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How to Write an Effective Project Proposal
chillibreeze writer — Shilpa Kanodia
A well-written proposal can go a long way in helping the service provider win the project. Typically, a proposal should address the client’s business needs and it must seek to provide a solution to the problem.
It must demonstrate that you, as a service provider, are in sync with the client’s problem. The proposal should be persuasive and meticulously written. It should not sound frivolous, nor should it read like a marketing pamphlet.
This article on how to write a project proposal has been written in the context of a software project. It assumes that the client has already requested the service provider to send a proposal.
Now, how does one go about writing a project proposal? It is always a good idea to do some amount of homework.
Typical Elements of a proposal
A winning proposal must not only be impeccable (in terms of solution, language and grammar), but it must also contain matter which reflects thoroughness.
1. Executive summary: This section should provide a summary of the proposal document. The summary is targeted at the decision maker, who is usually the top executive. Therefore, it must be crisp and avoid getting into the nitty-gritties.
The executive summary can include:
2. Scope of work and system functionality: In this section, one defines in reasonable detail, the scope and the functionality of the project. This is a very important section that forms the main body of the proposal.
3. Technical Approach: This section provides the details of the technical considerations applied by the service provider towards an efficient and effective solution for this project. It details the process architecture, hardware and software environments, the software components and other related details (with illustrative diagrams wherever relevant). The technical aspects must devise a solution keeping in mind the needs of the client.
4. Project management and execution approach: This section describes the project life-cycle management approach, a detailed project plan, the team model and other aspects related to project management. Generally, every company has standard procedures and templates for project management, but they need to be customized for each project.
5. Pricing and assumptions: This section quotes the price of the service being offered by the service provider. The quote needs to be substantiated with the methodology used to do the pricing. Usually, pricing to the customer is either value-based or cost-plus profit.
If the pricing is value based:
If the pricing is cost-plus:
This section is also used to detail the contractual terms and conditions that go with the proposal. Duration of the validity of the proposal, situations that will require revision in pricing and schedules, recourse in case of breach of the contract, arbitration clause, etc. are important elements of the terms and conditions, and all of these need to be mentioned in clear terms.
6. Appendices: In this section, you can give any supplementary information that will help customers get a better understanding of the company, solution and service. One can mention about the company, strategic alliances, project management and delivery model, software development process, quality approach, sample templates etc.
A smartly written project proposal will lead the reader to the key aspects highlighted in the proposal that make it unique. It also paves the way for follow-on discussions/actions. It leaves behind a positive perception about the service provider’s ability to meet the client’s desired business objectives.
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