How to Write a Software Development Request for Proposal

NEKLO LLC
7 min readFeb 17, 2021
How to Write a Software Development Request for Proposal

Software development vendors are unquestionable wizards. However, few can boast of being mind-readers. Therefore, work on custom software development always starts with the preparation and submission of a request for proposal (RFP).

To assess the project properly and get ready for a scheduled call, NEKLO as a software development company invites customers to provide information through a contact form with basic fields.

Below we offer you a small guideline on how to write an RFP and what points to include to get an adequate software vendor’s estimate.

Introduction

The information technology market is expanding rapidly, opening new growth opportunities for businesses in every niche. According to Statista, spending on enterprise software development worldwide in 2019 was more than doubled if compared to 2009. In 2021, global spending on the IT industry is predicted to go on growing in all business sectors.

custom software development spending graph

However, thinking that hiring a software engineering company is enough to get a project started and a product successfully launched isn’t really correct. Businesses planning to invest in custom software development need to be aware of the fact that any project implementation depends on communication between a software development company and its customer.

The first step to building fruitful communication is a thoroughly prepared request for proposal (RFP) which customers submit before scheduling a call with the developers. As a software vendor, NEKLO receives RFPs on a regular basis. And we often identify repetitive issues that make the preparation of a quality RFP a challenge.

Below we discover what’s an RFP and what points will be sufficient to include to get a fair estimate on budget and deadlines from a custom software development firm.

We are starting, take notes!

What Is a Request for Proposal (RFP)?

Request for Proposal, or RFP, is a document containing a short company’s overview, project specifications, core technical requirements, and expected timelines. A well-prepared RFP will help your potential custom development firm to draw up informative bids and submit adequate proposals.

Additionally, an RFP can:

  • Help to break down tasks into comprehensible parts;
  • Reflect the key information needed to complete the task;
  • Save time;
  • Synchronize customer’s and contractor’s expectations;
  • Help define key metrics.

Building an RFP takes time: for customers to make it up well and for a software development vendor for preparing an informative bid. But it pays off as in the end you clearly see what’s going to be done within your project’s frames.

By the way, in one of our previous articles, NEKLO experts have shared tips to help outsource web and mobile development and team up with professionals efficiently. Take several minutes to look it through!

Writing an RFP: Checklist of Points to Include

One of the main tasks of an RFP is to gather the key information about the project. By paying due attention to the list of points you include in your RFP, you help your trusted software development team to complete the task efficiently and on time.

Based on our experience with customers, NEKLO Team has elaborated a checklist so you don’t miss out on essentials when creating your RFP.

custom software development rfp example

1. Executive project summary

The most important part of an RFP is the vision and business objectives of the project. If you don’t have a more or less clearly defined idea of ​​why your business needs it, it is unlikely that you will get that very desired product at the end of software development.

At this stage, you don’t have to describe your idea in great detail. It will be enough to specify a business hypothesis answering questions like:

  • How is it planned to use the final product?
  • What results do you want to achieve with the product?
  • Who will use the final product? (Specify your target audience)
  • What problems users will be able to solve with your product?

Even at the initial stage, it can be predicted already if the project will turn to be a success in the future. The clearer the goals and objectives are, the more likely the developer will meet your expectations.

2. Company overview and contact info

This point seems obvious. However, NEKLO and other software vendors for sure keep receiving anonymous RFPs now and then with no company name and no info on the company’s focus. Such a thing automatically reduces the prospect’s credibility and increases the chance that the request will go unanswered.

The position of the person who’s going to keep in touch with the development team and oversee the project is important too. It helps the software vendor company to understand if that person is in any way immersed in the IT topic, choose a language of communication, and consider other factors making cooperation comfortable for both parties.

Do not forget to leave your contact info. Moreover, it is desirable to indicate several ways to contact you, not just an email. Later on, it’s going to be very helpful for you and the developers as you will be reached out faster and easier to clarify whatever issues, as well as the points in your RFP.

3. Scope of services. Deliverables. Goals

You need to define what exactly the web solutions company should work on. This will help your software vendor to determine the terms and budget as precisely as possible. You might have some amount of work already done, for example, layouts, UI design, illustrations, a server API, and a database. We suggest you mention it in your request for proposal, as well as provide related docs and links.

As a rule, the backend is the most expensive and time-consuming part of custom software development. You will be able to save quite a lot of time and money if the software vendor you’re working with does not have to do the server part from scratch.

From NEKLO’s perspective, here’s what needs to be included in your RFP for developers to understand the scope of the project:

  • Is server-side development needed?
  • Are website design services necessary?
  • What is already done about your project? (including if there is any business analysis, clickable prototypes, MVPs, and technical specifications)
  • Do you need a separate system for independent application management? (in other words, admin panel)
  • Will further technical support be required? (if yes, it will be necessary to indicate the terms)

4. Response timeline and budget

As a rule, the exact final budget can’t be calculated at the RFP creation stage. However, the financial side and approximate bids are a must to discuss right away.

In your message, indicate the approximate or maximum budget you are willing to invest in the project. Taking into account your financial capabilities, the software development firm will offer an optimal solution that does not go beyond your specified expenses.

Additionally, mention if you want to receive an estimate of your project for a specific time frame. Specify what form of a response will suit you the best:

  • a price fork;
  • an estimate;
  • a commercial offer.

What’s more, deadline shifts are quite a common thing in customized software building. If you have an established launch date and a tight deadline, your software vendor is better off knowing about it in advance.

5. Technical requirements

Technical specifications are directly connected with the final product you need to receive. For example, if you are searching for custom app development services, define the type of your future app.

Answer the questions:

  • Do you want a web application or a mobile one?
  • For iOS or Android devices?
  • Aimed to be used on smartphones only or with responsive web design?

It’s not so easy to imagine the complete concept at the initial stages. Software vendors may give you even more complicated questions like “will the application interact with the network or work offline?” and “how will the app’s data be updated?”

At NEKLO, for example, we help customers make informed decisions regarding these basic points. In the beginning, we identify the strengths and flaws in your idea, which helps afterward to propose a better way to your innovation.

Think about the features you need first. For example, if yours is an ecommerce project, you could integrate it with a payment system, or enable authorization through social networks, or monetize your m-commerce application by integrating ad banners.

6. Possible constraints and other meaningful details

Basically, for a clear software development RFP, it’s pretty enough to dedicate attention to each of the above points. Every piece of additional information that you believe is important adds a “plus” to your brief. For a software development company, you will make work more convenient as the vendor will not have to perform guesswork or try to reach out to you to clarify stuff.

If your corporate identity or corporate ethics impose restrictions, indicate it. If you for example fundamentally do not use a particular color, it’s better to indicate it right away, not during the design work.

If you are announcing a tender and want to invite the software development team to participate, indicate it, together with the selection criteria and the number of participants.

None wants to get involved in the game without knowing the rules.

Conclusion

From NEKLO’s experience as a custom software development team, we can confidently say that at the stage of preparing an RFP, it’s always good to provide as much information as possible. Clarify the details that might seem even simple and straightforward to you.

Views on the customer side and the side of a software vendor may not coincide. Preventing misunderstandings through creating a detailed RFP will help to avoid unsatisfactory results.

NEKLO Team will be glad to take over the development of your project. Share your RFP with us via email (info@neklo.com) or through the contact form on our website. We sure will find a common language and guide you in prices and terms for your exact project.

Written by Dasha Korsik, Content Team Lead at NEKLO LLC, ecommerce and digital trends researcher, inventive mind aiming to drive results through quality content.

--

--

NEKLO LLC
0 Followers

NEKLO software engineering company focuses on custom web and Magento development, launches high-load projects, and helps to establish a better online presence.