Project Proposal

Project Information

Project Time-frame: START-DATE to END-DATE
Attached Worksheets:
Project proposal > Target audience and benefits
Related Documents:
Process impact: This proposal, along with drafts of related documents, will be used by management to determine whether or not to authorize work on this project. A clear and precise project plan helps set expectations that will be used later to evaluate the success of the project.

Background and Motivation

TODO: Replace the example text below with text that describes your project. Define the problem and justify the need before proposing a solution. Remember to focus on business problems, rather than technical problems.
What is the setting and history behind this project?
E-commerce websites are becoming essential as more consumers expect to be able to shop on-line. We have been setting up individual e-commerce websites for the past four years. It is still usually a manual process that is being repeated over and over. Now we feel that we have a core engine that provides a complete set of the features that consumers expect, and that could be licensed as a software product.
Stock trading applications have been available for years. These applications have provided the basic stock quote and trading features that enabled active investors to manage their own portfolios. These non-professionals need easier access to more information to help their decision-making.
What business problem does this project address?
There is a need for businesses to set up their own on-line store as rapidly and easily as possible. Virtually every business has customers that prefer to purchase on-line, but few businesses have the expertise or time to create an e-commerce site themselves. Custom-coded e-commerce sites also usually lack the advanced features found on big shopping sites, and may contain defects and security holes.
Active investors need constant awareness of market conditions and the state of their stock portfolio. Decisions to trade stocks are based on company financial data, company news, industry news, economic indicators, and simulation models. It is difficult for people to gather and consider all of the needed information when working under time pressure.
What are some current approaches to this problem?
Businesses can currently do one of the following:
  • Set up their own e-commerce site
  • Pay a consult to set-up an e-commerce site
  • Sell their products through distributors that have e-commerce sites
Active investors can currently do one of the following:
  • Spend significant time doing their own research by gathering news and data from several sources. Meanwhile, the market opportunity may pass by.
  • Pay an investment adviser who divides their time between many clients
  • Fail to understand market data and make trades with unknown risk
POTENTIAL-CUSTOMERS can currently do one of the following:
  • USE-A-COMPETING-PRODUCT, described in the target audience and benefits document.
Why is this problem worth solving or worth solving better?
An e-commerce engine that had all the features that consumers expect will help increase sales. E.g., consumer-written product ratings and reviews help make consumers more comfortable with their purchase decisions, and help reduce returns, while also reducing the number of calls made to customer support. That increases revenues and decreases costs.
Private investors stand to make or lose a lot of money depending on the quality of their trading decisions. Better decisions lead directly to better investment returns.
How will this product be better than previous approaches?
We add innovative new features. These new features are based on our unique experience in this market and are currently not offered by competitors.
Our system will have similar functionality, but it will have much better maintainability, scalability, and security.
Our system will have similar functionality, but it is specifically aimed at a market segment that is not served by competing products.
This is a "me-too" product that will go head-to-head with very similar competing products in the same market. The market is large enough that we can be very happy with a share of it. Our unique competitive advantages are in non-product functions of our business such as sales, marketing, partnerships, support, and training. The product will have some simple built-in "hooks" that leverage those advantages.
Where is there more information on this problem?
The following pages provide additional background and motivation:


TIP: Answers in this section should be relatively short because you can refer to concepts described above.
What is the goal of this project?
This project will produce an e-commerce website engine that is widely reusable by small- to medium-sized businesses, full featured, and easy to use and administer. Our customers will be able to set up their own e-commerce site that looks like the big, popular shopping sites.
We will build a completely new stock trading application with novel features to help traders make better decisions. In addition to all the standard features that users expect, we will add powerful visualization, simulation, and news aggregation features. We expect that our application will become the preferred trading platform for high-net-worth private U.S. investors who trade more than ten different stocks per week.
What are the defining features and benefits of this product?
Reusable e-commerce website engine with advanced functionality, including: user accounts, product ratings, reviews, wish-list, affiliate programs, order tracking, easy reordering, and specialized reports for department managers.
All the expected stock trading features plus stock trade decision-support features, including: news aggregation, stock performance visualization, portfolio distribution visualization, market trend visualization, macro-economic indicators, what-if stock market simulation, simulation results visualization.
Where are other documents that further explain the goal of this project?


TODO: Reuse sample text below to write clear statement of the scope of your project. What are the high-level things that you plan to do, and that you will not do? What are your important simplifying assumptions? Try to guard against reasonable misunderstandings that might arise if you did not explain the scope. It can take the form of a paragraph, bullet list, in-out list, and/or UML context diagram.

We want to focus on the features provided by the application engine, user interface, security, performance, and management reports. We will explicitly not focus on international trade or compatibility with legacy systems.

See the context diagram.

  • In Scope:
    • Working with the most popular servers and browsers
    • Basic end-user personalization
    • Enough security to greatly discourage fraud and abuse
    • Tracking of in-house order processing and shipping
    • Simple integration with our own ERP and CRM systems
  • Out of Scope:
    • Working with outdated or uncommon browsers
    • Advanced personalization, e.g., dynamic pricing
    • Detailed tracking of orders redirected to partners
    • Integration with partner ERP and CRM systems
In Scope Out of Scope
Building a web application for use with standard web servers and application servers Building a new web server or application server
Working the most popular browsers (IE6, NN7/Mozilla) Working with uncommon or outdated browsers
Security in the form of user accounts, passwords, and permissions Special security against hackers. Searching for security holes in existing software components.
One sample look-and-feel and instructions for customization Our own high-quality look-and-feel. A library of look-and-feel options.
Database and server load and data volume that can be handled by one computer. Managing a cluster of servers.
Keeping track of customer web traffic patterns Tracking individual user activity on the site and automatically producing personalized pages
Displaying advertisements to visitors. Billing advertisers for impressions. Automatically selecting ads that fit the visitor's interests. On-line management of advertising or real-time reporting to advertisers. Participating in existing banner advertising affiliate networks.


TODO: Briefly list project deliverables. When you are done, what will you deliver to the customer? This is described in more detail in the project plan.
  • E-commerce website engine software
  • Software installers on each supported platform
  • Quick-start guide with sample initial site data
  • Sample look-and-feel and customization guide
  • On-line help for administrators and end users
  • Training course materials for administrators
  • Utilities to import and/or upgrade database
  • Command-line advertising configuration tool and report generator
  • Localization and customization guide for our system integrators and partners

Risks and Rewards

TODO: Briefly list and rank major risks. Risks are detailed in the draft risk management worksheet. For this proposal, you should select the most important risks and explain them in non-technical terms.
What are the main risks of this project?
  1. There is a potential conflict between our goals of a providing leading-edge functionality, easy customization, and wide-spread applicability. We already have a early design draft that gives us several options along the trade-off curve. We will review it with product marketing to set priorities.
  2. There are significant technical difficulties in this product. This will be a risk because only one person on our team has much experience with SPECIFIC-TOOL and SPECIFIC-TECHNOLOGY. We will address this risk by scoping and scheduling the project to leave enough time for training and reviews.
  3. The schedule for this project is very short. We will manage this by planning a conservatively scoped functional core and series of functional enhancements that can be individually slipped to later releases if needed.
What are the main rewards if this project succeeds?
If we successfully roll out this product, we will immediately be able to use it for our own in-house and partner projects.
In the 12 months after roll-out, we expect to gain significant license and services revenue from existing customers and new customers.
PROJECT-NAME will allow us to phase out LEGACY-SYSTEM and improve our existing BUSINESS-PROCESS, resulting in a direct cost savings.
The success of this project will greatly improve the chances that ANOTHER-PROJECT will meet its feature, quality, and schedule goals.
This project has some clear direct benefits, but it is a journey as much as it is a destination. Significant indirect benefits include our increased experience with this market segment, product type, development method, development tools, technology, management technique, and partner organization.

Project Plan

See attached draft of project plan and resource needs.

TODO: Check for words of wisdom for additional advice on this template.
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