Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

We're looking into our processes and client relationships at work and part of this is creating a standardised template for our development proposals that we send to clients.

The development areas we cover are mainly web development and design and mobile application development. On top of this we also offer native software developments for small to large companies.

What we are aiming for is a template for each development area, something we can base future proposals on.

How do you go about writing something like this? Are the resources to help on the internet?

More importantly maybe, what would you guys say is important to include in a proposal? This is normally pre-"indepth technical spec", but I would suggest (for instance) including a wireframe or mockup of the finished product. How detailed must you be in order to portray the project to the client and understand the needs of the project yourself in order to charge accordingly?

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by gnat, MichaelT, Glenn Nelson, Martijn Pieters, ozz Mar 4 '13 at 16:06

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 4 down vote accepted

How do you go about writing something like this? Are the resources to help on the internet?

Typically, the templates that I look at are the ReadySET templates.

I would start by looking at the Project Proposal, Project Plan, Resource Needs, Target Market and Benefits, and User Needstemplates to see the kind of information that is typically used during project inception. You'll probably get a good feel for the kind of information you need to capture early in a project from these templates.

A word of caution that I always provide when talking about templates - be sure to tailor them to the needs of your team, project, organization, and client.

More importantly maybe, what would you guys say is important to include in a proposal?

It depends on who is using the document and what the requirements say to produce. This typically needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. I'm a proponent of agile/lean documentation, especially principles such as traveling light (only producing what you need to produce to capture decisions and the current state of the system, and no more) and "just barely good enough" documentation.

share|improve this answer
I don't get the readyset templates! :( I went through some abstract example involving pizzas - I have no idea how that helps me at all! :p Thanks for your effort in your answer, however I'm really no more clued up on the process of writing a project proposal. The agile stuff is very interesting, but again (perhaps I'm being really thick!) I'm not sure how to apply it to my question. :( – Thomas Clayson Sep 2 '11 at 13:33
@Thomas If you click on the link to the Project Proposal template (as an example), it brings you to a webpage that has a list of sections that are part of the Project Proposal document and the questions that should addressed by each section of the document. – Thomas Owens Sep 2 '11 at 13:37
Good answer. I've been watching this question for a few hours now and I am astonished this post hasn't received more upvotes. The templates are great to start out, all the links are very valuable. – Falcon Sep 2 '11 at 16:45

Make a short list of what you think should be included. You can look for examples that have the most over-lap. Google Docs has several templates.

Revisit your previous proposals and do a little debriefing on how they were accepted by the clients. Other than just being inconsistent, there may be other problems expecially if clients are asking you to redo for the same reason.

Don't have a template that tries to include everything without the ability to remove unecessary items. No one want to read through a page of items with "NA". Avoid the tempation to take a previous proposal for a similar client and edit it for a new one. It's like copy and pasting large blocks of code.

Ask the client what format they prefer, but give a list of options. You never know what's required by your end users. You don't want them doing a presentation of your proposal after it has been printed and scanned int PowerPoint. Spreadsheets are nice if they want to do a little math. You never know; they may actually want to add something to the project.

share|improve this answer

This is the pattern I believe to be proper:

  1. Always start by introducing yourself, what your company does, and what you can do for your prospective client.

  2. Define a problem, the customers' need to be satisfied.

  3. Propose a solution.

  4. Determine costs.

  5. Define TERMS: payment, deliverables, what's included, what's not (support, etc...) and be clear about it.

  6. Contact info.

A proposal needs to be generic, but addressed TO the client and make him feel as if the proposal is just for him. Not so different as in programming generics:

class Proposal<E>

private Proposal proposal<ClientX>

(This part is my personal opinion, I know others would disagree) - Oh, and use a custom PDF with a nice background design (nice but elegant, serious). I have been on both the sending and receiving end of a proposal, and when you are a web company, involved in design, how you present yourselves in every aspect counts. A plain white PDF (Or worst, .doc or any other format) is not a good presentation.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.