Each year, CIOs or businesses looking to expand their software projects spend thousands of dollars on professional IT services. While some rely on in-house teams, others still need to bring in external experts to achieve their business goals. This need has led to the huge popularity of IT outsourcing: according to Grand View Research, the global market will reach $1921.33 billion by 2030.
Indeed, IT outsourcing can provide the desired success if the contractor is chosen well. That is where a detailed RFP (Request for Proposals) for software development can offer you both tactical and strategic value. Done correctly, a compelling RFP attracts quality vendors and minimizes the pitfalls, so you get products that bring tangible results to your organization.
Want to write an RFP professionally but need more clarification? Relevant experts will guide you through every step in the RFP process by leveraging our nine-year experience in product development.
Table of Contents
The RFP is a primary document that outlines the details of a project and solicits proposals and ideas from vendors. In the IT industry, it is used when a company needs to outsource a project that is beyond its internal capabilities but is crucial for the success of its business.
A clear-cut request for a proposal provides many benefits for the IT project and the company that is interested in it. The rightly prepared document offers the following:
Finally, a good and beneficial RFP document makes it easier for you and your potential supplier to create a long-term business relationship and meet each other’s expectations.
Sometimes, an RFP is confused with a Request for quotation (RFQ) or Request for information (RFI). But in fact, RFQ and RFI are subsets of RFPs representing the first level of proposals to resolve a business problem or project need.
RFI is a document containing written information or clarifications about the capabilities of multiple vendors for comparative purposes. RFI is utilized to gather information for comparison and to help make a business decision about the best candidate. It is typically merged with Request for Proposals and Request for Quotations (RFQs) to solicit potential suppliers for their strategy, skills, and capabilities.
RFP and RFI are employed in the early stages of vendor selection, with the RFI usually sent before the RFP. The format of the RFI varies depending on the details the client is looking for, while the RFP goes beyond the basic information and requires a specific description of the required results.
RFP is a worldwide practice, but there is no single standard that fits all organizations. From an amateur’s perspective, there are countless ways to get this wrong. Therefore, let’s run through the RFP process together, ensuring you’re confident in your ability to compile this crucial business document on the go.
The discovery phase with key stakeholders is the first step in the RFP process. You’re looking for three things:
Tip. In this meeting, discuss the broad business goals you could meet with this project and your estimated budget. You will also need to decide on how to evaluate different vendors and what categories are top priorities for your needs, such as security, speed to implementation, project functionality, etc. For transparency and fairness, evaluation criteria must be agreed upon before sending the RFP.
Relevant is a software development company from Ukraine. For the past 8 years, we have helped 200+ companies outsource their software development.
Let's talk about your current needs and how we can help you.
The next step is the actual drafting of the RFP. It is the most crucial part of the process, as a well-drafted RFP is essential to identify the issues you must address. The more comprehensive the document is, the better, as this will enable potential vendors to understand the problem more thoroughly while offering more effective solutions.
Tip. Look at various RFP samples to ensure everyone understands what the finished product will look like. Then, search out template ideas that can help you start drafting.
You have a few options here: you can post the RFP on your website and notify potential vendors about it; you can post it on various RFP websites and online services; or you can reach out to vendors directly and send the RFP their way.
Tip. Narrow down the pool of candidates in order to focus efforts. Only include those who have a high likelihood of success.
As you receive responses, use your own scoring pattern to evaluate vendors, eliminating those that don’t meet your requirements. The process includes pinpointing strong spots among vendors and shortlisting those with the highest scores.
Tip. Please clarify any questions that might come up from vendors during the timeline for response. Once it closes, you do not need to respond to vendors until you’ve decided.
Once the response window closes, compare your shortlisted vendors to make a choice. Check all their contact references and reviews, ensuring consistency between what they share and what their clients say. Contact vendors if additional meetings or materials will help you choose.
Tip. Once you narrow it down to two or more best participants, negotiate between them, locking in a price and contract with your final choice. In the end, notify the non-winners and tell them why you decided not to go with their product or service.
The RFP is composed of several key components that form its core. Together, these components make up a comprehensive and effective offering. Let’s go over these in depth.
Begin the RFP with a brief and clear explanation of why you are referring to the vendor. Formulate a general idea of what needs to be done in a few sentences.
It will be a good deal to start with your company executive summary. Tell more about what your company does, your core values, what you stand for, and who your customers are. That will help vendors to understand not only your project but your vision.
Make this section highly itemized; it lets vendors know what you are looking for and if they can meet those needs. Remember—the more specific you can be, the better quality of your received bids. We recommend starting with such questions:
This will be the longest and most detailed part of your RFP. Representatives of the software company will form a valid proposal and calculate the cost based on the details specified here. Therefore, it is essential to provide specific details for the following:
What does your project need to ensure reliability, security, and availability? That will define the infrastructure you need. Here, you’ll need to outline a few things:
How will your product function? Try to think in terms of
This part lets you clarify how the vendor will manage your software projects. In addition, asking about the project management tools or suggesting your own ones without which you cannot imagine the process (e.g., Asana, Trello, or Slack) is essential.
If you prefer agile methodologies, ask which process the IT vendor will implement in your project. Options include Scrum, Kanban, Lean, etc. Also, inquire if the IT vendor will provide a dedicated manager for your project.
It is a major part of the software delivery process because, with a robust quality assurance process, your vendor can deliver flawless software. It would be best if you got clarity on the following with your software vendor beforehand:
Regarding team structure, you should determine which domain experts, developers, UI/UX designers, security experts, system analysts, and other team members you need to achieve your project goals. If your team has the required proficients, they can cooperate with the supplier’s team. But if the supplier lacks some necessary specialists, hiring them may take additional time. This is also a good time to discuss whether you are interested in fully remote collaboration, dedicated teams, or hybrid.
What information do you need from vendors to decide? Are there any restrictions you want to place on the businesses that respond to your request? Give detailed instructions on the information you need from each software company. If every vendor sends you the same information, structured the same way, you can conduct a side-by-side comparison. Here’s an example of the commonly included data:
Remember that preparing a quality proposal with all the components that are most important to you is a difficult task, so be sure to give service providers enough time to put them together. Usually, the estimated time is from 30 (for projects that are simple enough) to 60-120 days (for extremely challenging projects). Set terms for the different stages of the request for proposals, in particular:
While analyzing your requirements, vendors may have additional questions to clear up the project specs. Let potential suppliers know in what way they can contact you. If you want to receive RFPs to a specific email, specify it in this section.
Templates can be helpful for quickly creating your RFP from scratch, as they already contain all the required fields that just need to be filled out. Here is an example of a software development proposal template request.
Proposal Due Date
[Your Company Name]
Your Company Description
[Describe your company and the products/services you provide]
[An introduction that covers the state of your product and what pain points need to be tackled by the software development project.]
Software Development Project Goals
[Define clear and achievable goals and your aims]
[Provide more detail for your technical requirements]
[Any vendor needs to know how much you’re able to pay them for their services before they move forward with their bid]
Candidate Evaluation Criteria
Project Due Date
Contact Phone Number
Here are a few practical tips to help create an effective software development RFP.
The value of RFP for software development is undeniable in today’s competitive environment. It has become a tool for identifying and establishing partnerships with a strong software company like Relevant.
Our experience in the market for more than nine years shows that we build effective and strong partnerships, providing the highest quality software development services. We сoherently handle each project and deliver first-class solutions per RFP requirements.
With a dedicated business style, a client-focused approach, and a seasoned team, we can impress and retain customers by demonstrating the highest quality of software development services. We help companies capture all significant business operations, offer a variety of work models, including team augmentation and dedicated teams, and build productive collaboration. Get in touch with our team to get your projects underway.
Do you know that we helped 200+ companies build web/mobile apps and scale dev teams?
Let's talk about your engineering needs.Write to us