WRITING TO WIN: THE INTERNAL PROPOSAL
by Royce Murcherson
WHAT TYPE OF PROPOSAL SHOULD YOU EXPECT TO WRITE? Generally, large companies or corporations have entire departments staffed with professional proposal writers to write formal proposals. You should expect to write an informal internal proposal.
WHAT IS IT EXACTLY? What’s a proposal? They come in various shapes and sizes. They can be either solicited or unsolicited. They can be as short as an email and as long as a ten page document. They are always persuasive in nature. In short, proposals are arguments.
Internal Proposal – The purpose of an internal proposal will be to persuade your boss or supervisor to:
- Change a process
- Solve a problem
- Purchase products, services or pursue activities
- Conduct research or make changes in policies
The message will always be persuasive, fact based, and verifiable. The benefit can come in the form of improvements in productivity and profitability and will likely contribute to another accomplishment line on your resume.
- The Unsolicited Internal Proposal – These are proposals that have not been requested by a manager. These types of proposals are opportunities to cast you as a proactive, forward thinking employee. This is your time to boost your image. For example, suppose you realize that the office network’s current operations system slows down the production of sales orders. Changing operating systems would increase productivity. You write a memo describing what is going on, what you want to do, why you want to do it, what it will cost and what will be the overall benefit. This is an unsolicited internal proposal is a means to sell your creative ideas.
- A Solicited Internal Proposal – These are proposals are requested by a manager or supervisor. There may not be a need for you come up with ‘the answer’ or solve the problem. Your boss may have already provided the solution and simply requests you measure its viability. This is still an opportunity for you to gain some good exposure because you will have to use your critical thinking skills and make a recommendation.
WRITING A PROPOSAL FOR WORK
First, do not expect to write formal proposals unless you have been hired specifically to serve on a proposal team. These proposals are comprehensive, well researched documents that can be ten or more pages. Corporations have entire departments staffed with professional proposal writers to create these.
The type of proposal you more than likely find yourself writing will be an internal unsolicited proposal discussed earlier. It will be in the form of a medium length email or a memo. Remember, this informal proposal does not have to be written on the level of a formal proposal written by professional proposal writer. It should not exceed more than two pages if presented as a memo, and no more than a six paragraph email.
EXPECT IT TO BE PERSUASIVE It will need to convince your manager or supervisor that your ideas will work. In a nutshell, the benefits produced will far outweigh the costs of implementation. Your manager will need to believe that:
- You fully understand the organization’s mission: productive, profitable, and innovative
- You fully understand the organization’s operations
- You fully understand the necessity of the proposal
- You know the solution
- You know how to implement the solution
For a more expanded discussion on writing and formatting internal proposals using the Toulmin Model of Argumentation in business writing, see my book:
Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013
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