Proposals and Workplans and Reports – Oh MY!

Just like Dorothy wandering through the scary forest with her compatriots frightened by the very thought of “lions and tigers and bears OH MY,” people are often overwhelmed by the trio of proposals, work plans, and reports.

These three documents serve different purposes of the project process, depending on the project’s complexity and organizational culture.



Proposals are recommendations for a change.

Whether it’s a new product idea or a suggestion for revising an HR policy, in essence, you are recommending that your organization do something new or something differently than how it operates today. Proposals – no matter how informal – kickstart the change process.



Workplans detail how the proposal is going to be accomplished, identifying the goals, timelines, tasks, deliverables, resources, constraints, and who will be involved in the project. A well-written work plan enables a project manager to oversee the big picture while managing smaller project components.

While small projects might have rather simplistic “plans” that might be little more than a task list with dates, deliverables and owners, major projects can become far more complex, stretching across months – even years.



Think about the old public speaking guideline: tell them what you’re going to tell them (introduction), then tell them (the body of the speech) followed by what you’ve told them (the conclusion).

Similar to this adage, proposals tell the audience – such as the executive team –what your idea is; workplans tell the reader how the project will be accomplished. Reports can provide a status update – such as what you’ve done, or as a final report once the project is done.


Remember: While very different documents serving different purposes, proposals, workplans and reports are interconnected. Make your way down your own yellow brick road by ensuring your versions of these three documents interrelate and support your overall goal.


Want to learn more about writing better documents or plans? Check out our books (Amazon) and courses.

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