IT project proposal preparation
The 2 main types of internal IT project proposal for replacing business systems, such as a CRM system are:
- outline proposal for system selection and system replacement in principle – to obtain approval for limited funds to undertake the system selection process
- detailed proposal to implement a replacement system – carried out at the end of the system selection process – to obtain approval for much larger funds to purchase software, hardware, consultancy, training and implement the chosen system
If your organisation has a defined internal project approval process or framework, you will have to closely follow it if you wish to obtain project approval. If there is no defined process, you will have greater choice as to what and how to include in a proposal. But this probably makes it harder, so consider the following points when preparing your IT project proposal:
Ensure you fully understand the business and end user needs for the project. If you have yet to prepare more than a ‘back of the envelope’ spec of requirements, these RFI/RFP Templates can help you to quickly and easily prepare your requirements specification, RFI and RFP. Make sure the business and user needs (requirements) are crystal-clear in the proposal.
Understand what the other key project drivers are eg cost containment, time scale, project quality. Once known, make sure you give this adequate emphasis within the proposal.
Next, consider the proposal recipients ie the executive management / board, what they are looking for, the information they require and what is important to them and the organisation. Then provide the information they require eg if they want details give them, if not don’t. If you are unsure what they want – find out, before preparing the proposal. Picture them going through your proposal with a checklist – does your proposal tick all the boxes?
Plan the proposal before you write it and then stick to the plan.
Try to get it right the first time, as rewriting / editing can take up a disproportionate amount of time.
For each proposal plan item consider the executive’s requirements, their evaluation criteria, emphasis.
Purpose of proposal eg to persuade the executive management / board to
- replace the system in principle
- approve and fund the proposed course of action
Put the most important information up front. Say what the project will do for them ie the benefits. Use positive statements.
State clearly what actions you want them to do eg review the it project proposal, approve the project, approve funding.
Consider using story boards or annotated outlines to build an outline proposal first and then fill in the detailed information for each story board or heading.
Consider preparing the proposal using a single author or a team. It is a lot of work for one person, who needs to have all the required skills. Using multiple authors spreads the workload, but requires careful control, communication, collaboration and proposal editing.
Proposal Checklist - Outline IT project proposal (for system selection plus system replacement in principle)
Proposed project name
Purpose of proposal
Project goals and objectives
Expected outcomes, deliverables and beneficiaries
Definition of the problem and project background
Strengths, weaknesses, reliability, scalability, security of the proposed solution
Project scope / parameters
Business area(s) affected eg where the project work will be undertaken, where the benefits will arise
Key project components eg software, hardware, database, network, business process re-engineering (BPR) requirements
Conformity to organisational technology strategies and standards
Technical impact of project and compatibility with existing infrastructure
Summarised business and user needs
Sponsor and stakeholder acceptance of the proposal
Expected benefits from the project including
- tangible benefits, cost savings or income,
- intangible (soft) benefits
How the project enhances / replaces the existing system, the benefits of a new technology system
Expected costs for the project. Broken down and analysed: system selection phase, implementation phase, ongoing costs, total budget required, budgetary limits
Business case justifying the project, based on the expected costs and benefits including ROI, NPV, IRR, Payback calculations
System selection methodology
Outline of how the proposal will be undertaken
Proposed project implementation methodology / technical approach
Project constraints eg system architecture, critical dates
Outline project plans – for both system selection and system implementation.
Plans to show key activities, dates, and deliverables
Milestones and measurements / metrics of the outcomes
Start and end dates
Interim milestone dates.
How the project will be managed
How work will be organised / supervised
Resources for system selection in some detail, but only in outline for the implementation
Project team, roles, and responsibilities
Resource plan, allocation
Resource details, qualifications, experience, skills
Risk analysis and management
Assessment of existing system(s)
Assessment of alternative proposals, evaluations and why they have been rejected
Implications of doing nothing, why this is not an acceptable option
Proposal Checklist - Detailed IT project proposal (to implement a replacement system)
Essentially a revision and update of the outline it project proposal (above), with more information added
Summary and objectives
Revise as appropriate
Revise based on knowledge of chosen software / hardware, detailed user requirements and data, software selection process workings, statement of work
Revise based on latest workings, analysis of proposed solution
Revise and tighten up – base on quoted vendor prices eg for software, hardware, maintenance, latest revised estimates for consultancy, training, resources
Revise based on latest costs and benefits
Methodology for system implementation may need revising based on later knowledge and / or the software vendor practices
Prepare detailed system implementation plans, even if only include a summary within the proposal
Updated plans to include key activities, tasks, resourcing, gantt charts, dependencies, work schedules
Schedule of major milestones, dates with associated deliverables
Stakeholder acceptance of the implementation plan
Time scales and project management
Revise based on latest knowledge
Revise based on implementation requirements, need for external consultancy, internal staff skills and availability
Update risk analysis and management
- ongoing support requirements
- quality assurance
- vendor contract and service level agreement
For more IT project proposal information visit: Why change your present system? / Project scope checklist / Proposal format / Basic roi calculation / Return on investment calculator / Maximising project ROI / Project budget / Hidden costs of acquiring software / Project budget template / Proposal evaluation sheet / Software selection acronyms