No matter the size of the business, a successful services firm depends on successful project proposals. While no two business-client relationships are the same, there are certain elements that will improve the chances of any project proposal being approved. Including these elements in your proposals will give you greater confidence in your client relationships and enable you to accurately plan resources for future projects.
Determine Your Project Proposal Type
There are six different types of proposals, each with their own style and rationale for use.
- Formally Solicited - Response to an official Request for Proposal (RFP) document.
- Informally Solicited - Proposes a project’s viability without needing an RFP.
- Unsolicited - Presents a new project without a client expecting to receive one.
- Continuation - Updates or reminds a client about an ongoing approved project.
- Renewal - Proves that a terminated project should begin again and given more resources.
- Supplemental - Requests additional resources to complete a project beyond its original proposal, including those affected by scope creep.
It is important that you define which type is right before you begin creating your proposal, as this will determine how you discuss the following elements and implement your project management strategy.
Be Clear in Your Project Objectives
Your proposal should clearly define how it benefits the client with exact objectives covered in detail. This includes not only what you will be doing and how you will be doing it, but why you should execute this project. For example, many marketing firms will pitch a website revamp to a client, but will have no other reason than to provide them with something that looks modern. Having a modern website should not be the objective. Having a fully-functioning website that ranks well in search engines and engages visitors is the real objective. Making sure that client benefits are the primary reason for the project drives a successful proposal and an effective project.
Break Down Tasks and Estimates
It’s not enough to discuss what you plan on doing during your project, you will need to break down how you will do it. A section of your project proposal should be dedicated to project methodology, which will include your overall approach, team organization, task schedule, estimation of hours, and resource allocation. Consider including a gantt chart, which will outline how these tasks are executed over the course of an understandable timeline. The easier it is for clients to know how you will deliver on what you promise with a project, the more likely it is that they will buy into your proposal.
Outline Your Risk Mitigation Plans
Every client will consider the risks associated with a proposed project, even if they have a long history of success with your company. Your project proposal should not only outline what these risks may be, but determine a risk management plan that will prevent or mitigate these risks if they occur during the project’s execution. Either you or your client will think of such risks eventually, so discussing them up front and knowing how to manage them will improve your client’s confidence in both you and the project.
Ensure Your Project Deliverables are Realistic
What will the client receive when the project is complete? Your proposal will need to detail every product, piece of information, and report supplied to the client during and after the project. While it may seem like the bigger and more exciting the deliverables, the more likely it will be that a client will approve the project, proposals need to be realistic. The deliverables for a project must be achievable for client satisfaction and each will require an associated delivery date. These dates should be based on an accurate gantt chart and appropriate for the resources that will be allocated.
These elements combine to create a project proposal that has clear and understandable value, increasing the likelihood of client approval.
Learn more about ensuring the success of your projects in Project Management SOS.