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Project Proposal Writing: How To Write A Winning Project Proposal

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>>Hi. I’m Devon Dean, content director here at ProjectManager.com. Today I’m going to

teach you how to help sell your project using a project proposal. A key thing to remember

is that people buy from people. Don’t expect the project proposal document that you put

together to be taken up by the decision makers in an organization in isolation of any communication

you’ve had with them and award funding and resources and mindshare to that project. It’s

important to remember this because you can write the best project proposal document but

without that people interaction you have a slim to no chance of getting your project

funded.

While you’re preparing the project proposal document it’s really important for you,

your project sponsors and the champions of your project to go out there and actively

lobby the decision makers of your organization about your project. Use those lobbying sessions

and those one on one meetings to actually refine and hone your understanding of what

the problems are in your organization and the benefits that your project can actually

realize, that strike a chord with those decision makers. In developing your project proposal

document I highly recommend in tandem going out there and actively seeking the feedback

of those decision makers so that feedback help you refine and forge the sales pitch

you put together in your proposal document.

Your decision makers are going to make the decision whether to thrill or kill that project

within the first five minutes of picking up your project proposal document so it’s really,

really critical that you make a big impact right at the start of that project proposal

document. The way you do that is in stating that problem statement. You really need to

paint a bleak picture of your organization that shows or depicts the problems that you’re

having in the organization which could be overcome had your project been in production

when those problems occurred. Highlight some specific examples of where opportunities were

missed or where risk or costs were incurred that your project could have prevented or

could have gained access to in terms of opportunities if your project had delivered by the time

of that event.

Efficiency gains or general skills uplift are not the messages you want to communicate

in terms of looking for those problem benefits. By saying that Sally works 50 hours a week

and your project is going to solve that problem is really not going to strike a chord for

those decision makers. Look for those specific examples of where your company missed an opportunity

or incurred costs because your project wasn’t in place. Put those in your problem statement.

Now the vision statement is a section that needs to tie your project to the company’s

long range strategy and vision and long range goals. Without tying your project in to your

organizational strategy and vision you run the risk of having your project being looked

upon as a rogue project: it’s out there in the distance, it really doesn’t fit with

what we’re doing so you run a risk of not having your project being funded because of

that reason. You need to tie your project into your company’s organizational strategies

and vision.

Benefits further expand upon the vision that your project will have, that you paint the

picture of that vision. You’re going into a bit more specific details on what are the

things your project will deliver, what new capabilities or what costs you’re going

to avoid by having the project deliverables in place. Be very specific about the benefits

and make sure they’re things that are measurable.

The deliverables section further goes into another level of decomposition about what

your project is going to deliver. It talks about the artefacts which your projects will

deliver and how those will be delivered in terms of what the users can expect. A deliverable

might be, for example, for a call center project you’re delivering new computer telephony

integration. That would be a deliverable when that call center has that equipment.

Success criteria are very important to outline in that project proposal. You need to be able

to have smart success criteria which mean it’s specific, measurable, achievable, realistic

and time bound. These success criteria, once they’re met, give the project owners, the

decision makers and the stakeholders 100% confidence that your project has achieved

success. It’s important that you list out those criteria which everyone is looking at

your project to deliver.

The next section is talking about how your project is going to achieve the deliverables

and success criteria and benefits. In here is where your deadlines are listed, where

the project plan comes together and what the approach to delivery might be for your project.

Are you going to use external vendors? Are you going to use internal staff? Are you going

to use an agile approach to delivering that project or are you going to use a more traditional

waterfall method to enable your project to deliver on its deliverables?

Lastly, of course, the cost and the budget. Here’s where you pull it together and you

show the funding plan for that project and how it’s going to achieve its deadlines

against those deliverables and for the dollar value.

Now if you find in the first section that you’re getting into quite a lot of detail

that runs past, let’s say, two pages I think it’s really important to take the time and

consolidate all the high points from these into an executive summary for that document.

Put the high level problem, visions and benefits in that exec summary. As I mentioned before,

decision makers will take about five minutes looking at your proposal to make sure that

it’s something they’re going to fund or decide that they’re not going to fund it

in this year. Ensuring those messages are concise is really critical and by putting

these elements into executive summary if you find them going long is a really important

way for you to quickly communicate those ideas.

It’s important to remember the flow of the document in the proposal. You need it to flow

like a fiction book. You need to tell a story and paint a picture and leave no stone unturned

for your decision makers to ponder. Everything needs to flow from the start of the problem

down to the cost and benefits in terms of the key themes of your project need to be

expounded upon, need to be mentioned at the start and then further drilled down upon throughout

the rest of your project proposal. If you have items that you’re introducing in your

deliverables, for example, that don’t fit in with solving the problems you’ve identified

up here or fit in with the benefits that you’re going to realize your decision makers will

look at that and it will cause them to think a little bit more about your proposal in terms

of does this proposal really communicate in a tight way the objectives that it’s going

to achieve for the organization. It needs to flow. All the items here need to mesh with

one another and not introduce any new topics or any new items as you go along in the project

document.

Your project proposal is one key way for you to communicate your project’s vision and

benefits to the organization but a project proposal in itself is not going to sell your

project and get it funded and resourced. Only you can do that. Only your champions and your

sponsor can do that. Like I said in the start, the proposal will help you sell your project

and get it funded and resourced but really you need to be there actively lobbying for

that project and getting it off the ground.

For more project management tips and tricks and to try out our software come join us at

ProjectManager.com.