CEO at Relevant

How to Write a Request Proposal (RFP) For Software Development

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How do solicit bids for software development projects from reputable vendors? You create a detailed RFP to ensure you attract the right firm. To help with that, we’ve created a guide for writing a software development request for proposal (RFP).

What is an RFP for software development?

The software development request for proposal is the initial document you create before you select a software development firm.

A software RFP can also be used for other projects. In it, you will outline specifics about the project, your requirements, even expected deliverable dates. Vendors will read this document. They will then submit a bid based on your request.

How do Software Development Companies Use RFP?

When a company receives a properly composed RFP for software development, they are more likely to respond appropriately. Companies that are interested in the work, and capable of doing it will respond with a detailed proposal. Your software RFP is also a time-saving tool. Companies that don’t have the required staff or skill set will know to move onto the next solicitation.

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Begin With an Executive Summary And Company Description

The executive summary is simply an overview of your overall goals, limitations, and requirements. Be brief, and make every word count. Don’t forget to mention your target audience. It usually helps to add some information about your company. Companies will be able to understand your needs better if they understand your organization.

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When you write your project goals, keep one rule in mind. Think like a business person, not a software developer. That means stating your business needs and goals rather than listing technical specifications. 

Next, consider how you will quantify your goals. For example, if you want a solution to improve your communication with workers in the field, consider what that will look like. Maybe it will be a 25% reduction in errors attributed to miscommunication.

Chances are, you will revisit this section before it’s perfected. If you have the following questions answered, you are off to a good start:

  • What is your company’s mission as it relates to this project?
  • What is your idea?
  • How will it look?
  • What processes would you like to improve or automate?
  • Who will use the final product?
  • What flaws exist in your current solution?
  • Do you see any potential roadblocks (e.g., an outdated tech stack)?

Read also about MSA in software development and what to include in a custom software development contract.

Project Scope And Deliverables

This will be the longest and most detailed part of your RFP. Software development company reps will rely on this to create an accurate proposal. Here are some things you’ll address.

Project Infrastructure

What does your project need to ensure reliability, security, and availability? This will define the infrastructure you need. Here, you’ll want to consider a few things. 

  • For self-hosted solutions, what is your current infrastructure?
  • What changes will you need to make to your networks and server room?
  • What do you need from a developer hosted solution?
  • How will physical and data security concerns need to be addressed?
  • What about intellectual property protections?
  • How can access be limited?

Product Requirements

How will your product function? Try to think in terms of:

  • The user experience.
    Write about what the user will see and be able to do. For example, ‘The user should be able to modify their preferences via their user profile.
  • Product capabilities.
    Write about system related abilities. For example, ‘The system should send out a message to the warehouse manager when order exceeds more than 500 units.
  • Streamlining and optimization.
    Detail things that should be automated so that users don’t have to take specific actions. For example, ‘The system should automatically submit a confirmation email for each order.
  • Entity details.
    These are the characteristics of every entity that is part of the new development. For example, the entity, ‘Customer Service Ticket’ should have the following attributes: customer name, customer number, date and timestamp, explanation of the issue, assigned agent, urgency classification, tech representative, and resolution.
  • Process-oriented.
    Mention any processes that need to happen, even if they aren’t seen or driven by user action. For example, ‘The system must synchronize manual orders with online orders each night.

One way to communicate this information is through user stories. Consider using a professional copy or technical writer like Trust my Paper or BestEssayEducation to put this text together.

List of Experts

Who from your team will be able to add value to the process? This list might include users, business area experts, business analysts, and in-house designers and developers. This is where you’ll also mention the experts you are seeking from the software vendor as well.

Project Management

This section will address questions, concerns, and expectations for project management. Yes, this does include methodologies such as Kanban or Scrum. This is also where you want to discuss project management tools, methods of communication, development platforms, and testing. This is also a good time to discuss whether you are interested in a fully remote solution, dedicated teams, or something hybrid.

Two other considerations are QA and documentation. Consider requesting information from each vendor on their QA and testing policies, as well as how they create both developer and user docs.

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Timeline For Response

Your software RFP should include a brief timeline for accepting proposals. Your timeline should include:

  • Deadline for submitting an intention to bid.
  • Date range for holding interviews or receiving preliminary questions.
  • Deadline for submitting formal bids.
  • Date for notifying final candidates.
  • Date range of final interviews
  • Deadline for candidate selection

Keep in mind that you’ll get the best responses if you can give developers as much time as possible to formulate their responses.

Bid Structure And Requirements

What information do you need from vendors to make a decision? 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 will be able to conduct a side by side comparison. Here’s a list of the data that is commonly included:

  • Company name and background.
  • Location.
  • Project management preferences.
  • Qualifications of team members.
  • A primary project plan.
  • A vision of the final product.
  • Plans for training and support
  • Cost breakdown 
  • References

Don’t forget to add any other criteria. For example, if you absolutely want developers to come in-house, then you’ll need to indicate that. Otherwise, you’ll be fielding bids from companies that don’t meet your needs.

Final Thoughts

There’s no standard template for writing an RFP for software development. Instead, we’ve provided you with some guidelines and important considerations. Keep these in mind while creating a request for a proposal that meets your project needs.

If you don’t want to bother yourself with writing a proposal, have trouble describing the technical part, or still aren’t sure why to outsource software development, you can schedule a call with our team. Relevant is a 8-years old software development company with excellent product development expertise. We will be glad to hear and write down your requirements.

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CEO at Relevant
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