Concept Paper or Pre-Proposal
Statement of the problem •Statement of the solution •Brief statement of how the solution will benefit the reader(s) II. Background•Explanation of key terms •Proof that you know the issues surrounding the problem •Proof that you know what action has been taken to solve similar problems •Proof that you (or someone you are associated with) can carry out the action plan III. Action Plan and Requirements•A set of objectives (what your plan will accomplish) •An action plan (who will do what when) keyed to the objectives •A description of what you need to implement the plan A cost/benefit analysis of the plan IV.
Benefits•An explanation of why the plan will work •A set of outcomes keyed to the objectives •A description of how you and the reader(s) will benefit •Proof that you are the best person or team to carry out the action plan •A statement demonstrating that your plan is the best approach to solving the problem Ideas or Content Problem statement Since you will ask your reader(s) to give you something, you must first establish that there is a problem that needs to be solved. If you are responding to an agency’s Request for Proposals (RFP), the problem will be given to you.This is a solicited proposal. However, if you are requesting support or approval for your own idea (e. g. , a product design,technological innovation, and/or process), you must clearly state the problem and explain why you think it is a problem. This is an unsolicited proposal. A template for a statement of purpose/solution follows: The purpose of this concept paper is to request [approval or support] in the form of [ approval, equipment, funding, personnel, resources] to solve [description of a problem] so that [benefits of implementing the solution]. Sample purpose statements: The purpose of this concept paper is to request your approval to develop a technical proposal to request funding from the National Science Foundation to establish a chicken-cloning program at the University of Texas. •The purpose of this document is to convince you to provide the Residents’ Association with $2,000 to renovate the apartment complex’s existing tennis courts so that you can successfully fulfill your contractual agreement with residents and so that they can play tennis without having to needlessly chase errant balls. Background information 1.As in all technical documents, you must first identify your audience? n this case, your potential supporter(s). If you are responding to an RFP or other solicited proposal, you will know the agency or company you will be writing to, but may still need to research both the names of the people to whom the proposal should be addressed, as well as the funding history of the agency or organization. This will help you to: • narrow your research down to only those areas that will appeal to your reader(s) and • to formulate a plan the agency/organization will be likely to support.If you are submitting an unsolicited proposal, this research is even more important. There is lots of funding available, but much of it is targeted to very specific types of projects or types of respondents. For example, one philanthropic organization might support only those projects proposed by community organizations focused on prevention of substance abuse by teenagers. An organization I worked for once sent out an RFP to fund teacher-training projects proposed by groups of educators only.Individuals or groups with money to invest in new ideas may also have limits to the cash awards they offer. If your action plan can be accomplished with $5,000 or less, you may have more potential supporters than if your project requires $50,000 or even $5,000,000. 2. Conduct market or rhetorical research (analyze your context of use) to determine what evidence you might present that could convince the reader(s) to give you what you request. 3. Collect only that evidence that will convince your reader(s) to act. . Explain key terms and orient the reader to the problem. (Use internal citations when warranted. ) 5. Prove to the reader(s) that you have researched both the problem and its solution. 6. Explain why you and/or other reputable people think the problem is important. Clear solution/action plan While developing a clear solution may seem like an easy thing to do, it may actually be quite complicated. It may help you to develop categories equivalent to those that may later be required in the final proposal (e. . , objectives, rationale, personnel, management, timeline, products, budget, evaluation, guarantees of assurance, dissemination of results). While you will not be able to provide many details at this core document stage, you must have a clear idea of: •who will perform what actions (personnel and management), •how long it will take to achieve the solution (timeline), •how much it will cost (budget), and •what resources you will need (approval, funds, equipment, personnel, or other resources).Good proposals present strong links between the objectives of the plan (what you hope to accomplish), the activities that will allow you to accomplish those objectives, and the means by which you will determine how well your project is going. The methods of evaluation also link directly back to the objectives; this means that as you write an objective, you must make certain its degree of achievement can be measured. You might consider using a chart similar to that in Table 2 as a planning tool. In this example, the proposal is requesting approval and funds to carry out the specified action plan.Note that the objectives refer to the plan itself, not to reader support of the plan. Table 2. Sample Proposal Planning Chart ObjectivesAction PlanEvaluation (on-going and summative) •To develop a web site to successfully market the services of an engineering consulting firm 1. Form a project team that includes managers, researchers, graphic artists, technical writers, and web authors. 2. Conduct research on the audience that will be accessing the web site. 3. Conduct research on similar successful web sites. 4. Work with managers to determine the purpose and content of the web site. . Define”successful marketing”of the firm’s web site. 6. Develop a questionnaire to assess successful marketing. . . •Web site tally of the number of people accessing the site (hits) •Follow-up electronic questionnaire sent to those who contact the firm for services Needs/Requirements Clearly specify what you need from the reader(s) of your Concept Paper. You should have already stated in an introductory paragraph the specific action you want from your reader; now explain how you will use the support you request.For instance, if you request money, state how the funds will be used or distributed. The typical format for doing this is a formal budget statement. Table 3 shows a sample budget chart for the project described in Table 2. Table 3. Sample Budget Chart ExpenseRecipientSourceAmount (per year) Project Team SalariesTeam LeaderEngineering Firm$15,000 Graphic ArtistEngineering Firm$25,000 ResearcherEngineering Firm$5,000 Technical WriterEngineering Firm$25,000 Web expertEngineering Firm$5,000In this sample chart, all funds are expected to come from the engineering firm to which the proposal is being sent. However, your proposal may be more likely to be funded if you can show matching support from other sources (cost-share). This budget reflects only personnel and their projected salaries. * As you develop your chart, consider what other needs you might have. For example, in this project, the author might want to include costs of computers, printers, scanners, digital cameras, or other production equipment needed to develop the web site.