How to write a proposal for a project (plus definition)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Understanding how to write a project proposal gives you the tools to effectively communicate why you think your project has merit to employers, clients and stakeholders. Project proposals are useful across all industries to outline ideas and concepts geared towards improving a business. To effectively craft a project proposal, there are some defined steps that you can take to help guide you towards a successful proposal. In this article, we outline what a proposal for project is, how to write a project proposal and discuss the various types of proposal projects.

How to write a proposal for a project

To be able to effectively write a proposal for a project, take the time to understand your project as an audience. Spending time researching the intricacies of your project, and learning how to best show this to your audience may give you the best opportunity to make a compelling case for your project. Once you're comfortable with what you want to say and how you want to say it, you can start drafting the project proposal. To do this, you can break down the project into the following steps:

1. Executive summary

The executive summary is an introduction that provides a brief overview of the project. You may attempt to captivate your audience with a strong executive summary that highlights the importance of your project and the benefits that it can bring. Some things to outline in your executive summary include:

  • the issue that your project is addressing

  • the way that your project intends to address the issue

  • the overall outcome of the project

An executive summary is concise, but it can vary in length depending on the complexity of your project. In some cases, a paragraph may be enough to outline your executive summary. In other instances, it may take longer to discuss all of the talking points of a complex project. The key is to make a compelling case that doesn't go into too many fine details during the executive summary.

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2. Statement of need

This section outlines why your project should go ahead. It might include discussing a certain problem that your project is able to address. Try to include the following details with your statement of need:

  • outline a historical problem in the company

  • determine how the project can resolve the problem

  • outline details about your project

This part of your proposal shouldn't dwell on the intricacies of your project just yet. Try to keep the details to a minimum and provide an overview of the concepts.

3. Methodology and solutions

This part of the proposal is meant to outline the more intricate details of the project. This might include the overall solution to the problem that your project addresses and the methodology used to execute your plans. Try to include the following information:

  • the overall goal for the project

  • the outcomes of the project

  • the general timeline of the project

  • the hierarchy of the project and project leaders

At this stage, it might be a good idea to include additional sections for more advanced or complicated aspects of the project, such as known risks. This gives you a platform to address any concerns with employers or stakeholders and outline how you intend to judge the success of the project. Expect this part to take up most of your time when drafting a project proposal.

4. Financials

It's important that you outline the budget and financials of your project and the overall financial impact of your completed project. Take the time to research all of the possible financial constraints that your project may be aware of to be successful. Providing dependable figures to investors and employers ensures that your project won't go over budget.

5. Supplementary documents

To justify your project, it's important that you have sufficient documentation to outline the feasibility of what you're suggesting. Some of the supplementary documents you might like to use include:

  • the maps and topography of the area where the project is taking place

  • the contact details of relevant individuals with authorisation power on the project

  • the financial statements, annual reports and projections for the company

  • the promotional materials, leaflets or white papers related to the project

  • the studies, financial outlines and other reports pertaining to the project

  • the letters or testimonials that outline support for the project

6. Summary

Your summary outlines the main talking points of your project proposal and reinforces all of the things that you have talked about. You can include the most important details about the project here. Doing so can increase your rate of receiving approval for your project.

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What is a proposal for a project?

A proposal for a project outlines the various objectives and goals that you aim to accomplish during the course of a project. It's meant to be a compelling document that shows clients, employers and stakeholders why going ahead with this project is beneficial. A well-written project proposal is essential as it conveys professionalism and reinforces the intended success of a project. There are many uses for project proposals, but some of the most common reasons to use a proposal for a project include:

  • securing funding for investment

  • winning over clients

  • renewing contracts with customers

  • convincing superiors to undertake a new concept, idea or initiative in the workplace

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What are the benefits of a good project proposal?

There are many benefits to a good project proposal for you, your employer and your client including:

  • It improves business: Whether it's streamlining how a company operates or bringing in a profitable new department, a good project proposal helps drive innovation and improve a business.

  • It keeps projects focused: A good project proposal outlines all of the necessary tasks in an easy to follow way. This can become a useful reference guide to ensure that the project has focus and meets deadlines as intended.

  • It catches risks early: Project proposals can help identify future risks or potential avenues for success for a company and showing a proposed project to a new audience can highlight any risks of issues that the writer did not think of. Talking about these risks at an early stage of the project helps businesses overcome these challenges.

  • It helps with planning: A well-defined project proposal can facilitate planning ahead for a business or client. Project proposals can help with earmarking finances and other resources to ensure the project is successful.

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Different types of project proposal

A project proposal can help achieve a variety of different goals, so they're usually unique with their own requirements. With that said, there are a number of commonly used project proposal types. Solicited, unsolicited and informal proposals tend to be the longest type of proposal as they cover information relating to a brand new project. Renewals, supplementals and continuations are additional proposals, so they're shorter than other project proposals. Below, we have included a list of the most common project proposals that you may write:

  • Solicited: A solicited project proposal is one that a client or company has specifically requested. It's usually competing alongside other proposals that are vying for the project, so it's important to ensure it's compelling and that you adhere to any style guide included in the proposal process.

  • Unsolicited: These project proposals aren't requested, but the hope is that the recipient might find it beneficial. It's critical that you ensure that these are persuasive because the recipient hasn't made first contact with you, so there's no way to know if they have any interest in what you're proposing.

  • Renewal: A renewal proposal is a way to encourage an existing customer and compel them to renew their contract with your business. It highlights past accomplishments and future benefits.

  • Continuation: Continuation proposals are reminders for investors regarding a specific project. It's a nudge proposal that offers information in a factual, rather than compelling, way.

  • Supplemental: Supplemental proposals are another reminder for investors, but is generally useful when asking for additional resources for a project. It's compelling and encourages investors to put in more resources to a project.

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