Project proposal is an initial document that transforms an idea or policy into details of an effective project. It includes the outputs, outcomes, costs, stakeholders, major risks and an estimate of the time & resource required.
Project Proposal Definition
The basic definition of the project proposal should be remembered while planning that proposal. In simpler words, a proposal is a bid or an offer to perform particular project for someone. Other elements are also included in the proposals like technical background, survey results, recommendations, information about feasibility etc. The main aspect of the project proposals is to approve the funds or grant from the audience which ensures their permission to conduct the proposed project.
In case of running a business, written proposals can be one of the significant elements for bringing in the business. In case of working for non-profit organization, government agency or a large company than written proposal can be a potential instrument for starting projects that benefits the organization & the project employees.
Project proposals must include information that enables the audience in making decision about the approval of the considered project as well as hiring of the proponent of the project as project manager. When the project proposals are written, the writer must consider himself as the audience or receiver of the proposal and try to predict the required information that will motivate the audience for approval of the project.
Types of Project Proposals
View the circumstances in which project proposals occur. A public announcement may be send by the company regarding request for proposals for particular projects. Through newspaper advertising, chamber of commerce channels, trade journals or individual letters, this public announcement can be issued which is referred to as Request for Proposal (RFP). Proposals are then written by the interested companies and individuals who summarize their qualifications, cost & schedules of the project and discussion about their approach to the project. All these project proposals are finally received by the relevant body which then assess them, choose the best candidate and then develop a contract. Following are some of the important categories of project proposals.
- Internal Project Proposal
- External Project Proposal
- Solicited Project Proposal
- Unsolicited Project Proposal
- Internal Proposal
The proposal which is written for someone within the organization is referred to as internal proposal. Internal proposal does not contain much information or skip certain sections like qualification section etc.
- External Proposal
The proposal written by a separate, independent consultant suggesting to conduct a project for another company is referred to as an external proposal. It can be a proposal from a company or individual to another company or individual.
- Solicited Proposal
In case of solicited proposal, the receiver of the proposal requested the proposal in some way. Generally a Request for Proposals (RFPs) is send out by a company through publicity in some source of news or through mail. The solicited proposals are only confined to the local level. For example, an employee can suggest his boss to install new technology in the office for making performance effective; the boss may be interested in that suggestion and request that employee to write proposal on this idea for detailed analysis.
- Unsolicited Proposal
The proposal that is not requested by the receiver in any manner is referred to as unsolicited proposal. In some cases, the writer of the unsolicited proposal should convince the receiver that a need or problem is present before beginning of the main part of the proposal.
Solicited Vs Unsolicited Project Proposals
Solicited Project Proposals
An organization (public/private foundation, federal/state agency etc) has solicited proposals when an announcement is transmitted by the organization about contract/grant/cooperative agreement program and the organization requests other individual/organization for proposal submission.
- Common Solicitation
RFP – Request for Proposals (contract-mostly)
RFA – Request for Applications (Grant)
PA – Program Announcement (Grant)
RFQ – Request for Quotation (contract)
BBA – Broad Agency Announcement
- Response to Solicitation
It generally involves the following
- Scope of Work
- Key Personnel
- Work plan, aims, methodology
- Budget Justification
Unsolicited Project Proposals
The organization may accept and fund projects on the basis of unsolicited proposals even if the organization has not solicited proposals.
- Common Solicited Agreements
- Cooperative Agreements
- Initiation of the Contract
Unsolicited proposals are accepted by many agencies. On the basis of the agency, the unsolicited proposals include lengthy full proposals, agency specific forms and short letter proposals or letters of inquiry which comprises of 2-4 pages.
Request for Proposals
The invitation for supplies to submit proposal on a particular product or service through a bidding process is referred to as Request for Proposal (RFP). Generally many aspects are included in the Request for Proposal (RFP) other than the price factor. Other requested information may contain financial information, basic corporate information & history, Product information and technical capability etc.
An Operational Requirement (OR) is generally sought to be fulfilled by raising Request for Proposals (RFPs) in military. A detailed technical specification is usually issued by the military procurement authority. The potential contractors will tender against such detailed technical specification issued. The RFP is normally component of a complex sales process, which is also called enterprise sales, in case of civilian use.
Mostly the descriptions for the project, item or service are included in the Request for Proposals (RPFs) for which the proposal is requested. The accuracy of the provided proposal may become better when the specifications are mention in more detail. Normally Request for Proposals (RFPs) is delivered to an approved vendor or supplier list.
Proposal is returned by bidders by a specified date and time. Depending on the terms of initial Request for Proposals, late proposals may or may not be viewed. The suitability as a vendor, supplier or institutional partner is evaluated with the help of proposals. Discussion can be made on the proposals. In some cases all or selected bidders are requested to take part in the following bids and they may be requested to submit their effective financial & technical proposals which is generally called Best and Final Offer (BAFO).
Request for Proposal (RFP) Variation
When discussions are not required with bidders, the Request for Quotation (RFQ) is used. In such cases price element is the major component in selecting the effective bidder. Before proceeding to the detailed Request for Proposal (RPF), Request for Quotation (RFQ) may also be used as the first step to ascertain general price ranges. In such cases suppliers, services or products may be chosen from the results of RFQ for making further research so that more effective RFP can be written. Sometimes RFP is employed for Request for Pricing.
Request for Information (RFI)
In order to ascertain the kinds of products & services effectively available in the marketplace for fulfillment of the needs of customers, a proposal is requested from a potential seller or service provider which is generally referred as Request for Information (RFI). Through such proposal, the capacity of the seller is ascertained in terms of the strengths & offerings of the seller. Request for Information (RFIs) are generally employed on important procurements, where a need can effectively be fulfilled through different alternative means. However a Request for Information (RFI) is not a binding on either purchaser or seller, it is not an invitation to bid and can or cannot guide to Request for Quotation (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP).
Characteristics of Project Proposals
Project proposals have the following important characteristics.
- The project proposals have high priority and they are comprised of efforts of shorter duration. Regardless of the pressure of work and other demands on the contracting organizations, they must be finished to the schedule requirements of the owners.
- At least in the basic proposal, the specifications of the owner for the preferred payment method should be adhered to. Alternative can be proposed for the owner’s considerations which provide benefits to both parties.
- Certain format for the proposal and for presentation of the requested information will be specified by the owner mostly.
- Clear preference may be expressed by the owner regarding the location where the project work will be performed. Alternative arrangements may be suggested by the engineering company that provides the owner a most cost effective project without losing the required contract. However, the base proposal should be as reactive as possible.
- For the construction labor arrangements, the owner may have a preference which can be expressed openly or simply implied. In some cases this preference is not clearly mentioned in the discussions with the owner or in the Request for Proposal (RFP). In such cases it is must be ascertained as early as possible in the proposal attempt in order to properly plan the construction program.
- The formation of a team of representatives is required by the proposal project for the technical, management and support functions. Most of these them have obligations that exceed the proposed project. These potential responsibilities of work must be viewed and fulfilled s much as possible.
- The costing of project proposals is generally made against corporate overhead and therefore they will be carefully supervised and strictly budgeted by the senior management.