Targeting Financial Success Factors in Your Project Proposal Templates

Using proper template structure when building up your project proposals

by Rod Dunne on March 23, 2011

in Biz Dev, Creative

A sample project proposal template is an initial document used to plan out a project to a level of detail where decision-makers within a company can make a final decision whether to make go/no-go decision on the project.

Getting its content and structure right improves your chances of the project & budget being approved (just as with a business proposal template structure).

Getting started

The initial sections of a project proposal template are intended to sell management on the benefits and methods used to delivered the project.

These sections should therefore emphasize many of the benefits that can be expected from this work.

Project proposal templates can be highly customized based on your industry and the nature of the project itself, but it is always worth starting out with a comprehensive list of sections and then cutting back on those you do not require.

The same structure can be used when dealing with project management services for securing proposals regarding how their consultants will manage your projects. Use good quality document tracking software to maintain copies of your document as it is iteratively added to, reviewed and improved upon.

A sample project proposal template

Executive summary

This should be the first section in the document, but the last section to be completed as it provides an overview of the objectives, benefits and activities involved in the project.

It should sum up all the other sections of the sample project proposal template, especially as some managers may simply only read this section without delving and further into the justifications for your project (so really needs to sell the project all by itself).

Of key interest will be whether or not your project will improve sales performance or solve key issues for the firm.


Provide some of the lead up/background information relating to this project. Was previous work done or preparations done? If research was completed that highlighted specific customer/markets segments which should be targeted by this project then include details of this (or reference them in an appendix).

If the work is being done as part of a product innovation strategy they should clearly identify what architectures, foundations or product designs are being leveraged (e.g. for creating a new line of products). Marketing and sales projects should also define how multi-level marketing tools will be used.


Explicitly spell out what the goals of the project are. Clarify what benefits can be expected. These can vary greatly from project to project we should endeavor to include goals or objectives relating to performance, security, productivity, sales, etc.

Use example performance evaluations from previous projects to set a benchmark for various system and operational performance expectations.

Team setup/reporting channels/chain of command

Define the type of team structure required for your project. This will include individuals from several disciplines. Include generic job titles if individual employees/contractors have not been identified at this point. Clarify the chain of command within these teams and how they will communicate with management as well as other teams.

You should point out benefits of insourcing versus outsourcing jobs at this point.

Work breakdown structure and timelines (milestones)

All project work can at least be broken down into several smaller activities in order to clearly define what the tasks involved actually are. Specify what the tasks involved actually are. Provide a chronological order for how the work will be performed along with major and minor milestones. You can easily use project management software to produce elegant graphs and spreadsheets for this.

For high-value projects, it will be essential to break down the scope of this work into minor milestones and more granular activities. Do not go below providing activities which take less than one day to perform. The level of granularity for each activity should take between one to five days to complete.


Many project proposal templates omit including some of the prerequisites that will be required before work can start.

This may include resourcing requirements (e.g. hiring, outsourcing, releasing individuals from other projects, etc.) as well as hardware or technical requirements (e.g. office space, computers, servers, etc.). These will need to be budgeted for and purchased/arrange for well in advance.

A great many business proposal examples you get online come with default categories and structures. You should always customize these for your own purposes, the uniqueness of your company and your specific industry.

Production methods/technical environment

Define some of the technicalities of how the project will actually be delivered. In a software project proposal template this will form a large part of the document as you need to explicitly define the project management techniques being used, technical architectures, system architectures, operation approaches etc.

Production methods will change from industry to industry but will still need to be clarified so that the operational day-to-day processes are clearly defined from the outset.

For example, a sales project pursuing network marketing options has to identify software/tools being used and modes of operation. You need to do the same no matter which type of project you are entering into.

Communication strategy

A key part of any sample project proposal template is how individuals will communicate amongst the team (their chain of command) and with external stakeholders.

Reporting channels need to be defined (weekly, monthly reports) as well as daily meetings, risk management processes, issue management processes, etc.

Estimated costings

The work breakdown structure can be used to define the actual timelines for doing this work, resourcing requirements and hardware. Assign costs and time factors to every element of the work breakdown structure to build up a complete estimate of your work cost.

Everything from contractors and computer network support services to stationary and unique promotional products has to be factored into your costs.

Be sure to include a contingency factor of at least 10%. A higher percentage will be necessary based on the type of project you are performing and level of complexity involved.

If the project is prone to change mid-lifecycle then this should be documented as and a separate change budget allocated.

Summary and recommendations

If several different project proposals are included in the one project proposal template then you should summarize the findings of each of these proposals along with your recommendations about which technique/project approach would be the most suitable. Justify your recommendation using data rather than mere hunches.


In order to reduce the amount of bulkiness important postal template you should use appendices wisely. Try to include any statistical information, market research data, etc. within appendix sections.

Author Rod Dunne...

Blog owner and sole writer Rod DunneI am the owner and sole writer on This is my personal blog detailing troubleshooting tips for small businesses. Posts are based upon 2 decades in consultancy & innovation management within startups/maturing companies.

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