The following project proposal outline is in a generic format so it can be applied to several kinds of circumstances and projects.
As you sit down to write your own document keep in mind that although some details will necessarily change to accommodate your particular project type, scope, and industry, the general structure is more or less the same for any kind of project proposal.
Included in each section are also a few tips and examples to help you produce a proposal that is clear, accurate, and focused.
This section is meant to provide a overall picture of the project that can be seen at a glance as well as convey important project details.
Name of the Organization: XYZ, Inc
Project Title: New Widget Development
Project Summary: Write a 2-4 sentence summary of the project scope
Project Time-frame: January,1 2010 – September, 30 2010
List those individuals who are involved with the project and can be contacted. Be sure to include their name, title, role in the project, as well as phone numbers and email addresses
The goal of this section is to present the reasons for doing this project as well as stating all of the project's objectives. In this section in particular it is very important to write concisely and clearly. Some project professionals even suggest writing the project summary last. Before you begin writing you should be able to answer the following questions:
- Why are you doing this project?
- What will you be doing?
- How will you be doing it?
- Who will be doing it?
- Where will it be done?
- How long will it take?
- How much will it cost?
1.) Project Background
Explain what needs/problems you are trying to solve, and why these needs/problems are worth solving. You should also provide a brief setting and history behind the project. This section should be no more than a page. Include references to supporting documentation, such as research papers and articles. This information can be placed in the index at the end.
2.) Project Objectives
- Objective 1
- Objective 2
- Objective 3
This sections details the plan for how the project objectives will be achieved. It usually starts with a description of the overall approach. Then it provides details on methodology, the population being addressed, and how anticipated problems will be managed.
1.) The Project Approach Summary
Write a few short paragraphs or bullet points on your overall approach to the project. Include how the project team will be organized, what development and collaboration tools will be used, and how the plan will be updated along the way.
2.) Work Breakdown and Task Time Estimates
In this section you should create a detailed project schedule. Make a list of tasks that will be performed for this project, make sure the list is detailed enough and the tasks broken down enough to expose risks and make reasonable estimates in man hours required. You may want to include a milestone chart in this section.
For a great example of a project schedule, go here.
3.) Project Deliverables
Make a list of project "deliverables." (These are the products, information, reports, etc that will be delivered to the client at the end and throughout the duration of the project). Make sure to include a description of the deliverable and an estimated delivery date.
Project Risk Management
This section details the major project risks and delineates the plans to alleviate or control them. Make sure to address each risk's likelihood of occurring as well as its impact on the project and the organization.
This is the detailed plan of action to minimize and contain any risk factors that may come up as the project progresses.
2.) Risk Register
Be sure to include this line-item list of risks and counter efforts.
In this section you will need to estimate the overall cost of the project.
1.) Project Budget
A detailed, line-item budget should be divided into categories such as salaries, fringe benefits, travel, supplies, and equipment. Make sure to also include any overhead costs (called "indirect costs") that will be associated with the project.
2.) Budget Narrative
The budget narrative is basically a list of commentary needed to clarify and justify the figures on your budget.
3.) Additional Financial Statements
Some project proposals may require additional financial statements, such as a profit and loss statement, a recent tax return, an annual report, or a list of funding sources.
In this section you should try to tie up all the above information in a short summary that explains the potential value of the project and emphasizes its feasibility.
This is where you should put additional charts, graphs, reports, etc. that were cited in the proposal, but were not appropriate to place in the main body of the document.