The first thing that should be kept in mind during proposal writing is that a proposal is vastly different from a report or other business document. The purpose of a proposal is to convince the reader that you or your organization is the most suitable candidate for a project or assignment.
Moreover, a project proposal usually has a format or template prescribed by the soliciting organization. Therefore, there is little creative freedom in proposal writing than with writing a report or manual. Here are some of the most important guidelines for how to write a proposal that meets its objective in convincing the reader about your suitability.
Introduce your organization:
Proposal writing may be initiated in response to a request or unsolicited. It is important to introduce yourself and your organization at the beginning of the document and as briefly as possible. Refer to any public information about your organization or personal contacts you have made with the reader or other influential people in his organization. Consider the interests of your reader. They would be more concerned about how you can help their organization than in what you and your organization have done.
Maintain an audience focus:
Remember that proposal writing is about keeping your reader’s interest at the forefront because this helps you to adopt a more persuasive and audience-focused tone. After introducing your organization, explain the problem that you aim to solve for the reader. The quality of this section depends on the quality of research you have conducted on the problem. This section should reflect that you understand the problem in all its complexity and diversity, and that you have conducted detailed research into the nature of the problem, why it exists, what consequences it has for the reader’s organization, and why it is important to resolve it.
Describe your proposal:
The next section in proposal writing should describe your proposed project or solution. This is the most important section as it builds your credibility and has the greatest persuasive impact on the reader. Describe the broad outlines of your proposal and explain what each phase of the project or solution is expected to accomplish. You should state the goal of each project stage explicitly, explaining how that goal will be achieved. It is crucial that you include specific details and facts to support this section. The complete scale of the project, the departments and operations affected by it, the estimated time of completion and costs of the project should be included.
Present estimated costs:
The section on costs and budgets is an essential part of proposal writing as it provides the basis on which the reader would evaluate the proposal. The project costs have to be reasonable as well as competitive so that your proposal has a greater likelihood of being accepted. You need to explain how much the different phases of the project will cost and how those finances will be arranged. It is important to indicate the cost of any equipment or resources that will be provided by your organization so that it is reflected in the estimated budget accurately.
Describe the resources:
The next section includes a description of the resources required to complete the project. The resources include physical resources such as equipment, physical facilities, and tools as well as human resources in terms of personnel such as managers, workers and other staff. It is important to include these resources in proposal writing because they directly influence the cost of the budget and the cost of the solution to the reader. You need to explain how the difference resources required for the project will be sourced, their quantity and use for the proposed project.
In proposal writing, it is important to be goal-oriented as well as audience-oriented. Every claim that you make has to be oriented towards meeting the goals of the reader. Therefore, when describing the details of your proposed solution, explain how each stage contributes towards achieving the goals of the reader, for instance, increased operational efficiency, better quality products, safer physical facilities, and so on. You need to explain how your proposed solution will help to address the problem described in the earlier section of the proposal. This helps to remind the reader that you are concerned about their problem and are capable of solving it efficiently and competently.
Follow the prescribed template and format:
Following the template and other requirements stated by the reader is essential to getting an initial reading of your proposal. This is even more important for proposal writing in response to a specific request. The soliciting company almost always prescribes a template for a proposal and it is important to follow it to the minutest detail. Even a minor deviation from the prescribed template will lead to the reader tossing away the proposal regardless of the quality of its content. Therefore, make sure that you are thoroughly aware of the preferred format of a proposal even when it has not been specifically mentioned by the intended reader.
Write the executive summary:
The executive summary is the last part in proposal writing, but it is one of the first to be read by the reader. The executive summary should not be a summary of each section of the proposal. It is not necessary to take the reader through a brief overview of the different parts of the proposal. Instead, the executive summary should briefly describe the problem, the proposed solution and the intended results of the solution. Thus, the executive summary should convey to the reader that you understand the problem and have a solid solution to it, and how the proposed solution will affect the organization.
Edit and proofread the proposal:
Once the proposal has been written, it is important to edit and proofread it several times. Proposal writing is a lengthy process and the writing quality can vary throughout the document. Therefore, it is important to double-check the accuracy of all information included in the proposal, particularly measurements and cost figures since even a minor error can throw the project off balance. Make sure that names of people and organizations are spelled correctly. To create a positive impact on the reader, make sure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors in the document and a professional tone is maintained throughout.
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