- IT Project Proposals: Writing to Win
I have to admit to ulterior motives for wanting to review Paul Coombs's IT Project Proposals: Writing to Win: I am in the midst of co-writing several grants with a computer engineering focus, and, frankly, as an arts and humanities scholar I wanted to know what project proposals for information technology look like, even though a member of the grant-writing team specializes in that area.
While the book leans heavily on business project proposals rather than academic grant proposals, I learned a great deal from it. Aimed at novices, the language is clear and precise, and the book takes the reader from the beginning of the proposal writing process to the end. Numerous diagrams and tables help the reader visualize the process. Two "Case Studies" found in the Appendix test readers on what they learned about proposal writing and a "Proposal Evaluation Questionnaire" allows readers to rate their own proposals later. Strangely missing from an otherwise flawless presentation, however, is an example of a proposal written from start to finish. An artifact like that would be priceless for novices to see.
What I found most extraordinary about the book is its emphasis on writing. From Chapter 1 ("Does Good Writing Matter?") to Chapter 2 (" The Art of Persuasion," "Knowing the Reader") to Chapter 5 ("Tightening up the Text") to Chapters 6 and 7 ("Obeying the Grammar Rules" and "Obeying the Punctuation Rules," respectively), the book's message fixes as much on good writing and communicating as it does on strategy (Chapter 2), content (Chapter 3), and structure (Chapter 4). The literature and rhetoric scholar in me was deeply satisfied in knowing that what I know has value outside of my classroom. How many computer majors have my colleagues and I tried to convince that core requirements in English do not constitute a waste of their time? Next time, I will hand them a copy of Coombs's book instead.
I highly recommend this book for those teaching technical communication and computer engineering, particularly at the undergraduate level. But truly anyone who needs advice on writing IT-oriented grants could benefit from this handy guide.