When writing a business proposal, the project narrative is the section that outlines the goals, schedule, project management details, evaluation criteria and long-term expectations. It’s a critical part of every proposal and helps demonstrate how you will achieve the objectives for which the company is aiming. Whether you’re writing a formal proposal in response to an RFP to bid on a project or an informal proposal to your manager for a project you’d like to take on, craft the project narrative carefully to effectively communicate the benefits and results.
Define the Goals in Your Project Narrative
The first step of the project narrative is to outline your main goals for the project you’re proposing. What are the desired outcomes of this project, and how do they relate to the strategic goals of the company? Establishing this up front helps the reader of the proposal to understand the importance of the project and how it relates to the overarching goals of the business. This shows your understanding of the company and your familiarity with its strategies.
For example, if you’re proposing to create a new e-commerce website for a business, the key objectives can be to:
- Establish a business presence on the web.
- Build trust and credibility with prospects.
- Provide product benefits and results to prospects.
- Enable prospects to purchase the products online.
Establish the Schedule
A progress narrative report needs to include the schedule for the proposed project. Outline the key milestones you plan to hit and the expected completion date of the project. Provide specific dates tied to elements of the scope so that the company can get an idea of how you plan to complete the project in the desired time frame.
Present your schedule in a chart form so that it’s easy to understand at a glance. Include columns for date, deliverable, dependencies and additional information. This way, you can provide a clear schedule that shows how certain elements of the project are related and interconnected. If one aspect of the project is delayed, other elements may be delayed as a result. This kind of detailed planning shows the company your project management and task planning skills.
Work Out the Project Management Details
Your project narrative should include project management details such as who will oversee the project, who will work on the project and what kind of resources you will require. It’s important to include the credentials of the people involved to show why this team you’ve put together is the best choice for the company to complete the project. Also, provide examples of similar projects your team has completed in the past.
For example, in a construction narrative, be sure to list prior buildings on which you’ve worked that share a similar scope to the current project you’re proposing. Include the experience and specialty of each of your team members so that the company can see why they are the right people for the job.
Outline Evaluation and Long-Term Expectations
A project narrative needs to provide a guide for evaluating the successful completion of the project. How will you determine whether the project met the initial goals you set out to achieve? Include evaluation criteria such as cost and time in addition to expected results.
Be sure to specify long-term expectations for the company. What will the effects of the completed project be one, five and 10 years from now? Will the company save an increasing amount of money over time, or will it be able to optimize its operations going forward? Whenever possible, include examples supported by relevant data. If you worked on a similar project, show the results you were able to achieve in that scenario and show how it relates to this particular project.
- Rochester Institute of Technology: Writing a Successful Proposal
- The Researcher's Toolkit: Project Summary v. Project Narrative - Samples Included
- Project Management Institute. "Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, Eleventh Edition," Pages 300–306. Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.
- Indeed. "How Much Does a Project Manager Make in the United States?" Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.
- Project Management Institute. "Project Management Professional (PMP)®." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.
- International Project Management Association. "Certification Program Overview." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.
- American Management Association. "AMA Certified Professional in Management™." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.
- It is okay to have a little fun and give your narrative a voice.
- Do not flourish or exaggerate the facts. State them plainly and frankly.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.