6.2 Proposal definition
1. What is the nature, purpose and scope of the proposed change? What are its objectives? Are there any constraints to be taken into account?
2. What am I asking for – in terms of specific resources, permissions and so on?
3. What are the implications for the organisation beyond the scope of this particular proposal?
Defining the proposal is obviously an essential first step to any ‘making the case’ exercise. It is imperative that you are clear about exactly what it is you are proposing. For example, is your intention to run an exploratory pilot, or are you asking for approval to roll out the idea across the entire organisation? Trials are useful when the project is ultimately a large-scale one – they provide the opportunity to demonstrate benefits and to learn from experimentation. This helps ensure that when changes are made on a more widespread basis they take place with as little pain and as close to plan as possible. If you are asking for permission to do a trial, you need to define what the trial itself is designed to achieve and how it will inform any subsequent full-scale implementation. The scaleability of the costs of a trial needs to be considered. The trial itself might run as something of a ‘cottage industry’, with time and other resources ‘borrowed’ from other activities. But for full-scale implementation all the cost implications must be understood and accounted for.
The objectives for the proposal, including any particular constraints that apply, should be spelt out clearly, for example: ‘The objective of what is proposed is to improve process control so as to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in waste production in this process by the end of 2005. No disruption to scheduled production will be incurred.’
It is important to be very specific about what resources and other outcomes you are asking for from your audience. Typically these will include one or more of the following:
particular amounts of funding, at particular times
active support for, and help with, your project from at least some of your audience
permission to make the specified changes to buildings, equipment, working practices, and so on
permission to involve the relevant personnel, including secondment of some to your project team
formal approval to go ahead.
If it is a pilot-scale operation being proposed then your audience will wish to know what the implications of full-scale implementation are before they sanction a pilot. There is, after all, no point investing in a pilot without any real intention to follow it up if the results are favourable. Therefore your proposal needs to sketch out post-pilot stages of the project albeit there will be uncertainties pending the pilot results.