Please use the following six sections for your proposal.
Section 1: SUMMARY
While the summary comes first, you should write it last. A summary should reflect the length and complexity of the document. Notice that Markel says you should include a sentence or two only summarizing each section in the proposal. As a rule of thumb, most summaries will be 15-20% the length of the document. A document of 1000 words should be about 150-200 words.
Section 2: INTRODUCTION
For your reader to understand your proposal, you must provide relevant background and context. The introduction will include your preliminary research and should be fairly comprehensive. Because your intro contains significant research and a graphic, it will no doubt be at least two pages, but most of you with really good information will need three to five pages just for the introduction.
Do not forget that your intro must include at least three substantial outside sources or references such as researched articles, statistics, interviews, and even surveys. Read the chapter on research thoroughly to understand the quality of research needed for this proposal.
Your intro must contain extensive research, have convincing data, and have a fully thought out argument that is persuasive. In the intro, provide extremely persuasive information that will convince your audience that the business problem you have identified is significant. You must also convince your audience that the cost of the problem is greater than the cost of the solutions you are suggesting. So you have to convince them that in order to make money, they have to spend money! You will prove to them that the value of the product or service will reap significant benefits to them in the long run.
Additionally, you must include an original (one you create yourself) persuasive graphic in your introduction. This graphic must in some way depict the extent of the problem or be persuasive in nature in order to convince the reader of the significance of your research. Please read chapter 12 on choosing the appropriate type of graphic.
You must be persuasive–focusing on convincing your audience that this problem you have identified is so significant that he/she must find a viable solution in order for his/her business to be successful.
- What sort of facts/figures would convince your audience that your problem is significant?
- Would a survey that proved their customers were unsatisfied be convincing?
- Would comparing their business to a more successful business that has solved this problem be convincing?
- Would a financial breakdown of how the problem is costing the company money be convincing?
- Would quotes from actual customers of how the problem is affecting them be convincing?
- Would statistics of how this problem has affected other businesses be convincing?
All of these strategies, and many more, are persuasive and can be used and should be used in your proposal. Know your audience and know what appeals to him/her. Most upper lever managers have concerns with: saving or making money, time efficiency, improved customer success/service, increased employee satisfaction. How can you use these (and other) appeals to write a convincing proposal that he/she cannot turn down?
Pretend that everyone in the class is writing the same proposal as you. You are in direct competition with your classmates. What can you do to make your proposal stand out?
Section 3: PROPOSED TASKS
This section answers the question: What are you going to do in order to research your three solutions? What is your plan for getting all of this research done in a timely manner? Itemize each specific task and detail exactly what you propose to do to accomplish that task. Note: You are telling your audience what you plan to do in the future. You will not actually do any of the tasks in this section.
In order to research each solution, you have to come up with some common criteria in order to compare them. Think of the analogy of buying a TV. Before you buy a new TV, you would establish certain criteria in order to compare the TVs. One criterion would certainly be the cost. Another criterion might be picture quality. Another criterion might be size, reviews of the TV, reputation of company/brand, and so forth. When you go to the store, you are looking at those criteria and comparing them in order to see which TV is best for you.
In the proposal you are doing the exact same thing. You have three solutions and you will have 3-5 criteria to compare them. One of your criterion must be cost. Your other criteria might be functionality of the product, ease of implementing the solution, expert and/or user reviews of the product or service, warranties, durability, reliability, customer/employee preference, and so on. The more criteria you use to compare your solutions, the more thorough your research will be.
In this proposed task section, you will tell me how you will research each solution according to your established criteria.
- If your criterion is cost: How will you research cost? Who will you talk to in order to get estimates? What businesses will you have to call in order to get prices? Can you get any discounts? What about maintenance costs? The cost of warranties? Think about all of the costs for the lifetime of this product.
- If your criterion is user or exper reviews: Where will you get these reviews? How will you confirm the reviews are reliable?
- If your criterion is functionality of the product: How will you prove that the promoted functionalities of the product are actually true? How will you compare which functionality is better on each product?
Some suggestions of activities you may want to include are: talking to actual users, doing surveys, calling the company that produces the product, calling a company who already uses the product or service to see what they paid and how they like it, testing out the products yourself, consulting an expert in the field, etc.
Section 4: TASK SCHEDULE (GANTT CHART)
You must use an originally created Gantt chart for this schedule. In this chart, you simply tell your audience how long it will take you to complete each one of the tasks in the proposed task section. So, you will tell your audience what date the research will begin, how long (in days) you will spend on each task, and the date the projects (and all of the tasks) will be completed.
In the real world, timelines are often manipulated in order to get business. This practice is unethical and will create problems down the road.
Section 5: BUDGET
You must create an original professional table to display your budget. In the budget, estimate the costs associated with doing the research. The cost of the research is your hourly rate for performing the research. You must charge an hourly rate for your services; you cannot say the proposal is “free.”
You are not charging for the cost of the solution at this point. You are only asking them to give you money so that you can research and find the best solution at the best price.
Section 6: REFERENCES
Three references are required. Any resource you refer to when creating the profile must be referened as a source in the References section.
You must also cite your sources within your document (in-text citations).
You may use any style guide you are familiar with (APA, CBE, or MLA). My rule is that if I can’t find it based on the information you provide, then it’s a problem.
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