What are Proposal Forms?

Carol Francois

There are three types of proposal forms used in standard business operations: purchasing, project, and sales. All these forms perform the same basic function, providing users with a structured method for gathering the information required for decision making. The actual design of the proposal forms varies based on the actual business process followed in each organization. Many stationary companies provide form templates that can be a great place to start discussions within the firm or organization.

An equipment request proposal form is often used in centralized firms.
An equipment request proposal form is often used in centralized firms.

A purchasing proposal form is often used in large organizations to track purchase requests that exceed a specific dollar value or are part of a specific commodity type. There are two subtypes of procurement proposal forms: tendered projects and equipment requests. The detailed specifications of the project are included in the request for proposal. In many firms, proposal forms are used to provide the same structure to all tendering projects. This is very important, as any information provided to one party and not others provides an unfair advantage.

An equipment request proposal form is often used in centralized firms. The equipment user or department supervisor completes the form and submits it to the purchasing department. On the form, the user would provide his or her contact information, the detailed specification of the item required, the business rational, and the budget. Most proposal forms have signature boxes to ensure that all requests are properly reviewed and approved before submission to purchasing.

Many engineering or information technology firms have a centralized project management office. A project proposal form is used to manage requests from users, provide structure to the data collection, and ensure that all user requests have followed the same approval work flow. All projects must have a sponsor, impacted department, or business process. The project proposal forms include documentation of the business challenge and the desired end result of the project. Where possible, staff is expected to provide an estimated project cost, time line, and savings in efficiency or hard dollars.

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Sales proposal forms are used by business to business sales staff during the process of bidding. Included in a sales proposal form is the product description, cost, installation or service costs, and time line for delivery. The details provided on the sales proposal form the basis of evaluation by the customer. All relevant information must be included, so the client can compare the details of the sales offer to the other proposals that he or she has received.

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Discussion Comments


I am hoping to start a small business soon and I am trying to get all the documents I will need together. Does anyone know where I can find free contractor proposal forms? I have been able to find other business documents free online but not contractor proposal forms.


This article talks about proposal forms primarily in a business context but they are used in many other areas as well, particularly the arts. I have been a sculptor for 20 years and have submitted hundreds of various proposal forms to galleries, art institutions, grant givers and even private citizens looking to commission a piece.

A proposal form is simply a way of describing what you are going to do before you have any real means of showing it. In some cases I will not even include a sketch because the idea is still forming in my head.

It doesn't have to be complete, you just have to find a way to convince whoever you are communicating with that they should be excited about the work you are going to produce. Sometimes you emphasize your past, your ideas, your personality, anything you think can help you stand apart and create excitement about your art.

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