Project Outline Template

by Kishan Tambralli

Project Outline Template

A Project Outline document is used to pitch an idea for a project, usually to its sponsors and main stakeholders. While each project is unique, the structure of the project outline template is more or less the same and includes the main criteria of a project. The document should be limited to 2 pages, and the language needs to be clear and concise, with limited jargon.

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Project Outline Template

Structure of Project Outline Template

The outline's primary purpose is to convince someone to approve a project while presenting the high-level scope and objectives.

The main criteria of the document are –

Project Details: 

This section presents the main details of the proposition: The name of the project, its due dates, and the project manager’s name.

Project Description:
Explain what the current situation is, how the suggested project will solve or alleviate the problem, and mention any precedents which are relevant to this project.

Project Objectives:
This section explains how the project will solve the problem or exploit an opportunity mentioned in the “Project Context” paragraph (#2 above).

Project Cost:
Explain what the project will need in order to successfully deliver on time, on budget, and in high quality. The main requirements are –

  • Budget (Labour & Consulting)
  • Materials
  • Goods

Projected Return:
This section details two essential attributes of the project –

  • Cost Savings: How much will be saved by the proposed project.
  • Increased Revenues: How much revenue will be generated if the project is successful.

This section should contain any and all documents which strengthen the proposal and allow for further reading if the stakeholders want to deep dive into the more technical issues of the project. The appendix can break the “no more than two pages” rule but shouldn’t exceed the 10-page limit. Try to insert as many links to websites as possible, as opposed to actual written material.

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Outline Template

Best Practices of Project Outline

The following suggestions will assist in preparing a solid project outline, which will increase the chances of the project being approved – 

Gantt chart: It is a good idea to prepare a high-level Gantt before writing the project outline, with resources, predecessors, and due dates. This will assist incorrectly calculating the requirements (#3 above) associated with the project. The Gantt can then be used to prepare a more detailed work plan (if the project is approved)

Know your audience: Try to get into the heads of the people who will receive the proposal to understand what is important to them. Speaking in a language that they understand will increase the chances they will approve the project.

Risk plan: Preparing a risk matrix will also assist in addressing any inhibitors, mainly so that the stakeholders know that you are aware of them. The risk matrix shouldn’t be a part of the proposal but can be used as an initial matrix at the beginning of the project.

Submittal process: Treat the submittal process as a project, with due dates, tasks, owners of these tasks, and expected outcome.

A picture is worth 1,000 words: Use images or visual material as a part of the Appendix whenever possible.