An informal proposal is the first step in a project. Essentially, its purpose is to give the project's broad-based objectives and lay out some steps as to how it will achieve those objectives. By establishing what the project is, what the project will do and how it will do it, it can start the process toward funding, staff allocation and other formal project management procedures.
Statement of Need
A contractor's informal proposal to build a bridge should start with a statement of need. The contractor opens his proposal by stating what the developer needs. He establishes not just that he needs a bridge but what kind of bridge he needs. This statement of need will be in line with the project's objectives and methodologies.
In this case, the developer needs a bridge that will stretch across a 400-yard river and handle two lanes of traffic. This bridge needs to be completed within two years, as that is when the existing bridge will no longer be usable.
Goals and Objectives
The contractor goes on to state broad-based yet specific goals. In this case, the goal is to build a bridge that meets the needs stated above in 15 months. With established goals, the contractor sets specific objectives with milestones that will meet those goals. In this case, the bridge's design will be completed in three months; preliminary construction will begin immediately after this, with planning, hiring staff and leasing equipment.
Goals will have certain criteria. For example, the proposal should define "preliminary construction" and set a specific date will be set for when it is to start.
The informal proposal goes on to specifically state implications. The contractor will point out why he should be hired and how his bridge will be valuable. In this case, he points to his track record of bridges he built in the past, all of which he completed ahead of schedule and stood the test of time.
Plan of Action
Finally, the informal proposal states a plan of action. The contractor writes how he will accomplish the goals established above. For the goal of having the bridge designed in three months, he will write that he already has an architect in mind who is available and has a record of designing projects like this in three months or less.
The contractor will go on to relate each goal to a specific plan in order to show how he is the best contractor for the job.