Checklist of Pre-Proposal Questions

In last week’s tip, I offered a list of questions you should ask before preparing a proposal for a client. (You can read those here.)

In response, a few readers added to that list:

From Nita:

Why is it important to you/or your business to realize this project/goal/object?  In other words, "What’s in it for you and what are the stakes?"

From Joy Zigo:

If it’s a big project and I would not be managing the entire project, [an important thing] is to ask about who else/what other professional functions they expect to have involved in the project. These could be other contractors, or they could be in-house people whom the client assumes will be involved, although I don’t know anything about these people.

From Heidi:

  • what is your ideal timeline?; realistic timeline?
  • how many revisions are you expecting? What constitutes a revision to you (the client)? (this one may be more of a designer question than a client one, but it’s come up A LOT in the process of client interaction)
  • what’s the intended life span of this project? Do you anticipate any additions, major revisions or upgrades in the next (x months or years?)

From Ron Perkins:

  1. Tell me how one of your most valuable customers might use this [product/web site/service]—to elicit a story about how they are thinking of their customers and what success is.  Often if you ask them about customers and success abstractly, you get demographics and numbers, not behavioral descriptions which I need for UI design.
  2. Do you have a budget in mind for this project? ( their answer tells you two important things: if it’s competitive and if they DO have one and tell you, it’s very helpful…)
  3. What determines when this project is done?  (a scoping question—I’ve seen some design firms get badly burned, working for nothing if they don’t get this clear as the client has one thing in mind and the firm may have another, this helps with clear deliverables…)

It’s often good to actually outline what the proposal will be right in the meeting, with the client, so that you can walk away and write it right afterwards…

Any others to add?