You’ve had several meetings, exchanged elaborate emails, and held thorough discussions on project details; yet, the prospective client wants you to send them the official project proposal anyway?
Writing a project proposal might seem like unnecessary paperwork, and it’s just putting pen on paper – the client has already agreed with the plan and the price, and all you need is for them to sign the contract. It’s a done deal, right?
Well, not so much.
Project proposals are crucial for decision-makers to reach an objective, informed, and data-driven decision. In addition, a good project proposal helps the prospective client compare vendors, their fees, processes, and projected outcomes.
For you, as a company aiming to take on a new client, project proposals are essential for showcasing your expertise, attention to detail, and dedication to the client.
Of course, a vague and sloppy project proposal will dishearten even your most eager prospect. Therefore, in this article, we’re helping you avoid falling at the last hurdle and sharing the secrets of a project proposal clients can’t say no to.
On the other hand, there is always the option of hiring professionals from popular recruiting agencies. You can filter them by location, team size, pricing, and reviews to find the best partner for your business needs, and this will probably save a significant amount of time.
But, let’s dive into the secrets of a good project proposal.
What Is a Project Proposal?
A project proposal is a sales document that a business or an individual uses to describe a proposed project – its purpose, processes, and outcomes – and thus seek an agreement from another party.
Project proposals are common in business settings where vendors propose their services to prospective clients. However, a proposal is vital for receiving approval and funds for any project: community development, environmental, (non-)governmental, etc.
Regardless of its purpose, all project proposals illustrate the problem, activities you wish to implement, and the objectives you aim to attain.
Lastly, a project proposal’s purpose is to request funding from the addressed party.
Key Elements of a Project Proposal
The specific elements a project proposal entails differ depending on the project; yet, there are several key aspects of a good project proposal:
- Project background: What issue will the project address? If you’re writing a project proposal for a prospective client, highlight their business’s problems and challenges. If you seek funding for a community project, build a solid case based on evidence of growing concern and ways to alleviate it.
- Solutions: What are the intended outcomes of this project? If you’re writing a proposal for a company that seeks a web design solution, showcase why going custom with you is more beneficial than using a website builder.
- Project Scope: What are the specific project stages? Be informative and detailed, and fully describe each project phase’s actions, requirements, elements, and purposes. Specify how and why these particular stages help reach the project’s objectives.
- Timeline and Budget Estimates: What are the project’s financial and time requirements for completion? Consider unexpected circumstances that might halt the project procedures, and make sure to include valid finance predictions.
Project Proposal vs Project Plan vs Project Contract
You’re drowning in paperwork, juggling unique stakeholders’ requirements and projects at different development stages – not to mention associates unsure what document they need exactly.
To avoid confusion the next time your colleague asks for a project plan or when the client wants to read the contract before the initial meeting, here is some basic project terminology explained.
The first step is the project proposal, which aims to communicate how you plan to approach a project. On the other hand, a project contract is a formal agreement between two parties to complete a project. Thus, the contract comes after the client accepts the vendor’s proposal.
A project plan is a bit tricky. This document defines project objectives, defines tasks and identifies the resources, budgets and timelines for project completion.
So, is the project plan a part of the project proposal document? One could certainly argue that’s the case. However, a proposal is a sales document that discusses your cause, whereas a plan presents concrete facts.
Why does Project Proposal Matter?
If you’re still not convinced that a project proposal can seal the deal – or be a deal-breaker – think of any time you signed a contract.
In a more or less professional form, proposals are everywhere around us. For example, when taking a bank loan, choosing a TV cable provider, or opting for a house renovation company, you require a business proposal outlining both parties rights and responsibilities.
So, why wouldn’t business owners and company managers want to find more information when deciding on, let’s say, their website design vendor?
Project proposals matter – to you as a professional individual, to your colleagues who will participate in the project, and to prospects you wish to transform into clients.
Here are the reasons to buckle down for your next project proposal writing.
Establish Your Understanding of the Project
As we’ve previously said, a project proposal is a sales document that persuades the decision-maker you have the skills and expertise needed to complete the project.
Moreover, a proposal should set expectations in terms of budget and timeline and the overall delivery details and expected outcomes.
Whether a business or community project, writing a proposal requires a lot of research and planning; besides showing your competence and professionalism to the stakeholders, a quality proposal helps you develop the project from idea to reality.
Through the process of crafting the project proposal, you define, explain, prove, test, and share strategies and solutions.
A good proposal plans all your project details, map the goals and predicts risks and challenges. Thus, you have already laid down the groundwork, which makes the project execution much easier.
Help the Stakeholders Choose You
A project proposal allows decision-makers to compare vendors and reach data-driven conclusions.
Most project proposals that stakeholders receive from vendors hold information on prices, processes, and results.
Sometimes, the price or project details make or break gaining a project. Yet, more often, decision-makers opt for a vendor that presents an in-depth understanding of the client’s problems, detailed research of the circumstances, and elaborate illustrations of the project stages and outcomes.
In other words, you should cover all the bases when writing a project proposal. Chances are, the vendors will seek an innovative approach to addressing the issue and will be keener on partnering with a company that did their homework in advance.
Boost your chances by leveraging similar projects and clients you’ve had in the past.
Shape Your Company’s Methodology and Scope of Work
Is how you write project proposals inherited from older colleagues, who set the standard that perished years ago? Do your proposals align with the company’s current services, values, and employee expertise?
Instead of always reshaping the same proposal to every prospect, take the opportunity to redefine your company’s project approach, pricing, methodology, time frame, and deliverables.
A personalized project proposal won’t resonate only with your potential clients. Crafting a unique proposal will show your teammates you are aware of their roles in the project and help you strengthen your project-writing skills.
While creating a proposal, you will learn much more about your coworkers’ day-to-day processes. Gaining a deeper understanding of the company methodology opens the door for improving and modernizing your colleagues’ daily tasks.
Set Expectations on Both Sides
A project proposal is not a contractual agreement, meaning it’s legally binding and susceptible to changes. Still, a proposal sets expectations for the client-agency relationship.
Most of the details found in the project proposal will be entered into the contract once the project moves forward.
Your proposal should establish a mutual understanding of deliverables, timelines, and budget. In other words, you ought to be specific regarding the scope of work you provide, your fees, dues and commitments.
When writing a project proposal, being vague can cost you lots of nerves, time, and money if the client finds a contract loophole. Otherwise, swindling a client can seriously affect your reputation and future client onboarding.
Therefore, craft your project proposal as if you’re writing the finalized contract. Setting the right expectations is the foundation of a successful, effective, and long-term partnership.
To Wrap Up
Project proposals benefit your business across the board and help you better understand your company’s processes, clients’ needs, and market trends in general.
Moreover, the quality proposal requires significant research and planning, thus developing the foundation for future project strategies.
A well-developed proposal presents you as the perfect vendor for stakeholders that seek a reliable, experienced, and competent partner.
When you doubt how to craft a project proposal, put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. What would you like to hear if you were them? Have they already examined the solutions you offer? How innovative is your approach to the problem they wish to tackle?
Focus your proposal on detailing each step of the project phases, highlight their contributions to the final goal, and provide reliable data on how your solutions benefit their goals the most.
Harold Ader is a digital marketing specialist and freelance blogger from Manchester, In his spare time, you can find him in the garden or kitchen.