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Business Proposals

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Business Proposals

Many projects of significance begin with some type of proposal. A business proposal can be from an internal or external source, can be solicited or unsolicited, and can offer to deliver any number of things, from research to products to services. Depending on the project and company, proposals often involve collaboration among many co-workers including writers, technical associates, managers, lawyers, and accountants.


Business Proposal Structure

If the organization requesting the proposal does not provide a guideline for writing the proposal, use the following basic structure:

  • Summary
  • Introduction
  • Proposed Program
  • Qualifications/Experience
  • Budget
  • Appendices

Summary: A summary provides a brief statement about the problem or need, background, the proposed solution, the company's credentials, budget and schedule.

Introduction: An introduction orients the readers, providing information such as a description of the problem/need, the purpose for the proposal, background details, and scope (what you are and are not proposing to do). A good introduction will also include preliminary research completed and sources, if appropriate to the proposal.

Proposed Program: This section clearly describes what you propose to do and deliver, and why this is the best option for the client. For a goods-and-services proposal, this section should also include a detailed list of who will be providing what information or resources during the project's process. A research proposal will include research methodology and references to prior or preliminary research.

Qualifications/Experience: This section will include information about your project staff and their qualifications, your company's work history and experience as it relates to the project, and your available resources (depending on the project). Larger projects often include the resumes of the principal project staff.

Budget: Budget items estimated vary greatly depending on the project. A goods proposal typically provides just the bottomline cost for the client, such as $1,500 to provide 50 chairs. A program proposal may go into much more detail, listing items such as staff salaries, travel costs, equipment and supplies.

Appendices: As relevant, include work/task schedules, testimonials, references, graphs/charts and evaluation methods.