Project Proposal Template & Examples

A project proposal is a document that an organization, vendor, or contractor prepares to express their interest and capability in taking on a project. Done right, proposals help project managers establish credibility, close clients, acquire funding, and secure the necessary support and approval for projects to be implemented.

Project approval is probably one of the most exciting parts of project management, and a project proposal sets your project up for success. Referring to a project proposal template or example helps you craft a winning proposal because different types of projects and circumstances warrant different types of proposals. The examples here give you an idea of what to include in various proposal types and how to strike the right tone with stakeholders.

Read more: How to Write a Project Proposal

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Project Proposal Templates and Sections to Include

A project proposal takes many forms. Depending on your needs, it can be simple or highly detailed, and there are free templates available. Any format you choose should at least present a clear solution to a problem, outline the costs and resources necessary, and provide an anticipated timeline. Here’s a selection of project proposal templates and the kinds of project details to include in each. 

Software Development Proposal Template by Better Proposals

  • Objective and introduction
  • Key features and automated tasks in your software
  • Project process and timelines
  • Case studies
  • Budget, pricing
  • Guarantee
  • How to get started
  • Terms and conditions

Project Proposal Template by Pandadoc

  • Cover letter
  • Executive summary
  • Process
  • Project timelines and deliverables
  • Background information on your company
  • Budget, costs, billing, terms, and conditions

Project Proposal Template by monday.com

  • Problem definition
  • Goals and objectives
  • Project performance
  • Major project milestones
  • Cost-benefit analysis

Simple Project Proposal Template by Teamwork

  • Project summary
  • Background information
  • Proposed solution
  • Project scope
  • Schedule and timeline
  • Authorization and conclusion

Project Proposal Template Collection by Smartsheet

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Types of Project Proposals

The project proposal format you choose should be guided not only by the type of project. A range of other factors affect the content and angle of your project proposal. Such factors include:

  • Who the stakeholders are (internal vs. external)
  • Whether the proposal was requested in the first place (solicited vs. unsolicited)
  • The manner of project proposal solicitation (formal vs. informal)
  • Whether the proposal is for an ongoing contract or contract renewal

Internal Project Proposal

Internal project proposals are those you submit to internal stakeholders: your company’s board of directors, upper management, or a specific department in your organization. These groups have the authority to grant you the resources you need, or are beneficiaries of the project you’re trying to implement. 

For internal project proposals, you should have access to all the data necessary to make your case to internal stakeholders. Or, if not, you know whom to get in touch with. In either case, your goal should be to use the data to support the benefits of your proposed project. 

External Project Proposal

Unlike the internal project proposal, an external project proposal is what you submit to parties outside your company (also known as external stakeholders). Examples of such groups are the government, a prospective client, or a community organization.

Generally, an external project proposal requires more research than an internal one. Some relevant information is not readily available to people outside their organizations, so acquiring and packaging relevant information for your project in a cogent way is key for this type of project proposal. Be sure to build in extra time for the extra research and for access to gated information.

Unsolicited Proposal

Unsolicited proposals are those that you generate for a prospective client without them ever having requested or expected it. This kind of proposal is often borne out of the project team’s initiative or the recommendation of an external party. 

Compared to a solicited proposal, making an unsolicited one will require more research and effort to establish the relevance of your project and its viability for the potential client.

To do that, you’ll have to find ways to understand your prospective client’s situation, industry, hurdles, and resources. Without this level of understanding, it’s difficult for you to get the right eyes on your project proposal.

Solicited Proposal

Potential clients request proposals from contractors in what are known as (in)formal solicited proposals. 

A formally solicited proposal comes with a request for proposal (RFP) document. The RFP document outlines the requester’s needs and issues, along with the goals and opportunities they want to achieve through the completion of the project. 

Informally solicited proposals, on the other hand, often come without formal documentation. Rather, they emerge out of conversations between vendor and customer, for instance, as an email follow-up to a tradeshow conversation. 

Typically, when informally soliciting a project proposal, the prospective client may  not solicit submissions from competing vendors. Don’t let this perceived lack of competition lessen the amount of effort you put into your proposal. Research and write it as though your organization is up against your toughest competitors, showing a deep understanding of the client’s needs,  articulating your value to the client’s business, and demonstrating your organization’s track record of past project successes.

Supplemental Project Proposal

If you need additional resources for your ongoing project, you’ll need to submit a supplemental project proposal to concerned parties. Similar to the renewal project proposal, this can be easy or difficult to make, depending on your circumstances. 

Changes in the project scope due to client requests or new findings have to be justified if it’s why you need additional investment. On the other hand, massive discrepancies on your estimates without proper initial disclaimers raise questions and potentially create friction.

Ideally, with proper planning upfront, you won’t need a supplemental project proposal. However, extenuating circumstances necessitate this kind of proposal.

Continuation Proposal

A continuation proposal is one of the most straightforward proposals you need to make. It’s essentially an update on ongoing or approved projects. Build your continuation proposal around a concise update on your progress, project milestones met, and performance against budget, along with issues you encountered or anticipated. Providing a clear, concise summary of where the project is and what will be needed to keep it moving will provide the customer with the situational awareness they need to make their decision. 

Renewal Project Proposal

A renewal project proposal is what you send if your project contract is about to end or has been terminated. It’s a request for reinvestment so you can restart your project operations. Depending on the reasons for termination, writing a renewal project proposal can be easy or difficult.

If your project was terminated because of positive or neutral reasons (e.g., project completion, end of contract), you simply have to establish why it will be good for them to invest in you again. 

If the contract was terminated for unfavorable circumstances (e.g., missed deadlines, prematurely depleted resources), you’ll have to take time to evaluate the causes of the past mistakes and guarantee they won’t happen a second time.

A renewal project proposal is similar to your original proposal to the extent that you’re explaining what you’ll deliver for the client in the future. However, depending on the circumstances of the contract’s expiration, your organization may have  a lower hurdle to clear because the client has first hand experience with your organization.

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Key Components of a Project Proposal

A good project proposal should communicate the significance of the project, the team’s capabilities, and project feasibility and viability. There’s no one way to make a proposal. But here are the essential components to include in yours.

Problem Statement

  • Establish why your prospect should approve your project
  • Display a thorough understanding of your beneficiary’s industry and situation
  • Help them see the opportunities

Vision and Benefits

  • Research from the stakeholders’ perspectives how and why this project matters
  • Articulate how the proposed project positively impacts their organizational goals, values, and priorities

Goals and Objectives

  • Set SMART goals and measurable objectives that support the vision and achieve the benefits
  • Identify specific parameters that will define your project’s success
  • Ensure your stakeholders understand how these all contribute to solving their problems

Project Plan and Methods

  • Support your stated goals with information on how you and your team plan to achieve them
  • Convince your client of your team’s capability to fulfill your promises
  • Share the project deliverables they can expect from you
  • Provide a timeline and how you’ll report progress

Resources

  • Communicate your prospect’s role and responsibility in making the project happen
  • Be transparent about the financial, material, manpower, and other resources you need to implement your plans
  • Estimate costs and draft contingency plans as accurately as possible

Executive Summary

  • Summarizes the most relevant parts of the project proposal
  • Make it easily skimmable

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Writing an Effective Project Proposal

Writing an effective proposal is an essential skill in project management. Regardless of how good you are at project execution, securing opportunities for you to implement your projects is the critical  first step. 

Refine your skills in communicating your and your projects’ value and viability by consulting one of several free templates available based on project type. 

When making a template your own, consider the audience and the circumstances that give rise to the proposal in the first place. With this advice, you’re well on your way to writing a stellar project proposal that earns approval and promotes mutually beneficial business goals for you and your clients.

Read next: How to Successfully Host a Project Kickoff Meeting

Recommended Project Management Software

Free project management software is absolutely the place to start if you’re new to the game. As your projects become more complex, it may be time to consider a paid solution. If you’re ready to learn about  more top-rated project management software, the editors at Project-Management.com actively recommend the following:

Lauren Hansen

Lauren Hansen is a writer for TechnologyAdvice, covering IT strategy and trends, enterprise networking, and PM software for CIOInsight.com, enterprisenetworkingplanet.com, project-management.com, and technologyadvice.com. When she's not writing about technology trends, she's working out or spending time with family.