Project managers working with research and development are busy creating project ideas and applying for funding from various public sources. An important first step in the process is to pitch the idea to supervisors and potential partners. As casual conversations are not enough to persuade anyone, trimming down the proposal into a one-pager including only the essence is an effective call for action.
One-page project proposal
A one-pager is an outline of the project proposal and captures the key concepts in a way that is easy to communicate. The outline concentrates on the project’s basic idea and objectives, together with activities, outputs, outcomes and the impact.
Instead of relying on records, vague memories of conversation or notes, this document acts as a reference document that can be used throughout the project. On one hand, this document enables the project manager in determining the major facets of the project, thereby evaluating and implementing them in a much better way. On the other hand, it helps the audience focus on vital information in a ready to view and review format.
Some key components of a one-pager
First, after reading the call text of the funding instrument and brainstorming to produce a clear structure and outline, the writing should be relatively straightforward with no room for fluff. The content must be both convincing and concise. The constraints of one page require each phase to be carefully considered and each sentence to be actively supporting the pitch. A meticulously crafted one-pager is flexible, thus making room for necessary adjustments when needed.
Second, the project manager should outline the objectives in no more than 3-5 sentences in terms of what it seeks to achieve and the problems that it will address. A persuasive objectives-section concretely highlights the value proposition and how the project will bring about a change or otherwise improvement to the identified problems. This section should make it obvious for the reader to say ‘yes!’. The proposed objective must also be linked to the specific funding call targeted.
Third, the main activities and concrete outputs or deliverables of the project should also be clearly defined in a one-page proposal. Activities are specific actions to be performed to produce the project deliverables. When scheduled, the activities provide the foundation for estimating, resourcing, executing, monitoring and controlling the project work.
Fourth, the project manager should be as specific as possible and define indicators to measure the expected impacts of the project. A PESTLE and/or stakeholder analysis is often a good starting point to define expected impacts. Impact often happens on several levels: personal, organisational and institutional/societal.
With a one-page project proposal, the project is limited to the important attributes and presented on a single page. The brief layout addresses the project manager’s ability to think rationally and helps the supervisor’s decision-making in terms of whether or not the proposal is to proceed to the next phases of preparing the actual funding application. It is a very functional document that different stakeholders are able to absorb.
Working as a project specialist supporting haagahelian experts with project preparation, I have witnessed how crafting a compelling one-page project proposal is a vital skill to be mastered and embraced.