How to Write a Technical Proposal

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Writing any kind of proposal follows a process. The process leads toward the goal of getting your proposal accepted. With a technical proposal, you have defined parameters to use. You propose to make something technical based either on an original idea or on a need in the marketplace. The first thing to remember is to write your proposal targeting your audience as if you were speaking directly to them in a formal interview. Your tone should be direct. Use plain, persuasive language. Highlight points without unnecessary details and engage the audience in the idea of the final product.

Making Your Case

Define the need for the product being proposed. Engage the reader of the proposal so that at the end of the first section, the reader agrees with you that what you propose should indeed exist. For instance, if you are proposing an Internet filter for parents to use so their children can spend more time using the Internet, make sure to emphasize just how important it is for young people to be able to access the Internet and for parents to allow them to use it worry-free.

Describe the benefits of what you propose. The benefits of your proposal must flow directly out of your description of the need for it to exist. If your Internet filter is created for parents, more people will use the Internet—and your product will be in greater demand. Also address any greater good that may come from your proposal. Be careful to not present your proposal as something that will change the world. It's fine if it does change the world as a byproduct, but proposing something as being more than it is will sink your proposal.

Outline the process needed to make the product you are proposing. As this is a technical proposal, the process should follow a procedure already known to the reader of the proposal. If you are creating a filter, describe the creation in relevant terms, such as writing software code, not in any other, more showy terms.

Present a vision of the final product. How will this new thing be brought out of the creation process and into the world? Who will use it, how will they learn about it and how will the reader of the proposal be involved?

Highlight your own participation. Explain what it is about this process that requires you to be doing this, instead of someone else.

Tips

  • Add a theoretical timeframe and budget with your proposal to offer the audience a view of the process in terms of a calendar and funding. Research other successful proposals. Use the Internet or reference books and articles to find samples of successful technical proposals.

Warnings

  • Make sure that your audience completely understands your subject. Don’t take for granted that your proposal is going to people who think just like you do or know the same things you do, but also don’t speak down to them in your writing.

References

  • "The Elements of Technical Writing"; Gary Blake and Robert W. Bly; 2000
  • "Technical Writing for Dummies"; Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts

Resources

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