solve in your project?
  2. Triple constraint. How you are going to solve the triple constraint that includes the scope, cost, and schedule?
  3. Resources. What resources you are going to utilize in your project?
  4. Deadline. What is the expected deadline for your project?
  5. Strategic goals. What are the strategic goals of your customers and in what way does your proposal fit these goals?
  6. Budget. What is the budget for your project? 
  7. Client benefit. How will your customer benefit from your project completion?
  8. Responsible parties. Who are the individuals responsible for the completion of your project? What are their motivation and goals?
  9. Project success. What deliverables should be seen by the stakeholders?
Learn about research proposal writing: "Ten helpful tips on writing excellent research proposal"

Project proposal outline

Have a look at our project proposal outline as it will definitely help you understand how to write a project proposal of exceptional quality.

icon1 Information about the project

This section should provide your reader with detailed information on your project and its essential details. Make sure this section includes the following points:

  1. The name of your company;
  2. The title of your project;
  3. The executive summary;
  4. The deadline of the project;
  5. The name of the author;
  6. Project contracts (the names of the individuals involved in the project).

icon2 Project summary

This part of your project proposal should briefly explain the key reasons for writing the proposal, as well as state the main objectives clearly. This section requires applying a very professional approach because every single detail matters a lot. Some writing experts suggest writing the project summary last of all as it will help you to have a clear vision of all points that are discussed in your proposal. In order to catch the interest of your readers, you need to answer the following questions:

  1. Why you are working on this project?
  2. What exactly you are planning to do?
  3. Who will be doing it?
  4. Where the project will be done?

icon3 Project background

This section includes a few meaningful sentences clarifying the problem you are tackling. You should realize that it is critically important to clarify the problem your project is addressing. As such, you need to inform your reader about the current state of your problem and explain why your readers should care about its solving. Ideally, this section should include statistics and references to give value to your words. As for the length, it should fit one page;

icon4 Project methodology

This section of your project proposal is a part in which you suggest a detailed plan explaining how you are going to achieve your objectives. It is the first section of your proposal that outlines the course of action to solve the problem. As such, you need to outline the methods being used, as well as the population being addressed. The project methodology section is usually divided into three major parts:

  1. The project approach summary. Use several sentences to discuss the overall approach used in your project. For instance, you should explain how your team will be organized, what tools you are going to utilize, as well as what challenges you may face during the project execution;
  2. Task breakdown and deadline estimation. This is the part of your project proposal in which you have to present a clear project schedule. To complete it well, you need to take the list of tasks that will be completed and set a reasonable deadline for each of them. Having this information, you will be able to organize the work of your team properly. The essential goal of this section is to understand what steps it is necessary to take in order to reach the expected outcome, as well as how much time will it take. Actually, it is the section in which you start turning your ideas into actions;
  3. Project deliverables. In this section, make sure to list all deliverables you expect to see after the project completion. This list will include the reports, information, or products you are going to deliver to the client.

icon5 Project risk management

This section defines the potential risks that may appear during the project execution. The potential customers know that the proposal rarely contains everything that is needed for the successful completion of the project. As such, make sure to inform them about how you are going to monitor the success of your project. Without any doubts, it will convince your clients that is some change occurs, your project won`t fail. This section includes two major parts:

  1. Risk register. A line-item list of risks and efforts that will be taken to eliminate these risks.
  2. Risk management plan. It is a detailed and well-structured plan of actions that aims to minimize the risk of change during the project lifecycle;

icon6 Project costs

This section should include the estimated budget for your project. It should include the overall project budget and the budget narrative including any comments that may be helpful for the stakeholders.

icon7 Conclusion

A conclusion of your project proposal should not include new information but should just address the points that were previously discussed. Please, note that your conclusion is the last chance to make a good impression on your target audience and get their approval. Thus, you should emphasize that your proposal is adequately researched and it is a good fit for their interests. 

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