If you’re working on writing a project proposal for a potential client or customer, you may be wondering what—exactly—your project proposal should include. While your actual project proposal will depend on the type of project, there are several key sections that every project proposal should include.
5 Elements Every Project Proposal Should Include
If you’re submitting a project proposal from an RFP (request for proposal), chances are the RFP lists exactly what information should be included in the proposal. In those cases, it’s important not to deviate from the outline provided. An RFP is usually created by a company for one of three reasons, it is getting multiple project proposals and knows exactly what they’re looking for, it has stringent regulations on hiring contractors, or it requires a significant approval process to initiate work. Deviating from the provided outline in an RFP can sometimes mean immediate dismissal.
For all other proposals, however, there are certain elements that project proposals should always include:
1. Project Background
The project background is a persuasive element of your proposal. It reinforces the need for the project while introducing how you’ll be able to help attain those goals. This part of your project proposal should include information about why the project is being sought—for instance, problems, challenges, or opportunities that currently exist—and how the project can fulfill those needs.
2. Project Objectives
The objectives in a project proposal communicate the desired outcomes of the project, whether these outcomes are deliverables or results. This part of your project proposal serves not only as an acknowledgment that you fully understand the goals of the project, but also acts as a guide for your own project planning. Consider these objectives the targets that every stage of your project should be aiming toward achieving.
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3. Project Scope
The project scope includes details of what the project will entail. This is where you want to be especially specific, as this sets the direction for the project expectations that will be agreed upon when you write and sign the contract. The scope is usually one of the longer parts of a project proposal. It lets the client know what to expect as well as helps to establish you or your company as the right choice to complete the project. In the project scope, you should include:
- Key deliverables and what each entails
- Points of measurement or review
- Any known issues or risk and how they will be handled
- Project exclusions, if any need to be defined
- Assumptions and plans for how you will address uncertain information as it arises
- Any constraints that may affect the project
4. Plan, Timeline, & Budget
This is the part of the project proposal where you lay out exactly how the project described in the project scope will be completed. Take the time to do this section right, as it will define the proposed timeline and budget requirements for the project. It’s important to go into this section knowing what resources you have available, what their availability looks like, and their costs, as well as a projection for any materials required to complete the project.
Make sure to detail time for review and revisions, contingencies that impact budget, and other information that might affect the timeline, process, or budget, for a more accurate statement of expectations.
5. Next Steps
If the client decides to move forward with the project, what should the next steps be? This may include a final consultation call or meeting, drafting and approving a contract, having an onboarding call, setting a start date, and more. Make it easy for the client to move from saying “Yes, let’s do this” to initiating the project.
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