Ready to write a proposal but need a project proposal template to get you started? Look no further.
How to Write a Project Proposal
Now – there’s a list of actionable tips below. But to get started, there’s one concrete rule to writing a great project proposal: keep it simple. Your boss doesn’t want a 10 page PDF, or a detailed explanation of the micro-steps in your project. He or she needs to know:
- The logic – why the project is a priority
- The intended results – ideally, hard numbers.
- The supporting evidence – what’s behind your conclusion
This can all be summed up in one – two sentences – see more in the simple project proposal template below.
Simple Project Proposal Template
The introduction of your project proposal should be brief. Imagine it like an elevator pitch; you only have 15 seconds to get your message across. Try structuring it as if you were back in grade school, using IF, THEN, BECAUSE terminology.
For example, let’s imagine I want to convince my boss to rename our product.
IF we rename our product from Priority Matrix to “Best Project Management Desktop App” THEN we will receive more organic visibility BECAUSE this is a search term frequently used by people who intend to buy project management software.
Make sure the goals of this project align with your current company goals.
Even if you work in marketing, like me, if your company’s current #1 goal is to drive sales, you better formulate your project in such a way that it’s bringing in well-qualified leads.
I recommend including just ONE Goal in order to keep your project scope focused. Treat any sub-goals as milestones.
This is where you can estimate your budget, timeline, and more. Get the technical details from the appropriate in-house experts, or from your own past experience with similar projects. You don’t have to be exactly right, but you should be able to explain why you chose your numbers, and how you arrived at that conclusion.
Milestones are the marks you need to hit to measure success on the way to project completion. Think of milestones as metrics, rather than tasks. Show them off to stakeholders to prove that you’re making progress.
If your overall goal is to increase sales by 25%, a great milestone to aim for is a 10% increase. This tells you you’re on the right track.
Project Proposal – Project Management
Project managers make project proposals all the time – one of the best ways to streamline this process is to integrate your proposal with your project management tool. This way, as soon as you get the go-ahead, you can start delegating right away.
Using your project management tool to estimate timelines and resources is a great way to produce visuals for the proposal. Bonus points if your PM software has a gantt chart that you can print out to include in the proposal.
Here is what a product re-brand proposal might look like in a typical project management tool.
Get Your Project Proposal Approved
- Make an Estimation – estimate the best-and-worse-case scenario outcome of your project. If the worst-case scenario outcome of your project is still better than the status-quo, you shot at approval skyrockets.
- Use Emotive Language – now, don’t overdo it. But, most project proposals are dry and boring. If you can invoke a feeling of excitement in your stakeholder, you’re on your way to getting the stamp of approval.
- Support Your Decision – nobody trusts an idea that comes out of thin air. If you can support your logic with a case study that achieved great results, especially a competitor in your area, you’ll leave your decision-maker hungry to see your project succeed.
Check out these resources for more:
How to get Approval from Harvard Business Review
How to get Your Boss to Say “Yes” from Michael Hyatt
Project Proposal Tips
- Keep it Simple/Estimate – ain’t nobody got time for a proposal that’s 3+ pages long.
- Make a Hypothesis – don’t just talk about your plan. Provide an estimated outcome. And it better be positive.
- Include an Appendix – extra information belongs in an appendix.
- Outline the Budget – this will not only help your decision-maker come to a conclusion, but it will help keep you on track.
- Include Deadlines and set realistic expectations about when stakeholders should expect to see results.
- Tailor it to who you’re writing for – CEOs need different information than CFOs who need different information than CMOs. Keep this in mind while drafting a proposal.
Project Proposal Template Examples
Project Proposal Basics
The purpose of your project proposal is to present your idea to a client/stakeholder/decision-maker in order to explain the logical reasoning that is driving your project. The goal is to gain approval from the decision-maker. Therefore, keeping the proposal both informative and interesting is key.
When writing a proposal, don’t include the nitty-gritty details. Buckle down on these in the planning and execution phase. Don’t spend too much time on the small details, in the case that your proposal is rejected, that time is effectively wasted.
Certain organizations require that proposals meet specifications; depending on who will give the final approval of your project, make sure that you adhere to the rules and regulations laid out by that organization, group, or company.
Writing an effective project proposal is the first step toward earning project approval! Choose a project proposal template from above and get started – the sky is the limit.