Gone are the days when people had to rush toward people to seek guidance. By following this article, you will learn how to write an effective project proposal in no time if you are not an expert.
Before leading towards the pool of information, learn what actually is a project proposal. The project proposal is the initial document to define an internal or external project. The proposal includes the title, start and end dates, objectives and goals, requirements, and a descriptor of the proposed solution. In addition, the project proposal functions as the working document between the agency and the client before a potential initiation of the project.
Furthermore, it is a method to analyze the feasibility and profitability of the project for the internal party. Writing a successful project proposal mandates being on the same page with the clients and wearing their shoes for a moment. You need to think the way they do and figure out exactly what they want to achieve with the project. Keep reading this article to know further details on how to write a project proposal.
What is a project proposal?
A project proposal is a document that describes a proposed project and its purpose, outcomes, and the steps that you take to complete the project. Unlike a project contract, a project proposal aims to communicate how a company, team, or individual plans to approach a project. While the fundamental elements of a project proposal differ depending on the project itself, there are several critical elements of a project proposal, such as project background, objectives, and project scope.
Your project proposal should outline your project components and sell your idea, so stakeholders purchase into the initiative. Basically, the project proposal works as the working document between the client and the agency before a potential initiation of the project. Thus, the project proposal defines the objectives and requirements of a project for the external party. For the internal party, it is a strategy to analyze the feasibility and profitability of the project. The primary pursuit of the project proposal is to fetch the client to buy into your services.
However, project proposals are a great way to secure funding, win new clients, or convince executives to allocate resources to projects. Once you start thinking from the client’s perspective, it is the stage of writing a project proposal when you start focusing on the results critical for the client. It demonstrates why successful organizations delve into so much detail with their project proposals. Because a project proposal outlines your project’s value proposition, you will have the advantage of having the following elements in it:
- Project timeline
- Central problem
- Project budget
- Project resources
- Key project deliverables
Project proposal outline
A project proposal outline can be interesting, dynamic, and exciting. As long as you know what to include, how to get the most out of each section, and the secret sauce most people forget to layer in, your following project proposal outline can impress stakeholders or even the most challenging clients. The project proposal is not only the type of documentation that is widely useful, but it’s also often a pre-project requirement for work across all industries. The design provided in a project proposal outline is what sets a new goal up for success.
A project proposal outline is the blueprint of your project. It’s how you envisage your project will play out as work moves. Your project plan describes how you intend to satisfy project deliverables, who are on the project team, and what resources you’ll need. Depending on the project size, you can split your outline into logical phases, then break them into sub-items to clearly illustrate all the work involved. It’s common for project managers to set out the entire project scope from start meeting to end deliverable.
No project outline is complete without anticipated timeframes for each phase and action, with significant milestones stated in the plan. You will need to cover these essential elements at a minimum for your project outline. However, programs can be more detailed, containing information such as work approval processes and communication strategies too. You will have to gather the information together first. An excellent way of doing this is to ask yourself probing questions to draw out the critical data you need.
What is the format of a proposal?
Selecting your proposal’s right words and organization is essential to best communicate your project to the donor. In addition, presenting this information can also play a leading role in ensuring the donor gets the message. It should include the project’s objective, goals, specific pursuits, method, and anticipated effect. Objectives need to be stated in measurable terms and be clear and consistent with the proposed project’s statement of need and pursuit. To write an excellent project proposal, follow these guidelines:
- The project proposal should not exceed ten pages, excluding the attachments cover sheet and table of contents.
- Make sure that all the requested information is provided.
- Attach the cover sheet in all cases. The cover sheet should be signed by an authorized official of the organization, which will administer and be held accountable for the grant funds.
- The project title should be brief and defining.
- Include a table of contents detailing the contents of your submission as well as the attachments that you wish to be considered.
- The executive summary is a short, precise summary of your project proposal, so make sure to include a brief outline of your project description and how your project contributes to the achievement of national development.
- The international office and grant funding unit will provide you with an organizational form. Describe your organization and address each of these points, including
- The mandate for your organization
- Structure of the organization
- Ownership of the organization
- Partners for this project and their part in the project
- Impact on the non-university tertiary education sector
- Implications for national development.
- Write the project description, such as the need for the project and how the proposal was developed.
- Explain why the project is being proposed, how it connects to indicator achievement, and how it is innovative.
- If the project is proposed by more than one organization or involves more than one organization in the implementation process, explain the nature of the partnership required.
- The proposed project’s pursuit should be directly related to the priorities outlined in the EDF sector policy support program. Indicators should be as clear, concise, and focused as possible. It should contain the project’s purpose, goals, specific objectives, method, and anticipated effect.
- Objectives need to be expressed in measurable terms and be specific and consistent with the statement of need and the proposed project’s plan. Goals should be formulated as a clear statement of what is expected to be achieved through project implementation. These expected outcomes should be measurable and conceptually related to the objectives and goals of the sector policy support program and the purposes outlined in the medium-term policy framework.
- Describe the actions that will comprise project implementation.
- Add a work plan and cover how the project objectives will be accomplished, what outcomes will be produced, what needs to be done, and by whom. It also covers how the work will be managed, within what time frame, how project outcomes will be monitored, and reports supplied to the EDF steering committee.
- Provide a plan of work outlining the project’s objectives, strategies, outcomes, main tasks, and timelines. The use of a project log frame may prove to be helpful.
- Describe how and by whom the proposed project will be managed and performed and identify how the knowledge, skills, and proficiency required for implementation will be met.
- Describe the proposed project site to be used and the standards for its selection.
- Add the project monitoring section that contains a description of how the organization will monitor the progress and the outcomes of the project and its contribution to indicator achievement.
- Your proposal should contain a detailed budget justification explaining an assessment for each line item.
- There is no limit to the number of pages allowed for the attachments, documentation from other funding agencies, letters of agreement with partners for the project, or letters of support from other community groups or organizations. You may also forward copies of different materials that may assist the project selection committee to consider your application.
What should a project proposal include?
A project proposal includes sections such as title, start, end dates, objectives and goals, requirements, and a descriptor of the proposed solution. Following are the components a good project proposal should include:
1. Project objectives
The objectives in a project proposal communicate the project’s desired outcomes, whether these outcomes are deliverable or results. This part of your project proposal serves as an acknowledgment that you fully understand the goals of the project but also acts as a guide for your project planning. Consider these objectives as the targets every project stage should aim toward achieving.
2. Project background
The project background is a persuasive element of your proposal that reinforces the need for the project while introducing how you will be able to help attain those goals. This part of your project proposal should include information about why the project is being sought, for instance, problems, challenges, or current opportunities, and how the project can fulfill those needs.
3. Project scope
The project scope includes facts about what the project will entail. You should be especially specific, as this sets the direction for the project expectations that will be agreed upon when you write and sign the contract. The scope is usually one of the more extended parts of a project proposal. It lets the client know what to expect and helps establish you or your company as the right choice to complete the project. In the project scope, you should retain:
- Any constraints that may affect the project
- Key deliverables and what each entails
- Project exclusions, if any, ought to be defined
- Points of measurement or review
- Assumptions and plans for how you will address doubtful information as it arises
- Any known issues or risks and how they will be controlled
4. Plan, timeline, and budget
This is the part of the project proposal where you outline exactly how the project described in the scope will be finished. Take the time to do this section right, as it will define the project’s proposed timeline and budget requirements. It’s essential to go into this section knowing the available resources, their availability, their costs, and a projection for any materials required to complete the project.
For a more accurate statement of expectations, make sure to detail the time for review and revisions, contingencies that impact the budget, and other information that might affect the timeline, process, or budget.
5. Next steps
This may include a final consultation call or meeting, drafting and approving a contract, having an onboarding call, setting a start date, etc. Make it straightforward for the client to move from saying “let’s do this” to initiating the project.
How to write a project proposal?
To get an instant positive reader response to your project proposal, follow these tips:
- Keep in mind that a proposal is the first step of any project. Use project management software to draft your project concepts and present more detailed, visual tools along with your written document to make a more significant impact.
- Find your unique hook and bowl it down to its essence. Even if the solution or methods are not new, offering a higher-quality service like breaking complex projects down into bite-size phases in your proposal can make all the difference.
- Brainstorm questions you think the person or team you will pitch will ask. This includes questions about possible obstructions down the line, how you plan to deliver your project management status update etc. If you are using software to help with your proposal, you can reassure them with details on how you plan to respond to anticipated challenges and build trust with features like real-time work visibility.
- Provide relevant big-picture context to the problem you are going to solve. Defining project scope and dependencies from the outset is enormous, so you should include what resources you plan to track and how you plan to monitor them in your proposal outline. A quality project management software makes this a lot easier to accomplish consistently at every stage of the project.
- Practice answering questions about your pitch, particularly ones that don’t seem relevant. You never know what curveballs you will field during a presentation, but you can bet they will have something to do with the potential curveballs you will be thrown during the project. If you use visual project management tools, you’ll always maintain flow control no matter what happens.
- Go straight to the point in every section of your project strategy. Use precise language and avoid double-talk.
- Depending on who you pitch to, emphasize the project outcomes significantly impacting the decision-maker. Remember that sometimes the motivations of two decision-makers in one company may differ. For example, listening to the head of engineering instead of pitching to the marketing director will require tweaking your project proposal outline to highlight technical benefits over marketing ROI.
How to write a project proposal for funding?
Funding proposals must be treated as projects with a defined deliverable or result for the money pursued. Projects must show substantial results, or funding will not be granted. A successful grant proposal is one that is carefully designed, planned, and packaged. Before you start, you need to prepare. First, you need to define your fundraising goals, estimate the cost, develop the timeline of your project, and find prospective funds.
Follow the tips mentioned below to write an effective project proposal:
- Write a strong cover letter
- Start with a short executive summary
- Introduce your organization
- Write a direct problem statement
- State your goals and objectives
- Project design: methods and strategies
- The evaluation section: tracking the success
- Other funding sources and sustainability
- Outline a project budget
Types of a project proposal
There are almost six types of project proposals:
Send a continuation proposal when you want a reminder or an update about an ongoing project that’s already been approved. With this proposal, you provide an update on the project and ask for approval to carry on with the project. These proposal types are the easiest to write unless the client wants significant changes moving forward.
The supplemental project proposal is secured when you need approval for extra resources for the project. Provide reasons, justify why those resources are needed, and create an updated estimate of what the project will take to complete.
Formally solicited proposal
You can use this type of proposal when you are responding to an official request for a proposal. In most cases, this will be the most accessible type of proposal to write as the potential client or customer will specify what they are looking for. In some cases, they will even outline what they want the proposal to cover.
Informally solicited proposal
This type of proposal is the exact as the formally solicited proposal, but with one difference. The information in the proposal is not clearly specified in an official document or request. Typically, you will write this proposal when a client or customer is interested in what you have got to offer and asks for a proposal. Since the client doesn’t specify their needs, you will need to do more research to analyze the client and understand what they are looking for.
The unsolicited proposal is like a cold call. You could send an unsolicited proposal if you stumbled upon a potential client and think that your offer is precisely according to their need. This is one of the most challenging proposal types to write. You will have to do plenty of research upfront and be very convincing in how you present your project proposal ideas.
Use the renewal proposal after you have completed a project and want to make a case for continued support. When it comes to renewal proposals, remember to provide convincing proof of why it’s beneficial to continue with the project.
Why are project proposals important?
A proposal is not just about securing a new project. It’s about representing your team and your organization with responsibility. Some will dismiss a business proposal as just ‘sales talk,’ saying whatever you think needs to be communicated to win over a potential client. But the reality is that a poorly executed proposal can cause reputational damage, create proposed approaches that have gaping holes, and even get your organization into detrimental business terms.
When done right, a successful proposal can unlock new and exciting work, help an organization grow, and positively contribute to culture and morale. Whether you work for a startup, a small business, or a massive enterprise, it’s essential to have a solid process that finds the balance between being competitive and practicing due caution.
Writing a project proposal is crucial as it represents your whole plan as the project proposal is the initial document to define an internal or external project. In a project proposal, the sections such as title, start and end dates, objectives and goals, requirements, and a descriptor of the proposed solution are covered. In addition, the project proposal functions as the working document between the agency and the client before a potential initiation of the project.