An outstanding project proposal is incredibly powerful. A top-notch proposal can grab the attention of key decision-makers and win them over in a matter of minutes.
But how do you craft the perfect project proposal? And what makes a project proposal outstanding? Knowing where to start and what elements to include is critical to your success. Below are the answers to these questions along with the secret to mastering the art of proposal writing.
What are the qualities of a stellar project proposal?
Before diving into the steps of proposal writing, it is helpful to understand what makes a project proposal truly great. In a nutshell, your proposal should be succinct, easy to follow, and captivating. Here are the four qualities of a stellar project proposal:
- Clear: A great proposal is structured, well organized, and written with language that is clear and understandable.
- Captivating: An outstanding project proposal grabs the audience’s attention right away, making them want to learn more about your solution.
- Concise: Length does not correlate with success when writing proposals. Your audience members are busy, so be as succinct as possible.
- Convincing: A winning project proposal convinces decision-makers that the project will deliver value and help them achieve their business goals.
What steps should you follow when preparing your project proposal?
No two project proposals should look exactly alike. They should each reflect the unique needs of the organization they are designed to help. But while the details, timelines, and costs will differ, most proposals include a core collection of points. The process of organizing these points is outlined below in seven simple steps.
Step One: Outline the project details
The first step is a simple list of the basic details of your project. This identifying information is often listed on the front page of the project proposal. Key pieces of information to reference include the following:
- Your name
- Your title
- The name of your organization
- The name of the organization for which the proposal is prepared
- Project proposal date
- Key project contacts
Step Two: Prepare an executive summary
“Oftentimes, executive summaries are the only place decision-makers will go to determine if action is warranted on a particular action or idea. Remember, the people who are reading the summary often do not have much time, so your executive summary must grab their attention and entice them to read through the larger, more in-depth documentation.” – Rasmussen College Library and Learning Services
Your executive summary is more than just a succinct overview of your project proposal. It is the first thing your audience may see. And in some cases, it may be the only part of your proposal your audience sees. Today’s decision-makers are busier than ever, and some may only look at your executive summary. So make sure you prepare a short, but enticing summary that achieves the following:
- Outlines the problem or reason your project is needed
- Provides the course of action that will solve the problem (your project)
- Highlights the return on investment the project will produce
Step Three: Provide a short and enticing introduction
Aside from your executive summary, your introduction is the second most important section of your proposal. (Hopefully!) most of your audience is ready to learn more about your project and the purpose of your introduction is to keep them interested in your project.
One of the best ways to do this is to lead with an eye-opening statistic that is relevant to the reader. For example, if you are proposing a new and more efficient CRM, you may start by stating the total number of work hours lost due to technical problems with the existing CRM. Then, translate these hours lost into dollars lost to keep the audience interested in your proposed solution.
Step Four: Offer a timetable with milestones
Your audience will want to know how long it will take to execute your project. It’s critical to include a proposed timeline that features some key project milestones and when they may occur. This helps your audience visualize how the project will unfold and when they will begin to see results.
Step Five: Provide a cost estimate
A detailed cost summary is an essential part of any good project proposal. Trying to secure buy-in for a project without outlining anticipated costs is a surefire way for your proposal to be cast aside by executives and stakeholders. Here are some common areas to cover when outlining costs:
- General billing expenses: Note whether the project can be completed for a flat fee or if fees will be based on the time and materials invested.
- Travel expenses: Provide estimated costs for fuel, car rental, hotel accommodations, airfare, entertainment, and meals.
- Project supplies: If your project requires dedicated supplies, make sure to list them and provide approximate costs.
Step Six: Overcome anticipated risks and objections
There are risks associated with virtually any type of professional service project. It’s up to you as the project manager to anticipate these risks, as well as any potential objections. Then provide points in your proposal to make sure they do not derail your efforts.
Step Seven: Conclude with a call to action
The greatest project proposal in the world becomes worthless without a clear call to action. Your proposal should end with a brief but compelling conclusion that moves your audience to invest in your proposed initiative. Whether you want them to commit to a complimentary trial or remit a deposit, be sure to ask for their approval so you can get the ball rolling right away.
What is the secret to writing a bulletproof project proposal?
Creating a great project proposal requires time and effort. But once you create a good template for your proposals, you can re-use it over and over again. You will soon find that you can crank out proposals in a fraction of the time it took you to prepare your first one. You can choose to manually paste data into your template or automate the process by pulling data from your CRM and project management system.
Finding the right project management software that can create project proposals by automatically inserting costs and project details into a template is the secret to success. With a great software platform boosting your efficiency, you can devote more time to higher-value activities and maximize your productivity.
To discover how you can save time and money by automating your project proposals, contact the project management software experts at Easy Projects. Scheduling a complimentary consultation or requesting a product tour only takes a few minutes, and you will soon be on your way to becoming your organization’s leading expert in project proposal design. We look forward to becoming your trusted resource for all of your upcoming projects!