Thoroughly explain the time and cost requirements for each step in the methodology, based on your calculations.

Description: A 3-5 page professionally-written proposal to a former boss with a plan to address a business-related problem. Proposals take many forms, but generally they describe a problem/identify a need/opportunity; recommend a solution/response; and provide a plan for implementation. (Some suggest several potential solutions/responses and recommend one over the others.)
While many proposals are formal documents authored by consulting companies and used to persuade other organizations to retain their services, less formal proposals, particularly those made by one employee to another inside an organization, abound daily. There are many activities that we may propose others in our organization do in response to a perceived need or problem. For example:
You could propose your company adopt new technology or conduct research on the customer base.
Perhaps you believe they should explore the capacity for growth in a certain market sector.
Perhaps you would like to propose they develop a new product.
You could propose an employee policy regarding absences/leave or suggest alternatives to scheduling, hiring or training.
You might have suggestions to curb theft.
You may have ideas on how to make a process more effective or efficient.
There are limitless problems you may encounter. But there are some very specific and important approaches to formulating your proposal so that it is persuasive and taken seriously by decision-makers. Toward that end, include the following in your proposal.
Make sure your Proposal Contains the following:
A. Current Situation. Introduce the problem to your boss(es). Explain/describe what motivated you to consider the phenomena to be problematic. Provide enough background information to enable a reader who is unfamiliar with the situation to understand the issue, including the negative consequences that this problem incurs. Consider who, what, where, and when to determine if you have provided adequate description of the problem.
B. Goals. Clearly explain the goals of your proposal. This will entail describing the positive consequences from addressing the situation. Frame them in terms of your audience’s goals, not your own. (E.g. If your boss doesn’t care about making computer repair service calls shorter but wants to reduce call-backs from 15% to 3%, then frame the recommendations mainly in these terms, even if your recommendations will improve both time-to-repair and reduce call-backs.)
C. Proposed Methodology (“Implementation Plan”; “Schedule of Events”). Describe how you would improve the problem through a set of recommended steps to lead the organization to meeting their goals. (Remember to frame the recommendations in terms of your audience’s (i.e. bosses’) goals, not yours. See above.) Consider who, what, when, and where for these recommended steps and describe why these changes should be made. Account for Equipment, Facilities, Financial and Other Costs (e.g. disruptions in service during renovation), and Personnel.
D. Time and cost. Thoroughly explain the time and cost requirements for each step in the methodology, based on your calculations. (In consultants’ business proposals, this section would also specify how you would be billing the client, and when payment would be expected.)
E. Qualifications. In a consultant’s business proposal, this would include a section fully describing why your company is best for this job, information based on your competitive strengths and on the proposal’s evaluation criteria. However, for this assignment you are an internal employee, you will want to remind your boss about your length of employment and your accomplishments while you are there. Just as you did for cover letters and resumes, you can describe your aptitudes and experiences (e.g. formal coursework in business or customer service experience) then provide supporting evidence for how this makes you qualified to evaluate the situation and recommend solutions. For instance, you might say that in your formal coursework at VCU, you learned how to evaluate social marketing campaigns and this enables you to see untapped opportunities in your present organization. As with cover letters, qualifications might include factors such as passion for improving the situation, willingness to commit extra effort to solving the problem, or ability to motivate others to assist with making changes to address the problem.
F. Benefits. Discuss the benefits the organization will receive by implementing your recommendations. Be sure to TRANSLATE “consequences” into “benefits.” In other words, “connect the dots” here; don’t presume these links are obvious in a reader’s mind! Be sure you also connect the dots between the goal your proposed improvement will fulfill and the overall goals of the company (e.g. if you propose to reduce meal prep time in the restaurant’s kitchen, describe how this would enable wait staff to give customers hotter, fresher meals and quicker service, AND that this in turn would increase customer satisfaction).
E. Brief Conclusion. Recap the problem and your recommendations. As with a cover letter, end with a “call to action”: tell your boss you would like to set up a meeting and discuss your ideas.
You can organization these elements the way that best serves the problem and your audience. For example, you might choose to add subheadings as you see fit. However, make sure the organization functions to impart information and persuade your unique audience.

Rubric, Business Improvement Proposal Instructor, Laural Adams
Traits Strong Okay Weak
(e.g. uses formal business discourse related to the industry in which the business operates; demonstrates focus of purpose in evaluating problem and providing detailed recommendations to improve/address it; frames problem and benefits of addressing it in terms that appeal to the audience (i.e. what your boss values, not you); depicts personal engagement with and commitment to solving the problem (“pathos”))

Clear sense of audience and purpose. Audience and purpose are present but could be stronger Audience and purpose are less clear, and weak parts remain
& content
(e.g. paper includes sections that are identified and used to serve a specific informational purpose; arguments are not lists of reasons but a cohesive discussion; employs an introduction with a thesis and forecast of the problem, solution, and benefits; uses transitions from one section to another; proposal builds an argument as the paper progresses; includes a conclusion that restates the main points Organization of paper is clear. Each major section contributes to the overarching argument; the author has made this clear by tying recommendations and assertions back to the main argument (thesis) during the course of the paper (i.e. this is a problem and it can be addressed).
Organization is mostly clear. Most major sections contribute to the overall argument, but author is less consistent at connecting assertions to the overarching argument. Organization is confusing. Major sections are missing or are not tied back to the overarching argument. Description and detail seem present but do not support a coherent point.
(e.g. Provides well-articulated, detailed recommendations to improve business; accounts for limitations & constraints realistically; retains tone of authority and objectivity) Paper is richly detailed and culminates in a convincing argument. Paper culminates in an argument but is less convincing than it could be. Some inconsistencies in sections remain. Paper does not culminate in a convincing argument. Lacks detail and coherence. Several weaknesses need attention or revision
Grammar & mechanics
(e.g. 12 point font, 3 pages (5 for Honors), standard memo format, grammatically correct and free of typos, subheadings used consistently, etc.) Writer follows all guidelines for spelling, grammar, usage, mechanics, etc. Wording is strong and sentences have a varied structure/syntax employing a formal tone; meets basic formatting requirements for intra-organizational memos Writer follows most guidelines, but wording in some sections is unclear, uneven, informal in tone, or contains errors, leaving some passages difficult to understand. Some basic formatting requirements are not met. Writer follows some guidelines, but wording in many sections is unclear, uneven, informal in tone, or contains errors, leaving the paper generally difficult to understand. Basic formatting requirements are not met.

Other Tips:
Your proposal must convince readers that you are worthy of their trust.
Demonstrate your integrity and experience by referring to your own credentials and capabilities but also to company history.
Communicate the advantages and benefits of your proposal through the straightforward language of opportunities and benefits.
Clearly and concisely define scope and expectations in your proposal through use of Goals, Objectives, and Expected Results, but privilege those your audience values most highly.
Satisfy the specific constraints of the situation, meaning your proposal must be realistic given the organization’s constraints (time, money, space, legal issues, etc.)
Highlight your (or the organization’s) ability to complete the proposed project by detailing how and by whom the work will be accomplished (Project Plan, Implementation Plan, Schedule of Events, etc.)
Demonstrate your understanding of the more complex aspects of the project by providing thorough background and assessment of the problem’s causes, as well as the constraints the organization faces.
Establish and solidify your reputation by describing similar projects you have finished and recommendations/testimonials received from satisfied clients and partners.
Demonstrate your accountability capabilities by including specific timelines and cost factors in your proposal, as well as how those would be monitored and recorded.
Draft a professional and convincing cover letter for your proposal that clearly and succinctly introduces and summarizes your offering. Add a personal touch by requesting a face-to-face meeting to present your proposal.
Above all, be polite and show your respect in your Proposal Letter by thanking decision-makers in advance for their time and consideration and inviting their questions and feedback on your proposal.
Checklist for BIP:
Dr. Laural Adams
(Yellow highlight: critical for a well-organized proposal; Red text: a common oversight on this type of assignment)
___Include formal memo components (See page 330 figure 3 Proposal in Memo Format). Single spaced.
___Establish/maintain rapport with recipient through a “buffer.” (See page 255 figure 4 on Buffer Types: agreement; appreciation; compliment; facts; general principle; good news; understanding).
___Segue to the problem (often with a rhetorical signal such as “However, ….”.
___Describe the problem with enough background, given your boss’ background knowledge. (Since I don’t know what your boss knows, you will need to be able to explain to me your rational for this choice).
___Describe the problem with clarity (complex problems are “unpacked” so that dynamics between certain phenomena are easy to follow).
___Describe the problem without blaming anyone with a tone of hostility or finger-pointing. In contrast, use passive construction (“mistakes were made”) or frame problems in terms of the limitations/constraints the actors faced (in other words, their responsibility is mitigated or lessened because they lacked something, perhaps time, training, supervision, etc., so that it reads that there were other factors to blame).
___End with a thesis (there is/are solution(s) to the problem) and forecast (preview of the order/organization in which you will be discussing the solution(s) & steps for implementation).
___Be sure the forecast reflects the organization of your proposal (in other words, your preview of the discussion matches your actual discussion):
E.g. I suggest we address this problem by _____, and below I outline five steps for doing so.
E.g. I believe there are 3 potential solutions to this problem. In the remainder of this memo, I assess the costs and benefits of each, and recommend the most feasible one. I then provide a brief overview of a plan for implementing the solution.
___Establish your credibility (early credibility may be established with a tone of expertise, confidence and respect for some boss’; for others, it may be necessary to more formally present qualifications that enable you to understand the problem and recommend solutions).
___Assert the significance of the problem to the organization/boss.
___Assert the benefits of addressing the problem for the organization/boss (this does NOT have to be a bulleted list!).
___Where relevant, provide more depth to the problem, organizing information logically and coherently. Ask yourself: who, what, when where, and why to evaluate whether you have described the problem fully for your audience.
___Where appropriate, use research to back up your assertions by quoting or paraphrasing (See page 330 figure 3 for using footnotes to cite sources).
___Include others’ opinions and experiences (testimonials) to help support your assertions where appropriate (e.g. the night crew has confirmed the reports that ….).
___Provide quantitative estimates of the benefits of addressing the problem where feasible (e.g. cost savings, increased sales, etc.). Make reasonably informed estimates of these benefits. (For benefits that do not lend themselves to quantitative measures, link the benefits to the overall well-being of the company.)
___Provide quantitative estimates of costs of the problem or solution where feasible (make sure you do your research! Important: look up costs of services and products you recommend on the internet! If you don’t have information on hand that you need in order to calculate for resources, come up with reasonable estimates e.g. 2 additional employees at $10.00/hour for 10 additional shifts means the increased wages for these employees will amount to ___).
___Anticipate and calculate for hidden factors! (Who will hire these individuals, how much time will it take, and how much does this person make per hour? Who will train these new hires? How much time will it take and how much do they make per hour?)
___When necessary, present quantitative information in easy-to-read ways (tables, lists, graphs, etc.).
Uses headings and bullets that add to the discussion and reflect the forecast (preview).
___Recognize the limitations of your solution (or constraints, characteristics of the situation that can’t be changed).
___Anticipate resistance (objections) to your proposal and present counterarguments (argue that the benefits of your solution outweigh costs).
___Account for resources, such as facilities, time, or expertise required.
___Argue that the benefits of your solution outweigh costs) Anticipate and calculate for hidden resource requirements!
___Include realistic steps for implementation, answering who, what, when, and where for each task, and also providing a time-table when possible.
___Restate (but don’t repeat!) the thesis and the solution.
___Mention the most salient points again (the significance of the problem? Certain urgent details related to the implementation plan? This will be context specific).
___Remind your boss that the benefits outweigh the costs.
___Remind your boss what the organization/boss stands to gain.
___End with a “call to action”— e.g. ask for a meeting to discuss the ideas.
___Include an appropriate closing salutation (not “Best”, as your audience for a grade (i.e. this teacher) dislikes it!).
Make sure you have also included:
___The experiences and education that make you qualified to pass judgment on the problem and recommend a solution. (This is NOT a separate section! Put it where it makes sense to you.)
___Evidence that you are committed to helping with the solution.
___A tone of objectivity and rationality, in contrast to hostility or blame.
___A formal tone in contrast to an informal conversational tone.
___Transitions between sections to signal a change in discussion, even when they are separated by headings or subheadings.
___Topic sentences at the start of new sections to signal changes in discussion (to tell the reader what you’re are going to discuss next).

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