Freelance Fridays: Writing a Technical Proposal


Writing a technical proposal doesn’t have to be scary. Photo via


Writing a technical proposal is on my agenda this week.

It’s yet another of those slightly frightening phrases to the uninitiated, and when ye olde Google returns responses very much like this in answer to the query, “What is a technical proposal?” it gets even more confusing to determine what clients want.

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Relax. Completing a technical proposal is time-consuming work, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. A technical proposal explains how your project, or your client’s project, is going to function. That’s it in a nutshell. You’re detailing the operational game plan.

Here’s what you have to do.

Understand how the project will be implemented. What tasks need to be completed, and in what order? Who is responsible for each item? What locations will be involved for each task? Know what must be done and the specifications the work needs to meet. Have a prospective start-to-completion timeline in mind.

Know who is involved. This may include colleagues, contractors, subs, sister or parent companies, and other outside partners. You

will need names, contact information, and any related details requested in the proposal solicitation.

Gather information about managers’ capabilities. What relevant education and professional training do key personnel already have? What specialized equipment, if any is needed, is available to complete the project? Is anyone prepared to give references or testimonials? Are there similar completed projects in the client’s portfolio?

Present your client’s unique strengths. Why should these people be the ones to complete the project? What are they especially good at doing? What makes them stand out in the marketplace? If the proposal solicitation gives extra weight to bonus criteria, does your client meet any of them?

Follow formatting requirements. Does the solicitation committee want hard copy? Then you’d better make hard copies. Do they want everything in triplicate? Make friends with your photocopier. If you’re given an outline, follow it item by item in drafting your proposal; if not, study the solicitation as presented and draft an outline to format your proposal before you start. Formatting restrictions are there to streamline the process for everyone who is going to read your final draft. Now is not the time to throw the rulebook out the window.

Writing a technical proposal is challenging work, but it’s a reasonably straightforward process as long as you can keep its purpose in mind. The proposal is an argument for what you want to do and a guideline for how you intend to do it. Don’t clutter it up with information that nobody asked for, and don’t try to get cutesy or creative with your formatting. Do answer all of the questions.

What issues have you encountered when writing technical proposals?

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