Steps to Building the Winning Project Proposal Outline

December 19, 2019 Trilby Lawless

The project proposal is your time to shine when you’re trying to win over a new client or share your services. So why does it seem easier said than done? 

Often it’s getting started that’s the hardest part, and making sure you have the right formula to efficiently map out your project, and communicate a plan of success. With the right steps in place, the time you put into making your project proposal will leave you with a persuasive document, and the goals you need to get started. 

Let’s get to it. 

Step 1: Grasp the Big Picture

Before you put anything down on paper, take some time to talk through the project, whether that’s with your team or by yourself. This will help jog your mind for ideas and give you a better understanding of the project scope before you try to make sense of it in the outline. 

First, put yourself in the shoes of the client, what questions might they ask during the pitch? Make note of those so you can address them in your plan, and any pre-known obstacles that you can stay on top of. Most importantly, nail down what your firm’s specific hook is for winning the project and making you stand above the competition.

Step 2: Calculate the Project Scope

Taking on a new client or engagement is building a relationship, it needs to be a two-way street. Although it sounds cheesy before you can go forward, you need to do some self-reflection. Find out what it’s going to take to hold up your firm’s end of the relationship. This means looking at the scope and doing a calculation of how much time and resources it will take. 

Factoring in dependencies is a big part of this as well. To be able to know ahead of time which tasks, staff, and milestones are going to depend on a milestone is key to staying ahead of roadblocks. Save these notes to include in your project proposal by sharing what resources will be tracked and how you plan to monitor the scope. 

Step 3: Conquer the Executive Summary

Guaranteed to be anyone’s least favorite part of the project outline, the introduction is daunting. The best way to tackle this is to not stress about the fluff. Keep it simple and keep the client’s attention by going straight to addressing their needs. Start with the unique angel you came up with or a piece of relevant data. The goal is to keep it short, yet be exciting and motivating for the client.

Step 4: Address the Problem

This portion of the outline is where you lay out what needs to be solved and why it’s important, to give context to the conversation. Show that you have taken the time to understand the perspective of the client and other similar projects. Some outlines also use this chance to talk through the requirements of the project. What items, materials or additional resources that are needed.

Step 5: Present the Solution 

As this section title suggests, here is where you share your solution to the client’s problem, highlighting the skills, strategies, and procedures that your team suggests will work best. This is where your big idea comes together, so keep it clear and to the punch. The best outlines also give an expected result that will be actively tracked and measured for updates to the client along the way. 

Step 6: Talk Money

Now comes the time to dive into budgets. The client will be eager to know what it’s going to cost them, and how phases of the project will be budgeted. The best tip we can give here is to be upfront about the why behind each cost. Use this opportunity to show the value your firm is adding by giving substance around the budget. 

Step 7: Show Your Management Plan

Essentially, this step of the outline goes through what steps are in place to make sure the project is closely managed to avoid things going off course. Hint: Having a professional services automation software, like BigTime, makes this step easy for you. You can assure your clients how you’ll be able to stay on top of the project’s tasks, budgets, and resources in real-time. 

Step 8: Conclusion 

Finally, you’ve reached the conclusion. Keep this simple, like the introduction, and briefly summarize the main points from the previous sections. End on a high note by restating your unique value proposition, and don’t forget to give a clear next step to keep the ball rolling. 

One last tip…

After you’ve completed steps 1-8, go back to the start of your outline and edit, edit, edit. All writing takes revisions, and a document as important as a proposal is worth having more than one set of eyes on it. The end goal is to have a proposal that is professionally organized and detailed. Keep it clear and concise and you’ll be on the road to success! 

If you’re ready to learn more about how you can streamline the process of managing your project plan once it’s in action, click here to request a personalized walkthrough of our PSA software.

 

About the Author

Trilby Lawless

Digital Content Manager

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