Guidelines for Project Proposals*
A technical proposal, often called a “Statement of Work,” is a persuasive document. Its objectives are to
1. Identify what work is to be done
2. Explain why this work needs to be done
3. Persuade the reader that the proposers (you) are qualified for the work, have a plausible management plan and technical approach, and have the resources needed to complete the task within the stated time and cost constraints.
What makes a good proposal? One attribute is appearance. A strong proposal has an attractive, professional, inviting appearance. In addition, the information should easy to access. A second attribute is substance. A strong proposal has a well-organized plan of attack. A strong proposal also has technical details because technical depth is needed to sell your project. Remember: A proposal is a persuasive document.
Format consists of the layout and typography of a document. In formatting your proposal, use the guidelines in Table 1. A template to produce your proposal exists at the following web page:
One aspect of layout is the incorporation of illustrations. In your proposal, each illustration should have a name and be formally introduced in the text. Illustrations consist of figures and tables. Figures include photographs, drawings, diagrams, and graphs. Each figure should have a stand-alone caption, and the key points and features should be labeled. Tables are arrangement of words and numbers into rows and columns. Use tables to summarize lists that the audience will try to find later (the budget, for instance).
Table 1. Format guidelines for requested proposal.
Font for headings Boldface serif or sans serif: size in accordance with hierarchy Font for text portion 12-point serif such as Times New Roman or Book Antiqua Margins Standard, at least 1 inch
Layout One column, single-sided
Paragraphing Indented paragraphs, no line skip between paragraphs in a section
Page number Bottom centered
Figure names Numbered: Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3, and so forth
Figure captions Below figure in 10 point type
Table names Numbered: Table 1, Table 2, Table 3, and so forth
Table headings Above table in 12 point type
* Adapted from Guidelines at the Penn State Learning Factory: https://www.lf.psu.edu/
As given in the proposal template, your proposal should have the following sections and headings:
a. Title of project in initial capital letters
b. The sponsoring company and contact person’s name and information
c. Team name and individual member names
e. An appropriate picture of the product, a team logo, or both
Content: A brief summary of the proposal
Length: one-third to one-half page, never more than one page
Emphasis: highlighting of the proposed technical and management approach
Table of Contents
Statement of Problem: the “Why?”
Summary of the request by the sponsor (the original problem statement) Background:
Brief description of company and their business Relevance or importance of problem Background information to educate the reader
Previous related work by others—literature review with credible sources Patent search, if applicable
Detailed problem description, as you now understand it
Objectives: the “What?”
In the Objectives section, you translate the customer’s quantitative and qualitative needs into clear, objective design specifications. Define the scope of work and clearly state the project objectives, including the following:
a. Design specifications in specific, quantitative terms. For example, “The plate must be rotated three times at a speed of between 1 and 3 rev/s” or “Control the temperature of a 1 liter non-insulated standard glass beaker of water to 37.5 ± 0.5oC for three hours without temperature deviation.”
b. Critical design issues, constraints, limitations.
Technical Approach: the “How?”
Although you may not know all the details of the problem solution, you should know a first design on how you will attack the problem, and you should have some design concepts. The purpose of this section is to present the process by which you will arrive at the final answer. This section answers the following questions:
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