In this second assignment that builds toward the proposal, write a 1.5-page, single-spaced memo that describes a plan to solve the problem that you described in the first assignment. A good plan needs five elements, and I recommend you organize the memo accordingly:

  • Restate the problem briefly (What      is the problem?)
  • State clearly what the plan is      (What is the plan?)
  • Give a rationale for the plan (Why      is this plan the right one?)
  • Provide a schedule (How is this      plan going to be implemented?)
  • Provide a budget (How much is it      going to cost?)

I do not expect any of these questions to be completely answered in this preliminary plan (save the nature of the problem), but you should have a tentative answer for each that can be fully developed in the complete proposal.

Your rationale for your plan, the third bullet point, is best developed by comparing your plan to other alternatives. Perhaps your plan is truly cheaper, faster, more efficient, more environmentally friendly, morally superior, or much more aesthetically pleasing, but you need to make a strong argument that it is one or more of these. Otherwise, there are no reasons to favor your solution over any other proposed solution.

Your plan’s schedule should include not only dates by which goals will be met, but what is being brought to bear in terms of manpower (who’s on the team?) and resources (tools, office supplies, rented equipment). In other words, what all needs to happen for your plan to work? What happens if it fails? Is there is a backup plan?

The plan’s budget should be itemized. Break down the costs. If you don’t know the exact number, provide an estimate (and be clear when you are making an estimate). Also, it should be clear what happens if you go over or below budget.

If you find yourself stuck when drafting, try thinking in this way: if you were the person that had to decide whether or not to fund the plan, what questions would you ask, and what kind of answers would you want to hear, i.e., how much is this going to cost, when will it be done, how is this plan better than the other one I was considering, is this the best of all possible solutions, and who’s working on this? Answer those questions well, and you will be on your way toward a convincing proposal.