Project Proposal Writing: How To Write A Winning Project Proposal Using This Framework
Thursday, July 19th 2018
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Project Proposal Writing: How to Write a Project Proposal
By: Devon Dean
I’m going to teach you how to help sell your project using a project proposal.
People Buy From People.
The key thing to remember is that people buy from people. Don’t expect a project proposal that you put together to be taken up by the decision makers in your organization, in isolation of any communication you’ve had with them, and award funding and resources and mindshare to that project.
It’s important to remember this because you can write the best project proposal document, but without people interaction, you have slim to no chance of getting your project funded.
Whilst you are actually preparing the project proposal document, it’s really important for you, your project sponsors, and the champions of your project, to go out there and actively lobby the decision makers of the organization about your project.
Use those lobbying sessions and those one-on-one meetings to actually refine and hone your understanding of what the problems are in the organization. The benefits that your project can actually realize that strike a chord with those decision makers.
Developing Your Project Proposal
In developing your project proposal document, I highly recommend in tandem going out there and actively seeking the feedback of those decision makers. That feedback can help you refine and forge the sales pitch that you put together in your proposal document. Your decision makers are going to make the decision about whether to fund or kill the project within the first five minutes of picking up your project proposal document. It’s really, really critical that you make a big impact right at the start of that project proposal document.
The Proposal Must Define the Problems to be Solved
The way you do that is in stating that problem statement. You really need to paint a bleak picture for the organization, that shows or depicts the problems that the organization is having, which can be overcome had your project been in production when those problems occurred.
Highlight some specific examples of where opportunities were missed, or where risk or cost were incurred, that your project could have prevented or could have gained access to in terms of opportunities if your project had delivered by the time of that problem event.
Efficiency gains or general skills uplift are not the messages that you want to communicate in terms of looking for those problem benefits. By saying that Sally works 50 hours a week, and that your project is going to solve that problem is really not going to strike a chord in those decision makers. Look for those specific examples of where your company missed an opportunity or had incurred a cost because your project wasn’t in place. Put those into your problem statement.
The Proposal Must Define Long Range Goals with a Vision Statement
The vision statement is a section that needs to tie your project to the company’s long range strategy and vision, and long range goals. Without tying in your project into your organizational strategy and vision, you run the risk of having your project being looked upon as a rogue project.
It’s out there in the distance and really doesn’t fit with what the client is doing, so you run a risk of not having your project being funded for that reason. You need to tie your project into the company’s organizational strategies and long term vision and overall goals.
Define the Benefits Your Proposed Solutions Will Deliver
Go into more specific details on what benefits your project will deliver, what new capabilities or what cost you are going to avoid by having a project’s deliverables in place. Be very specific about the benefits and make sure the deliverables are measurable.
The Proposal Must Show What & How the Solutions Are Delivered
The deliverable section goes further into another level of decomposition about what your project’s going to deliver. It talks about the artifacts which your project will deliver and how those will be delivered, in terms of what the client can expect. A deliverable might be… as an example, for a call center project. You are delivering new computer telephony integration.
The Proposal Must Show How Success is Measured
Success criteria are very important to outline in the project proposal. You need to be able to have smart success criteria which means it’s specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. These success criteria, once they are met, give the project owners, the decision makers and the stakeholders 100% confidence that your project has achieved success. It’s important that you list out those criteria that everyone is looking for your project to deliver.
The Proposal Must Show Deadlines, the Plan & the Approach
The next sections talk about how your project is going to achieve the deliverables, success criteria and benefits. In here is where your deadlines are listed and where the project plan comes together. Are you going to use external vendors? Are you going to use internal staff? Are you going to use an agile approach to deliver that project or are you going to use a more traditional waterfall method to enable your project to deliver on its deliverables?
The Proposal Must Show Costs & Value Created by the Deliverables
The last proposal section consists of the project costs and budget. Here’s where you pull it all together. Where you show the funding plan for that project and how it’s going to achieve its deadlines against those deliverables and for the dollar value.
Keep the Proposal Short & Concise
If you find that you are getting into a lot of detail that runs past let’s say two pages, I think it’s really important to take the time and consolidate all the main project goals from the proposal sections into an executive summary.
Put the high-level problem visions and benefits in a executive summary and make it one of the first pages in your proposal. Decision makers will take time to look at your executive summary to make sure that it’s something that they’re going to fund or decide that no, they are not going to fund it this year. Ensuring that the main project problems and your solution in an executive summary is really critical.
Ensure the Proposal Has Excellent Reader Flow
It’s important to remember the reader flow of the proposal. You need it to flow like a fiction book, at a simplified reading level. You need to tell a story and paint a picture and leave no stone unturned for your decision makers to ponder.
Everything needs to flow from the start of the problem down to the cost and benefits. In terms of your key themes, your project needs to be expounded upon, needs to be mentioned at the start and then further drill down throughout the rest of your project proposal.
For example, if you have items that you are introducing in your deliverables that don’t fit in with solving the problems that you have identified or fit in with the benefits that you’re going to realize, your decision makers will look at that and it will cause them to think a little bit more about your proposal in terms of does this proposal really in a tight way communicate the objectives it’s going to achieve for the organization.
How to Get the Proposal Accepted and Funded
Your project proposal is one key way for you to communicate your project’s vision and benefits to the organization. But a project proposal in itself is not going to sell your project and get it funded and resourced. Only you can do that.
As mentioned in the start, the proposal will help you sell your project and get it funded, but really you need to be out there actively lobbying for that project to get it off the ground.