A project proposal outline serves many purposes. It’s a common document that project managers may be asked to create to state the case for a project and give stakeholders an idea of what they will be getting involved in. Knowing how to create a project proposal successfully will also allow a PM to champion the projects they believe in by getting people on board.
There are different kinds of project proposal outlines that share the same basic structure but may have a different focus or purpose, these include:
- Formally solicited: A response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) document
- Informally solicited: A project proposal outline not bound by the requirements of an RFP
- Unsolicited: An unrequested proposal that you want to make the case for
- Supplemental: Especially when a project starts exceeding its scope, this is to provide resources for extra requirements
- Continuation: A proposal for a project’s resourcing to continue
- Renewal: When proposing to refund or continue a project that is coming to the end of its timeline
How to Create a Project Proposal
Despite the different types of proposal, the core concept of writing a quality and effective project proposal outline is the same. To be persuasive, the proposal will have to state the business case for the project, how the result will be achieved within the specified actions and why it is the most appropriate use of the organization’s resources.
Here are some ways to make that happen:
- Know your audience
How you frame your project proposal outline is key to its success. This means that focusing on the benefits it will bring or how it will happen can change based on who you’re aiming it at. It might be the case that the CEO is adventurous and wants to hear about breaking into new markets, but the board members are all about the financials and want to know about how it will deliver savings or increase sales. Tailoring your core executive summary can often be a balancing act between ticking different people’s boxes.
- Lay out the problem you are aiming to solve
To have a reason for the project to go ahead there must be a gap in what the organization is doing. This could be a lack of growth, poor online presence, an inability to scale up in line with demand or a need to improve the project management software being used. It’s necessary to explain this problem and how your project will solve it.
- Outline the short, medium and long-term benefits
Every company has different focus on its goals and where it wants to be. Some are happy with a high, short-term frenzy of activity as they don’t plan to stick around while others want to create something blue-chip. The project proposal should, at the least, estimate how it will deliver returns over different time-periods.
- Support your case with figures and precedent
By the fact that you’re presenting the project proposal outline it will be clear that you are in favor of it, which makes your opinion subjective. That’s why it’s important to bring in outside experts or data that support your assumptions on what your project can achieve.
- Be clear and to the point
Stakeholders generally don’t like wasting time so consider your project proposal like an elevator pitch. You should aim to make all the main points as clear and concise as possible, detailing how the project will happen, what resources it will need and how it will benefit the organization. More explanatory information can be included after that.