A great idea for a project has just popped up in your mind. You are sure it is exactly what your company needs and that it will be well worth the investment.
Still, that’s not enough for your project to see the light of day. The problem is: how to convince the decision-makers to give your project the green light?
Here’s the answer — a well-written and convincing project proposal! A masterfully crafted project proposal can make any project noticed and approved. And, with a few tricks, you’ll become an expert at writing impeccable project proposals!
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know regarding project proposals by exploring the following:
- What a project proposal is,
- Why a good project proposal is important,
- Types of project proposals,
- Steps to writing a project proposal,
- The key elements of a proposal.
You will also learn some tips that will help you write a compelling proposal to persuade even the most hardened skeptic.
Additionally, you will find a project proposal template that you can download and save time.
Table of Contents
What is a project proposal?
A project proposal is a document that defines your project ideas. It states:
- What the project is about,
- What its goals are, and
- How it should reach these goals.
It serves as a kind of advertisement for a potential project, aiming to capture the attention of stakeholders and investors. It should make them believe the project will solve a particular business problem, making it worth the investment.
A project proposal should outline several details about the project, including:
- Start date,
- End date,
- Objectives, etc.
To put it simply — without a project proposal there will be no project.
Why is a good project proposal important?
A well-written project proposal has multiple advantages.
An effective project proposal gives you a chance to put your ideas into practice. It clarifies goals of a project and states its priorities and requirements, with the purpose of helping you get buy-in.
As we’ve already mentioned, no proposal means no project. That is, if the proposal does not get the approval, there will be no project.
When the project is approved, the project proposal becomes the foundation for the project plan.
6 Types of project proposals
There are several types of project proposals. Choosing the right one depends on:
- The type of project you are proposing, and
- The audience it is intended for.
Let’s describe them briefly.
Type #1: Solicited project proposals
These proposals are sent as a response to a request for proposal (RFP).
For instance, some sponsors have a problem and need a project to solve that problem. So, they write an RFP.
In it, they describe the type of work needed to be done, give some instructions, and include the deadline. Then they send it to several organizations, and each of them writes a project proposal according to the guidelines from the RFP.
Solicited project proposals should be even more persuasive and detailed than other types of proposals since you are competing against others.
Type #2: Unsolicited project proposals
In this case, you have an idea for the solution to a problem, but you need some sponsor to fund your project. Thus, you write an unsolicited project proposal and send it to prospective investors, clients, or sponsors.
In this case, there is no RFP — no one has asked for your proposal. Thus, there will be no other companies that you are competing against.
Nevertheless, your proposal has to be persuasive as you don’t know whether the potential investors really need what you are offering them.
Type #3: Informal project proposals
These are proposals written as a response to a client’s request. However, this is an informal request, which means there is no RFP.
Since there isn’t an official request, there are no strict rules to adhere to. You will have to do a lot of research since there are no guidelines as to what the project should look like.
Type #4: Renewal project proposals
These proposals are usually sent to existing clients in order to persuade them to continue working with you even after the project finishes.
In this proposal, the aim is to highlight good results from the past that you have produced for that client. Also, you should make them believe that future results will be even better.
These proposals can also be sent to former clients. This way, you can remind them of your successful cooperaton and try to convince them to work with you again.
Type #5: Continuation project proposal
These proposals are the easiest to write since here, you don’t have to persuade anyone.
It is written after the project has been approved.
In this proposal, the project or a new phase of it is about to begin, and you want to inform the stakeholders of that.
You don’t have to invest much work into writing this proposal. Its purpose is not to win over a new client, but to provide some information about the project status.
Type #6: Supplemental project proposals
Just like the continuation proposal, this proposal is also sent to stakeholders you are already working on a project with.
Still, it needs to be persuasive as the aim is to get additional resources from the stakeholders.
You write this proposal to ask for more resources when the budget you’ve originally requested for a project is not enough.
6 Steps to write a project proposal
In order for your project to be approved and receive the budget it needs, you need to write a detailed project proposal.
It should contain all the information necessary to give a clear picture of every aspect of the project.
These are the 6 steps you should follow when writing a proposal:
- Write the executive summary.
- Describe the project background.
- Present a solution.
- State the project deliverables.
- Request the necessary resources.
- Write the conclusion.
Step #1: Write the executive summary
This is a relatively short part of the proposal where you give the potential investors and stakeholders the most important information about the project.
The aim of this section is to persuade the reader to continue reading. It should announce what’s coming and try to capture the reader’s attention.
This short summary should do the following:
- Introduce the problem the project should solve,
- Explain the impact it will have,
- Mention the resources that the project requires,
- State the timeline for project completion,
- Announce the team members who will work on it, etc.
You don’t have to talk about these points in detail since you will expand on them later in the proposal.
Step #2: Describe the project background
In this section, you should explain the problem and highlight the importance of finding a solution to it.
You can use statistics and important metrics to make your point clear.
Also, you can reference some past projects related to the same problem. By doing that, you should show that the project you are proposing will solve the problem more successfully.
In this section, you should:
- Explain the problem the project is based on,
- State what you already know about that problem,
- Mention some previous research related to the problem, and
- Explain why the previous solution was not successful.
This section should not be too long — one page is enough.
Step #3: Present a solution
Next, you should expand on the problem and present a solution to it. This is the part of the proposal where you should go into detail.
The points you should cover in this section are:
- The vision statement you have for the project,
- The schedule for your project and important milestones,
- Roles and responsibilities of each project team member, etc.
Step #4: State the project deliverables
This is the most important part of the project proposal, at least for stakeholders.
Here, you should present the project deliverables — the final products of the project. You should describe these deliverables thoroughly and in detail. This way, stakeholders will be able to visualize them and get a clear picture of the final results.
In this part of the proposal, cover these points:
- The final objective of the project,
- The project timeline,
- Potential risks and risk management strategies,
- S.M.A.R.T. goals and how they relate to the deliverables, etc.
Step #5: Request the necessary resources
This is the part where you talk about the budget.
You should state the resources that you need and describe how you are planning to use them.
First, you should mention the overall sum you need for the entire life cycle of the project. Then, you should list the amounts that you would allocate to the following:
- Salaries, etc.
Step #6: Write the conclusion
This is the part where you should give a final summary of everything mentioned above.
Here, you have a chance to highlight the importance of your project for the solution of the problem in question.
Bear in mind that you should sound confident here because this is your last chance to win over your reader.
Try to include some visual elements, such as reports, charts, tables, etc. This will make your proposal seem more realistic and your project sound more important.
Be persuasive and leave an impression!
Remember — your success doesn’t depend on the number, but on the choice of words you use.
5 Tips for writing an effective project proposal
The aim of your project proposal is to get project approval.
Of course, decision-makers are the ones who have the final word here.
However, you are not totally helpless. If you write an effective project proposal and present the project in a good light, you can improve your chances of success.
Here is some advice on how to write a project proposal that could be a game-changer.
Tip # 1: Write for a particular audience
Always bear in mind who the readers of your proposal will be.
In that sense, you should choose the right language so as to get your message across.
This means that you have to adjust the tone and the terms you use to your target readers. Pick out the words they understand. Otherwise, they may misunderstand you and miss the point of the proposal.
You should sound convincing from the beginning and grab the reader’s attention.
Tip #2: Be persuasive
Don’t forget that you are trying to sell your idea. In order to do that, you have to present it as best as you can.
You should make your reader believe that the project you are presenting is exactly what they need at that moment.
Try to let the reader know about your work experience. Also, inform them about your qualifications and those of your team members. That way, you can build their trust in the project and get their approval.
Tip #3: Use facts
Decision-makers are not interested in your opinion. They want some concrete evidence of the potential effectiveness of the project.
Therefore, you should include various charts, graphs, statistics, user cases, and the like. This way, your project will look less abstract and will be easy to visualize.
Tip #5: Keep it simple
It is important that you make your proposal easy to read and understand.
In order to achieve this, you should pay attention to its sentence structure. Sentences should be short, but to the point.
The terms you use should be easy to understand. Refrain from using ambiguous words.
Also, pay attention to the format of your proposal. It should be such that it enables the reader to follow the text with ease.
And, refrain from including the tiniest details of the project. Don’t make it too complex or else the reader will lose track of the context.
Be aware of the fact that decision-makers usually don’t have much time to spend reading each and every detail of your proposal. So, use your words smartly and don’t waste a single one.
Tip #6: Proofread your proposal
Before you submit your proposal, make sure that all the spelling and grammar errors are removed. A proposal full of such errors may give you and your project ideas a bad reputation.
If you are not sure how to revise your proposal yourself, you can always hire a professional editor. Don’t forget that sometimes the form is equally important as the content.
Key elements of a project proposal (+ a template)
Remember — a project proposal should leave your best impression. In order to achieve that, it should look good as much as it should sound good.
Therefore, if you are not sure how to visually present your proposal, the safest way is to use ready-made templates. This way, you will be sure that your proposal looks attractive and modern.
Project proposal example (+ template)
Here is an example of what your project proposal should look like:
The first page of your project proposal should contain some basic information, such as:
- Project name,
- Job location,
- Start date,
- End date,
- Project leader,
- Contact name,
- Phone number, etc.
This section should be presented clearly and concisely, providing only the information required. It should be no longer than one page.
This is an informative part of the proposal. The descriptive section comes after it.
The second part of the proposal should look like this:
This is the section where you should put to practice the art of persuasion.
In it, you should be detailed and descriptive.
You should describe the project in detail, answering these questions:
- What is the project about?
- What should be the desired outcome?
- What action does the project require?
- What benefits should it bring?
- What is the schedule of the project?
- What should the budget of the project be?
Bear in mind that the content and the tone you use should differ depending on the type of proposal and the target audience.
🔽 Download this project proposal template.
Project management software for project proposals
A useful form of help when it comes to visual representation of your project ideas could be project management software.
Here is how you can present your project using Plaky.
You can add various pieces of information about the project, such as:
- The project timeline,
- Description of the project,
- The start/end date,
- The priority of tasks,
- Team members assigned to each task, etc.
A graphic representation will help decision-makers better understand every aspect of the project.
Once your project is approved, you can start working on it.
You can use Plaky for various aspects of managing your project. It offers many options project managers need for different types of projects.
Conclusion: A good project proposal is crucial for the realization of your project ideas
The goal of a project proposal is to get project approval from stakeholders.
In order for your project to be approved, there are several points you should take into consideration when writing a proposal.
It is important to clearly present your ideas. Thus, you have to be sure of your project’s benefits for the solution of a particular problem.
Then, you should be persuasive. But, be careful not to come across as too pushy since it can repel your sponsors instead of attracting them.
What you should also have in mind when writing a proposal is your audience. Thus, make sure that your language is easy to understand and that it clearly communicates your points.
You should also pay attention to how you present your ideas. The safest way is to follow the steps we talked about in this article, so that you can be sure that you included all the important elements a proposal should contain.
Additionally, you should use the tips we mentioned above in order to make your proposal more attractive and increase your chances of success.
✉️ We’ve given you some guidelines for writing a good project proposal. If you know other tips and tricks that we haven’t mentioned here, feel free to share them at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may include them in this or in some future post. Also, if you liked this post and found it useful, share it with someone who would also benefit from it!