The art of writing a project proposal
Feb 14, 2019 Vasil Zidrovski3 min read
There are two popular opinions about project proposals
- It's easy to write one
- It's difficult to write one
While there's people that spend two minutes on a proposal thinking it's easy to do, and while there's the other ones spending hours overthinking it, there's a small group of people that are winning.
Request for proposal
But first things first, in order to send a proposal, you need a request for proposal.
A request for proposal (RFP) is a document that solicits proposal, often made through a bidding process, by an agency or company interested in procurement of a commodity, service, or valuable asset, to potential suppliers to submit business proposals. - Wikipedia
You have to read the request for proposal very carefully and learn about the potential client and their problem, and based on this, you'll create the proposal. Spend as much time as you need to understand it, people often don't give the required amount of attention and send a proposal faster, omitting critical details. You'll win over these people.
Start with something you think it's most important about you and at the same time relevant to the project you are applying to, whether it is a previous project you have done, a skill or experience you have. It shouldn't be longer than 2-3 sentences, keep the long portfolio for the end, as the potential client may lose interest after a bunch of links.
Solve their problem
Let them know how you'll solve their problem, start a discussion if you have to clear up some details.
Ask them questions, that way they'll know you understand the problem and that you have spent time in research and they will appreciate it. Make sure they understand your approach, it's easier for you if your potential client is familiar with it.
Don't get too techy, unless they ask for it, people want to know what they'll get from you, not what tools you'll use.
Timeline & Budget
We won't get into details about pricing here, but depending on the details they provide, you should provide a rough timeline and budget. A simple table with dates, milestones and cost is enough. After all, it's a business, and they should know what to expect and compare with other quotes.
Consider that maybe some details are still not clear, or they may change, you shouldn't go with strict pricing in that case, and should protect yourself and your potential client. They'll know you are a good fit if you take care of these critical parts of your business relationship.
The beauty is in the details
Keep it short and on point, you'll get an idea of how long your proposal should be, depending on their request for a proposal.
Read your proposal before you send it, typos and spelling errors will lower your chances significantly.
Do small changes on each new proposal, test what works best, you will improve in a long term.
Don't be afraid to leave your personal touch, be creative, everyone wants to work with interesting people, and if you are one, they should know.
Keep trying, keep improving, experience is what will make you better in it, and a time will come when people will reach you before you try to reach them.