White paper proposals are often the first step in the process of developing a while paper. If your company or organization is considering the development of a white paper and needs to get management approval for the idea, well-crafted white paper proposals will help you in your efforts. Proposals can take many formats, but no matter which format you choose, they should include the information described here.

White paper proposals define purpose

It’s easy to say, “we should create a white paper,” but it can be more challenging to explain exactly why you want to do that. Your white paper proposals should define the primary purpose of your planned white paper, along with any other objectives you hope to accomplish. For example, if your goal is to educate your sales force and customers about a new technology you’ve added, the primary purpose may be “Helping the sales team understand the advantages of the quick-start button so they can explain those advantages to customers in compelling ways.”

White paper proposals determine structure

Once you’ve described the purpose of your proposed white paper, spell out the structure. You probably don’t need a formal outline of the type you wrote back when you were in school, but you should think about how the white paper will flow and what you’ll want to include. As an example, the structure of your white paper might be defined as:

  • Introduction: What is the quick-start button?
  • Why slow-starting equipment creates a problem.
  • How users try to get around slow starts and why that doesn’t work
  • Our engineers recognized the need for quicker starts
  • How we designed and added the quick-start button
  • Extensive testing proves the quick-start button is reliable
  • Other benefits of the quick-start button
  • Common questions about the quick-start button
  • A few words about our company

What will be the sources?

Once you know what you’re going to write about, you need to identify the sources for information and how you plan to work with them. For this paper, you may decide to ask the sales manager about the problems customers have had with slow starts, and then reach out to the engineering team that designed the quick-start button. Listing all the sources will reassure managers that you’re taking a thorough approach to the subject.

Spelling out the timing

People will want to know when the white paper will be available, so your proposal should include some kind of schedule. Here’s an example of such a schedule:

TaskEstimated completion
Develop concept/titleAugust 2
Get management approvalAugust 4
Interview sourcesAugust 9
Compile interview notesAugust 12
Gather additional researchAugust 16
Develop an outlineAugust 17
Write the first draftAugust 24
Team reviews first draftAugust 27
Write the second draftAugust 31
Team reviews second draftSeptember3
Team approves draftSeptember8
Develop layout for paperSeptember13
Team reviews layoutSeptember14
Make changesSeptember15
Final approvalSeptember16
Post to websiteSeptember17

What is the budget?

If your white paper will require budget approval, you’ll need to prepare a basic budget. Every organization will handle the budgeting process differently. If your white paper is being developed completely by internal staff, you may not need to include this information. But if you’re planning to work with a professional white paper writer or an outside graphic designer, you’ll want to include their expected costs.

Who will write the white paper?

Finally, identify who will be responsible for writing the white paper — whether that’s a staff member or a professional white paper writer — and also spell out who will have the responsibility for reviewing and editing your white paper draft. By assembling all this information into clear and straightforward white paper proposals, you’ll improve the chances of project approval.

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