A firm writes external proposals to win contracts for work. Government agencies and large and small corporations issue a Request for Proposal (RFP), which explains the project and lists its specifications precisely. For example, a major aircraft company, such as British Airlines, often sends RFPs to several large firms to solicit proposals for a specific type of equipment, say, a guidance system. The RFP contains extremely detailed and comprehensive specifications, slating standards for minute technical items and pacifying the content, format, and deadline for the proposals.

Companies who receive the RFP write proposals to show how they will develop  the project. A team assembles a document that shows that the company has the managerial expertise, technical know-hew,’ and appropriate budget to develop the project. After receiving all the proposals, the firm that requested them turns them ov r to a team of elevators, some of whom helped write the original specifications. The elevators rate the proposals, judging the technical, management, and cost sections in order to select the best overall proposal.  Not all proposals are written to obtain commercial contracts. Proposals are also commonly written by state and local governments, public agencies, education, and industry. University professors often write proposals, bringing millions of dollars to campuses to support research in fields as varied as food spoilage and genetic research. Discussion  f a lengthy, 50- to 200-page- proposal is beyond the scope of this book; it is a subject for an entire course. But brief external proposals are very common. They require the same planning and contain the Same elements as a lengthy proposal. This section will illustrate the planning and elements of an external proposal.