The different types of proposal format used depends on the industry and its unique requirements. There are four general formats that are used when creating a business proposal: quotation for services, response to request for proposal, business services proposal, and construction proposal. These different proposal formats are designed to provide a structure for firms who want to be considered for a specific contract. The formats are not regulated, and so may vary slightly by firm, based on their requirements.
The initial proposal format is provided by the potential client, who issued the request for proposal (RFP). This document is used to provide detailed specifications to a wide range of suppliers. It is the responsibility of the supplier to review the RFP, determine if it is able to meet the client’s requirements, and prepare a response. All proposals and responses are in writing, and form part of the legal contract agreement between a supplier and a customer.
Quotation for services includes the background of the services firm, a detailed response to the RFP document. Included in this document is an itemized list of the services the firm can provide, and any services that would be provided by a subcontractor. Typically, service proposals include a section on current service requirements, ongoing service contract, and the service level agreement (SLA). Detailed in the SLA is a list of the exact services to be provided and at what level of expertise. Available dates of resources, copies of resumes, client testimonials, and references are also common in this type of proposal format.
A response to RFP proposal format is typically dictated by the RFP itself. The detailed section of the response must be formatted to match the actual RFP. The purpose of this type of formatting is to ensure that the clients can easily compare their request to the response, noting any discrepancies or questions on an itemized basis.
Business services proposal format is more typical of a sales presentation. It is not unusual for the proposal to be a combination of meetings and written response. Service brochures, general overviews, and referrals from prior clients form the primary material in this format. It is important to note that pricing and delivery details are usually negotiable items, with multiple iterations required before a final contract is prepared.
Construction proposals are very detailed documents, and always include blueprints, specification documents, and itemized time lines. In addition to this level of detail, there is often an artist's rendering of the proposed product, or a three-dimensional model to help the clients visualize the end result.