Project Proposal Builder

Project Manager window shown from the Job List panel / Job Master window / Proposal menu

Purpose & Function

The Proposal Builder system helps the user quickly build a Project Proposal based on job estimates and other cost calculations. The system is quite flexible to accommodate a wide variety of user needs. At the heart of the Proposal Builder there is a list of Proposal Items that contain descriptions and costs for the proposal. Each of these items has its own set of costs, a profit margin calculation and a description. The description and results of the cost and margin calculations (A.K.A. price) are displayed in the proposal document. When several items are included on the proposal, they are listed sequentially with a total at the bottom of the proposal. The proposal document also contains an Introduction and a set of Terms and Conditions that appear before and after the Proposal Item listings.

The Proposal Builder has a series of data controls on the left side. On the right there is a large scrollable Proposal Preview Panel. The data controls on the left allow the user to manipulate and edit the proposal information. The preview panel on the right shows the results of the editing. There are also several proposal manipulation functions in the Proposal menu at the top of the Project Manager window.

The Proposal Items Manager List

This is the most important part of the Proposal Manager. The items listed in the proposal with their prices are controlled through the Proposal Items Manager section.

  • Add button allows the user to add new items.
  • Edit button allows the user to edit line items thru the Proposal Item Editor window.
  • Delete button allows the user to delete items.
  • + button allows the user to move the selected item up one position on the list and in the proposal.
  • - button allows the user to move the selected item down one position on the list and in the proposal.

By double-clicking the items on the list, the user can access the Proposal Item Editor. This editor allows the user to enter a description for the item as well as calculating the prices for the item. The item list is discussed further below.

Proposal Controls shown on the Project Manager window

Proposal Controls

The proposal controls on the left-hand side of the Proposal Builder are the most frequently used functions. (Other less frequently used functions are listed on the Proposal menu.) The proposal data controls on the Proposal tab pane are grouped as follows:

  • Date Issued - A standard date control for manipulating the proposal date. The proposal date is important for reporting purposes. If the proposal date is not set when the user attempts to print or email it, the user will be prompted to set the proposal date.
  • Proposal # - A simple text field for editing the proposal number and a button to Get Job Number, if desired.
  • Add Introduction Note - This button launches a pop-up editor for the proposal introduction.
  • Proposal Items Manager - As discussed above, this is the largest and most important set of controls. The user can create, edit and delete Proposal Items using this control. The user can also rearrange the order of the proposal items using the +/- (up and down) buttons (see below).
  • Show Total & Tax - A checkbox for including totals and taxes on the proposal, and a Tax Rate field, if taxes are included. In cases where you are presenting several options for a job on the proposal, it may not be appropriate to show a total.
  • Edit Terms & Conditions - This button launches a simple pop-up editor where you can edit the proposal Terms and Conditions to your satisfaction. A set of Terms and Conditions is always included at the bottom of your proposal. If you do not want Terms and Conditions attached, simply delete the text except for a few bank spaces and no Terms and Conditions will be presented.

The editors for the Introduction and Terms & Conditions are simple text editors that pop up when the control is clicked. Each has a button for inserting a default message. The default Terms and Conditions are automatically inserted when the project is created. The default Introduction note is not inserted unless the user clicks the insert button. These default messages can be edited using the Message Editor Tab in the My Settings Window. The default messages may also be edited directly from the Project Manager window using commands on the project menu.

Proposal Item Lists and Management Controls

The proposal item table on the right-hand side is the heart of the proposal. The table lists "line items" and prices for the proposal. Each line item consists of an "Item Description" and one or more "Option" columns. Each Option column has a quantity and a price. Every line item in the proposal has the same number of "Option" columns. These may be totaled up to get a total proposed price for each "Option Column".

Adding and Removing Options

The first two items on the Proposal menu ("Option Column: Add" and "Option Column: Remove") control adding and removing Proposal Option columns. Option columns are always added and removed from the right-hand end of the option columns. When a proposal is first created from a job, the number of options is set to equal the number of quantities on the job. This can of course be modified, but usually it is most likely to be the desired number of options.

Adding & Editing Proposal Line Items

Each proposal line item has a set of calculations behind it. These calculations along with the Item description and taxable status are controlled through the Proposal Item Editor. To edit an item, highlight it on the list manager on the left side of the Proposal tabpane. Then click the Edit button, or double-click on the item. The Edit and Add item buttons both access the Proposal Item Editor window.

Relationships Between Proposals and Invoices

It should be noted that line items on the proposal also appear on the invoice builder by default to avoid entering the data twice and enhancing the automation of the process.

View/Print and Email Proposal

These buttons launches a report viewer which allows you to view the finished text of your proposal and either print, copy or email the text.

Proposal Menu Items

Proposal Menu Items shown on the Project Manager window

The following menu items are listed on the Proposal menu at the top of the Project Manager window:

  • Option Column: Add - this function allows the user to add Proposal Option columns (see above for more information).
  • Option Column: Remove - this function allows the user to remove Proposal Option columns (see above for more information).
  • Calculation Method: Mark-Up or Margin - this function allows the user to switch between Margin and MarkUp calculations when editing the individual line items in the proposal. This is discussed further in the Proposal Item Editor page.
  • Include Primary Job's Specs - This control determines if the technical specifications from the job you are working on will be included on the proposal text below the line items. In some cases you may or may not want to include the technical details on the proposal. Generally, the user will want to edit the job specifications displayed on the proposal line items. This function was included for convenience and conversion of legacy proposals from earlier versions of P3Source.
  • Edit Default Introduction Note - This function allows the user to modify and save a standard proposal introduction statement, which can be inserted into the proposal introduction text area.
  • Edit Default Terms & Conditions - This function allows the user to modify and save a standard set of proposal Terms and Conditions, which can be inserted into the proposal Terms and Conditions text area.
  • Proposal Response URL On/Off - Allows the user to change whether a Response Web Page Link is included with a proposal.
  • Edit Proposal Title Text - Allows the user to modify the Proposal Title Text.
  • Print Proposal - This function displays the proposal document as either an HTML page in the user's default browser or a MS-Word (.doc) document.
  • Email Proposal - This function launches the P3Source email sending window configured to send the proposal that has been created.

Proposal Item Editor

The Proposal Item Editor


The Proposal Item Editor controls the Cost Table in the center of the Client Proposal. The Proposal Manager controls the top level aspects of the proposal, but the Item Editor is where the specific description and calculations for the price of each line item are managed, including:

  • Markup Percentage / Amount
  • Supplier Quote Data
  • Fixed Costs (e.g. freight cost)
  • Costs per Unit (e.g. packaging)
  • Taxability
  • Specific Paper Costs

There are a considerable number of options, controls and subsidiary pop-up Windows that support the Item Editor. These can be grouped into four sections; the description controls, the cost calculation controls, the price calculation controls and the menus.


There are four major parts to the Proposal Item Editor window.

  1. Description controls are located on the left side of the window. These controls are used to edit the text description of the item that will appear on the proposal for the customer. You may also directly insert the specifications from a Job or RateCard.
  2. Cost Calculation controls are located at the top of the right side of the window. These controls are used to develop a cost basis for the proposal. These calculations are not displayed on the proposal, but their values are factored into the Price Calculation section.
  3. Price Calculation controls are located below the cost calculation controls on the right side of the window. These controls are used for adding a markup or profit margin to the cost basis in order to arrive at a set of prices. These prices will be displayed on the proposal for the customer.
  4. Menus for various functions are located at the top of the window. These menus provide additional functions for manipulating the cost and markup calculations, e.g. adding new lines, or switching between the Profit Margin or % Markup modes.


The Proposal Item Editor Description section

The description area is the simplest section of the Proposal Item Editor window.

Description - Most of the left-hand side of the window is taken up by a text editing pane labeled Item Description, where the user can enter a description of the Proposal Item. This description is what the customer will see on the proposal, so it should be clear and well articulated.

Insert Spec Text (or Insert Specifications) - As an aid to the user, there is a button at the bottom of the text editing pane that can be used to insert the specifications from a Job or RateCard into the description of this item. Activating this button will cause a text version of the specifications from the job associated with the project to be inserted into the text editing pane Item Description. If more than one job is associated with the project, an intermediate pop-up window will allow the user to select which job's specifications to insert. Generally, the specifications will need some editing to ensure that the content is appropriate for the customer to see.

Advanced Pricing Note: If the associated job is using the Multi-Item Spec, then an additional intermediate pop-up window will prompt the user to select which item's name and description to insert.

Tax Status - Just above the description editing pane there is a small Tax Status checkbox. Checking this box will indicate that tax should be included for this item on the proposal. By default the tax status is set to off. You may set tax ID numbers from the Customer List, and set the tax rate from the Invoice tab of the Project Manager.

Cost Calculator

The Proposal Item Editor Cost Calculator section

The calculations for the item cost occupy the upper right-hand side of the Proposal Item Editor window. These calculations are divided into two sections, a cost section at the top and a Markup section at the bottom. The Cost Calculator section at the top is used to calculate the cost of the item being offered through the proposal, and the Totals & Margin section is used to calculate a price to the customer based on the cost calculation total.

The cost calculation may consist of many different components, so this section is structured to build a set of Cost Calculation Lines, whose total displays in the top line of the Totals & Margin section. The Cost Calculation Lines are listed in a table with a column for each proposal option. The first row of the Cost Calculator table holds the quantities associated with the options. These quantities can be modified in the table and, unless completely deleted, will be displayed on the proposal. The Cost Calculation Lines are listed below the quantities in the Cost Calculator table. Each Cost Calculation Line has a description on the left, and a set of value columns on the right, corresponding to the number of options being offered on the proposal. The number of proposal options can be adjusted from the Project Manager Proposal menu or the Supplier Price Selector.

Cost Calculation Line Types

The window brought up by the Add a cost line button.

The Add a cost line button may be used to add new cost lines to the Item selected. When clicked, this button causes a pop-up window to prompt the user to select a Cost Calculation Type. The user can also add lines from the Calculator-Lines menu at the top of the window. There are five types of Cost Calculation Lines that can be added to the Cost Calculation table: Supplier Pricing, Fixed Cost, Cost per Unit, RateCard Pricing, and Paper Calculator. Each line type has its own properties and methodology for calculating costs.

Fixed Cost - This is simplest calculation method. The user can simply type in and amount for each option column by double-clicking on the appropriate cell. The description for fixed cost lines can be modified to remind the user what that cost was based on. This annotation does not appear in the final proposal.

Unit Cost - The user enters a unit cost for each column which is then multiplied by the quantity for that column to arrive at a total cost. The cells in this line always display the unit cost. The total cost is only reflected in the calculated total cost in the top line of the Price Markup section. The description for the unit cost line is editable, and may be used to note what the unit cost represents. This annotation does not appear on the final proposal.

Supplier Pricing and RateCard Pricing - Most commonly, users will want to base their pricing on RFQ responses from their print suppliers. The Supplier Pricing and RateCard Pricing types of calculation line facilitate this process. Values on these lines are not directly editable but are manipulated through a separate pop-up window called the Supplier Price Selector. This pop-up window is accessed by clicking on the description column of the Supplier Quote Cost Calculator table row, which is formatted to look and behave like a button control. The description column cell is not editable. Instead it is labeled with a reference to the job or RateCard from which the prices were obtained. The details of the Supplier Price Selector window are described in a separate page. Note:' When a new Supplier Quote line is added, the Supplier Price Selector window for that line automatically opens.

Paper Calculator - This type of line item is used to calculate the cost of paper through a separate pop-up window called the Paper Cost Calculator. This separate window performance variety of sophisticated calculations associated with estimating paper costs. On the Cost Calculator table, the paper calculation lines work in a very similar manner to the Supplier Quote lines. The values are not directly editable, and the description field looks and behaves like a button, which launches the Paper Cost Calculator window. The labels are also not directly editable. A separate page for the Paper Cost Calculator describes its details.

Totals & Margin

The Totals & Margin section, located below the Cost Calculator, is used to add a profit margin or markup percentage to the total costs from the Cost Calculator. The profit margin can be added to the cost as a percentage, an absolute dollar figure, or both. Most commonly, it is applied as a percentage of the cost base. There are two methods for applying a percentage to the cost basis: the Margin percentage and the Markup percentage.

  • Markup Percentage - Calculates total cost by multiplying the base cost with the percentage to arrive at a profit amount.
  • Margin Percentage - Calculates a markup such that the Gross Profit is the specified percentage of the total cost.

As an example of the difference between these two methods, consider an item that costs $100 and is being sold for $200. In this case, the Markup Percentage is 100%, while the Profit Margin for the item is 50%. Some users prefer to use the Markup Percentage, and others prefer to use the Margin Percentage. The P3Source system allows the user to switch between these two types of calculation. (There is an
New Project Default Settings that controls the initial Markup/Margin method that is used on all new items.) The method calculation currently in use is displayed in the left-hand most cell of the line, and will indicate either Markup or Margin.

Markup/Margin Percentage - To apply a profit percentage to the cost, the user can type in a percentage for each option column. A profit and total price will be automatically calculated based on the cost total from the Cost Calculator and the percentage. A default and/or minimum percentage for all newly created items may be set in the New Project Default Settings by an Enterprise Administrator.

Markup Amount - The user can also enter an absolute profit amount in the Markup $ row. If a percentage has been set, the amount will be added to the total after the Markup/Margin Percentage is applied, otherwise the markup amount is simply added to the total cost to arrive at a price for the customer.

Displaying Unit Price - Some customers want to have a unit price displayed along with the total price on the proposal. The Unit Cost Display Options item of the Tools menu may be used to change how and if unit prices are displayed. When in use, a unit price line will appear below the total price line on the Totals & Margin table. The same values will be presented on the proposal below the total price values. There are two ways to display unit price: "Price per Unit" or "Price per 1000".

Menu Functions

There are two menus with functions that affect the price calculations: Calculator-Lines and Tools.

The Calculator-Lines Menu has functions for adding each of the different types of calculator lines, and for deleting a line.

Tools Menu has two menu items. The first allows the user to switch percentage calculation method between Margin Percentage and Markup Percentage. The second allows the user to control the display of unit cost on the proposal. There are three unit cost display options: no unit cost, cost per unit, and cost per thousand. When in use, the unit cost values are displayed below the price values on the proposal.

Proposal Paper Cost Calculator

The Paper Cost Calculator. Here, the customer has a choice between ordering 1,000 or 2,000 items, where each sheet produces 3 items.

Purpose & Function

The Paper Cost Calculator is a way of adding up costs to make a Proposal Line Item. The Calculator is useful when the amount of paper needed to complete a job differs from the number of materials that will be produced. You, the user, need to work in terms of paper cost, while your customer needs to work in terms of final product cost. For instance, if your customer wants to order 1,000 items, where 1 sheet of paper produces 4 items, the price you give to your customer will be based on 1/4 of the cost of a sheet of paper, and you will need to order 250 sheets from your suppliers for every 1,000 items you need to produce. The Paper Cost Calculator helps you figure out how much paper you need to order and how much it will cost, based on pieces produced per sheet, waste percentage or fixed waste amount, and cost per sheet of paper.

Using the Calculator

To use the Paper Cost Calculator, select the Paper Calculator option when adding a new line item to a Proposal. The Paper Cost Calculator window will appear. You will then need to select or enter a description using the menu next to the Description label, dimensions for each sheet of paper by using the two text boxes or drop down menu next to Sheet Dimensions, and a basis weight for calculation from the drop down menu next to Basis Weight.

Select cost calculation method window

The Paper Cost Calculator. Here, the customer has a choice between ordering 1,000 or 2,000 items, where each sheet produces 3 items.

The final calculations are displayed in the table in the lower portion of the Paper Cost Calculator window. Any cell with a white background may be edited, and any cell with a gray background may not be edited. Cells with blue, button-like backgrounds may be clicked on to switch between options.


  • The quantities for each option are loaded from the Proposal Item Editor, and might not necessarily differ.

Pieces per Sheet / Sheets per Piece

  • Use this blue cell to switch between Pieces per Sheet and Sheets per Piece as necessary, then enter the number required for each option.

Net Sheets Required

  • This line will display the number of sheets needed to produce each option, given the rows above.

Waste Percentage

  • In this line, you may enter the percentage of paper that is wasted when producing the given quantity.

Waste Fixed Amount

  • In this line, you may enter a fixed number of sheets that are wasted when producing the given quantity.

Gross Sheets Required

  • This line displays the number of sheets that must be ordered, taking into account any waste.

Gross Paper Weight

  • This line displays the total weight of paper that must be ordered, in the user's chosen unit system.

Paper Cost Rate

  • Use the blue cell to switch between cost per number of sheets and cost per weight of sheets, then enter a cost for each option.


  • This line displays the total cost of the paper needed to produce each option.

When you have finished with the calculator, press the Close button at the top of the window, and use the Proposal Item Editor to add a markup and label as with any line item].

Proposal Supplier Quote Selector

Purpose & Function

The Supplier Quote Selector is accessed from the Proposal Items Manager when selecting Supplier Pricing or RateCard Pricing as a new line item, or editing a line item. The Quote Selector is used to combine supplier's quotes into a single bid included in a Project Proposal. The Selector can add or remove options from a line item, edit quantities, and edit prices.


The Quote Selector.

The Quote Selector is relatively simple to use, and in most cases will only require a few clicks from the user. The Selector displays two tables, one showing the price options as they will appear in the Proposal, and one showing the available bids, taken either from a Job related to the Project, or a RateCard. Any cell of the table with a white background is editable by the user, and cells with gray backgrounds are non-editable.

Adding or Removing an Option

  • Use the Add Option and Remove Option buttons as necessary.

Copying Data from the Supplier Quotes Table

  • Double-clicking on any of the labels in the leftmost column of the Supplier Quotes table will insert all the data from that row into the appropriate row of the Current Selections table. Double-clicking on a single cell will bring up a prompt to insert the price/quantity of that cell into one of the options above.

Inserting/Editing Quantities Directly

  • Double-click on the cell(s) next to the Quantities label in the Current Selections table, and enter the desired quantities.

Inserting/Editing Quotes Directly

  • Double-click on the cell(s) next to the Selected Quote label, and enter the correct price.

In the example screenshot above, the user has offered their customer two options, and taken the prices from a job which quoted two suppliers: Joe Schmo Inc., and Sesame Street. The customer has two options: 1,000 brochures, or 2,000 brochures. The user double-clicked on the Quantities label in the lower table to copy both quantities into the upper table. The user then double-clicked on "Joe Schmo Inc." in the lower table to insert their bid of $1,350 and $1,900 into the upper table. Sesame Street, however, has a better price on 2,000 brochures, so the user double-clicked on their bid of $1,800 for 2000 brochures, and chose to insert it into the second option. The customer now has a combined bid of $1,350 for 1,000 brochures, and $1,800 for 2,000 brochures, before the markup added by the Proposal Item Editor.