Take the 2-minute tour ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free.

I've been reading over some proposals for software projects recently and I'm a little concerned by what I've seen. Often I feel that proposals have been rushed and/or poorly thought out.

It's very possible that proposals don't need to look like a basket of fruit, but if your pitching for work or seeking approval for funding, there has to be some guidelines available for what constitutes a "decent" proposal.

I was wondering if anyone was aware of good guidelines for writing software proposals or could possibly point me at books/websites etc?

share|improve this question

closed as too broad by gnat, MichaelT, GlenH7, user61852, Kilian Foth Feb 19 at 10:13

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Very often, proposals are evaluated on several dimensions, including non technical ones (e.g. societal or market relevance for collaborative European R&D) –  Basile Starynkevitch Feb 14 at 17:09

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Having written and been part of numerous project proposals, the key thing is: know your audience. Presumably, the people you are writing to have the power to accept/decline funding (financially, people power, etc.). Ensure that you show them in their language why this little project of yours will be beneficial to them (and everyone).

Think about:

  • What your project will achieve
  • How your project will achieve its goals
  • How to make your project stand out from other project proposals
  • The amount of terminology the readership is accustomed to seeing
share|improve this answer

Kind of goes without saying but focus on what value the project has to the organization and why/how its going to save money. That savings could be direct bottom line dollars or in efficiencies.

share|improve this answer

I was searching for the answer on this question a year ago. Frankly speaking, there is a lot of information about it in the internet. Not everything makes sense unfortunately. :(

I made some research and requested from 20+ software development companies for the project I proposed to implement. I collected their proposals and reviewed them carefully. And I'd say the following sections must be included into a good project proposal.

  1. Nice Front page
  2. Project description with system architecture and other pictures
  3. Work scope breakdown into tasks and sub-tasks with man-hours estimation of each one
  4. Delivery schedule
  5. Budget calculation and payment terms
  6. Marketing information like portfolio samples and references

The most important for certain is #3. So important that I'll probably even write an article about it a bit later.
But remember that the more detailed dividing out the work scope is done, then the more correct estimation could be provided and the better impression it gives to the customer when he reads the proposal.

We also tried to find good software to automatically generate proposals for software projects and maybe some basic CRM. We reviewed sw proposal, proposal pad, and a few others. I don't really want to advertise anyone of them so you can decide yourself which best suits your needs. We have been using such software and generally it makes our life easier. Our staff doesn't even need to think which sections should be included since the software has predefined fields which suit our needs.

share|improve this answer

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