Project Proposal Template
Get buy-in from stakeholders and organize your ideas before a project.
About the Project Proposal template
What is a project proposal?
A project proposal outlines what you want to accomplish, your goals, and how you plan to achieve them. Generally, a project proposal gives the reader some context on the project, explains why it is important, and lists the actions that you will take to complete it.
Project proposals have myriad uses. Often, businesses use project proposals to get external buy-in from a donor or outside stakeholder. But many companies draw up project proposals for internal buy-in too.
What should I include in a project proposal?
A project proposal needs to be holistic in order to be effective. Not only is it important to include what you will be doing, designing, or executing on, but it is also important to show why a project is important. This means including background information on a project, the implications of the project, and what has already been done. A proposal should answer what the project is, why it matters, how the project will get done, and who would be involved.
What is the purpose of a project proposal?
Project proposals are vital. They are the scaffolding of any professional endeavor. Before investing resources in a project, a project proposal can be effective in assessing the value of a potential project. This type of document is especially helpful in communicating ideas to clients and outside stakeholders that need to better understand the concept and scope of a project.
How to create a project proposal:
Step 1: Write an executive summary.
An executive summary is like an abstract before a paper. Use the executive summary to explain the project -- but also to get buy-in. Think of it as an elevator pitch. Tell your reader why you’re undertaking this project, what you’re doing to succeed, and what success will look like.
Step 2: Contextualize the project.
Give your reader a brief history. Tell them about similar projects you’ve undertaken. If you’ve never undertaken this kind of project before, tell them why now is the time to do so. Show the reader how you’ve learned from prior projects to optimize for success on this one.
Step 3: Outline your needs.
Remember, the goal of a project proposal is to get buy-in. Tell your reader what you need to be successful. That could include resources, money, materials, and personnel.
Step 4: Showcase the problem you’re solving.
Start by telling the reader exactly what problem you aim to solve. Explain why you think it’s important to solve that particular problem. Frame the problem as an opportunity. It’s not just a hurdle -- it’s a potential market. Then make a case for your business. To win over your reader, persuade them that your project is uniquely suited to solving this problem. Highlight any project management techniques, skillsets, and resources your company is bringing to the table. Don’t be modest!
Step 5: Create a budget and timeline.
Sketch out an estimate of how long this project should take. Include some milestones that, once achieved, will let you know that the project is on track. And let your reader know how much it will cost to undertake this project. Be sure to explain how and why you plan to spend that money.
Step 6: Define the decision-makers.
Clarify the internal stakeholders who will be managing the project. That way, the reader will know who to contact if they want to partner with your business or learn more. You can also clarify external stakeholders who must sign off on the project.
Step 7: Lay out a communication plan.
When you finish the project, how do you plan to tell the world? Tell your reader how your audience will be impacted by your project and how you plan to communicate that impact. If you have a marketing team, collaborate with them on this section. They should include any documentation, press releases, emails, ads, and social media campaigns they plan to run when the project is finished.
Step 8: Add any additional information.
Many people include an appendix that does a deep-dive into the information from the proposal. You can use the appendix for technical documentation or statistics that would bug down the proposal itself, but that might interest your reader.
A Startup Canvas helps founders express and map out a new business idea in a less formal format than a traditional business plan. Startup Canvases are a useful visual map for founders who want to judge their new business idea’s strengths and weaknesses. This Canvas can be used as a framework to quickly articulate your business idea’s value proposition, problem, solution, market, team, marketing channels, customer segment, external risks, and Key Performance Indicators. By articulating factors like success, viability, vision, and value to the customer, founders can make a concise case for why a new product or service should exist and get funded.
Idea Funnel Backlog
An Idea Funnel Backlog enables you to visualize your backlog and restrict the number of backlogged items at the top. In doing sos, you can prioritize items on your list without having to engage in unnecessary meetings or create too much operational overhead. To use the Idea Funnel Backlog, break up the funnel into different phases or treat it like a roadmap. Use the Idea Funnel Backlog as a hybrid model that combines your roadmap and backlog into one easily digestible format.
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
Clarity, focus, and structure — those are the key ingredients to feeling confident in your company’s directions and decisions, and an OKR framework is designed to give them to you. Working on two main levels — strategic and operational — OKRs (short for objectives and key results) help an organization’s leaders determine the strategic objectives and define quarterly key results, which are then connected to initiatives. That’s how OKRs empower teams to focus on solving the most pressing organizational problems they face.
A team charter is a document that outlines your team’s purpose and objectives, as well as steps you will take to reach your goals. The team charter illustrates the focus and direction for all team members. When created collaboratively, the team charter is a great way for individuals to feel even more connected to one another within the group. A team charter template is useful when you’re first establishing a new team, adding new members to an existing team, or when you need to better align regardless of your team’s tenure.
SAFe Roam Board
A SAFe ROAM Board is a framework for making risks visible. It gives you and your team a shared space to notice and highlight risks, so they don’t get ignored. The ROAM Board helps everyone consider the likelihood and impact of risks, and decide which risks are low priority versus high priority. The underlying principles of SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) are: drive cost-effective solutions, apply systems thinking, assume that things will change, build incrementally, base milestones on evaluating working systems, and visualize and limit works in progress.
Wardley Mapping Canvas
A Wardley Map represents the landscape in which a business operates. It's made up of a value chain (the activities required to fulfill user needs) graphed against the evolution of individual activities over time. You place components with value on the y-axis and commodity on the x-axis. Use a Wardley Map to understand shared assumptions about your environment and discover what strategic options are available. Easily communicate your understanding of the landscape to your team, new hires, and stakeholders.