>>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
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
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
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.
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