Before your team can take action and start working towards project goals, you need a project proposal to highlight the value of your project, outline what you hope to achieve, and secure stakeholder buy-in.
Read on to learn about project proposal templates, their importance, how to create one, and even DOWNLOAD your FREE project proposal template.
What is a Project Proposal?
A project proposal is a written document outlining a project’s details and essential information, such as the timeline, budget, scope, objectives, and goals. Beyond just providing project details, the project proposal should paint a clear picture of the project, its’ importance, and why stakeholders should buy in.
Why is a Project Proposal Important?
The project proposal is the cornerstone of the pre-project process and it is a prerequisite to beginning project work. During the pre-project phase, the project proposal serves as a vessel, translating ideas about the project into a concrete plan that’s easily relayed to stakeholders. However, once stakeholder buy-in is secured, the project proposal continues to serve as a valuable resource for the project team, by laying the framework for other essential documents, such as the project charter and business case.
How is a Project Proposal Different from Other Documents?
While project proposals are often confused with project charters, they are distinctly different. The project proposal is drafted and presented to key stakeholders before the project lifecycle ever begins. The project charter includes many of the same components as a project proposal, including the expected timeline, budget, stakeholders, scope, and potential risks, but it’s delivered after stakeholder approval to start the project is secured. Project proposals are also commonly confused with project proposals because of their close association with each other, yet, business cases, similar to project charters, are drafted after the project lifecycle has begun.
Parts of a Project Proposal
The presentation and delivery of a project proposal may vary based on the type of proposal, but overall, it should include a few universal components that speak to crucial questions about the project itself, such as:
The introduction of your project proposal provides a quick overview of the project without going into granular detail. While this portion of the proposal is usually under 500 words, it should provide a general roadmap of what you plan to accomplish with some context about the project itself.
The problem portion of your project proposal, also considered the background phase, should detail what problem your project aims to solve while highlighting the significance of this project in comparison to your organization’s unique goals and history.
The solution phase is the time to roll out the details of your project, the advantages that it will bring your organization, and how you plan to make the project successful. Be sure to make clear connections between your project solution and existing company pain points, while highlighting how your project can address them. As you outline the advantages of the project, also include details about potential risks and mitigation strategies.
Deliverables & Goals
The deliverables and goals segment should clearly outline the SMART goals you have set in place to accomplish key project goals, as well as how those goals relate back to organizational needs. Now is the time to also outline key deliverables, as well as the tentative timeline for them to be delivered.
When it comes to project planning, resource management is an essential part of the process. You’ll need to consider a wide variety of resource types: from team members to external contractors, tangible resources (such as software), and financial resources. During this portion of the proposal, you should outline a budget for the project while detailing the resources you will require.
The closing remarks section should quickly summarize the information you’ve presented while tying up any loose ends. Consider that stakeholders will likely have follow-up questions, which you should be prepared to answer.
Types of Project Proposals
There are numerous types of project proposals based on their intended use:
Solicited project proposals are sent in response to a request for a proposal document sent expressing interest in a project or initiative. This type of project proposal is often used to compare proposals from multiple vendors who are both under consideration for a job, which is common in bid-focused industries such as construction.
Unsolicited project proposals allow you to bring a new idea to the table to solve a company problem or optimize an existing process. While this type of proposal is not asked for, it gives you a chance to advocate for a new project that might have otherwise been overlooked.
An informal project proposal is a simple outline of a project that does not follow the formal format. Informal proposals can come in a variety of formats but ultimately need to be much more succinct than a formal proposal, conveying only the essential details and getting to the point quickly.
A project renewal proposal is common in a circumstance where a project needs to restart again. This type of proposal is typically used to convey the success of a previous project and highlight why similar results can be achieved if a renewal is granted.
A project continuation proposal, similar to a project renewal proposal, is sent to request additional time or resources to prolong the project. For example, if a project needs additional resources to be completed, a continuation is the best choice of proposal.
How to Write a Project Proposal
- Understand the Problem
In order to write a proper proposal, you need to highlight your understanding of the problem and how the project addresses those problems.
- Flush Out the Solution & Endgoals
When writing a proposal, it’s helpful to reverse engineer your thinking to identify your end goals first, working backward to create a plan for making those goals possible.
- Outline Your Deliverables
Create a comprehensive list of deliverables that you expect to deliver, considering what order they will need to be delivered in. This stage can also help you flush out task assignments and deadlines as you move into the action phase of the project after stakeholders give the green light.
- Consider Any Obstacles or Challenges
Don’t get so caught up in the positives of your project that you forget to consider any risks, obstacles, or challenges you may encounter.
- Create a Plan for Tackling the Project (Schedule/Budget/Etc)
While the plan itself will likely change after the proposal phase, you need to present a rough idea of the schedule, budget, resources needed, and for larger projects, the phases your project will follow.
- Polish It Up
After you’ve drafted your proposal, take the time to step away from it and come back later with fresh eyes to edit. Polish it up by adding in any final details, reformatting any hard-to-read sections, and considering questions that stakeholders may have.