Outsourcing Guide: How to Write a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Software Development

Trung Tran

Trung Tran | 21/07/2023

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

Nowadays, you, whether a tech business, individual, or non-tech company, are given the opportunity to explore the IT world and venture with your software idea by leveraging professional IT services. In fact, outsourcing has saved businesses thousands of dollars each year in exchange for many more benefits. It explains its soaring popularity, with the market anticipated to reach $1921.33 billion by 2030 (According to Grand View Research).

Regarding software development services, vendor selection is the requisite condition for the success of a project outcome later on. Thus, taking the time and planning out the software projects in detail is critical before assigning a service provider to handle them. And your very next step is to create an RFP, also called Request for Proposal. With the right RFP, you are able to find the most suitable software development vendor. You can begin your outsourcing journey with a proper understanding of RFPs and some practical tips after this article.

Know What a Software Development Request for Proposal Is

In the IT industry, a request for proposals (RFP) is defined as an initial document that outlines all details of a specific software project and solicits bids from one software development company or multiple ones. In other words, an RFP plays the role of a formal invitation for software vendors to analyze the project overview and then submit their proposals and quotes.

Simple as its name suggests, an RFP document is issued to gather information about potential vendors and request proposals from them, thereby enabling the requester to compare different software development companies and choose the most appropriate IT vendor based on the project goals, technical requirements, and evaluation criteria.

When you, in the role of a service user, fully understand the concept of an RFP and its purpose, you will be able to take one step closer to your well-structured and comprehensive request for a proposal that will help you find the right software vendor.

Understand the Importance of RFP for a Software Development Project

It would be wise to acknowledge the importance of having an RFP document in software development projects.

First and foremost, RFPs play the role of an advertisement or announcement toward experienced software service providers, informing them that your project is proceeding and in need of a reliable partner. This way, requesters can attract more qualified candidates for their vetting and selection process.

Secondly, a good RFP acts as a go-to hiring guide for employers. It makes it possible for you to solicit and compare proposals from various service providers. An informative yet clear-cut RFP takes these vendors on a tour through your requirements and objectives so that they can comprehend your entire project, plan accordingly, and tailor proposals close to your project’s needs.

Thirdly, RFPs open up your project to competition, which in turn helps you get the most cost-effective and suitable vendor for your project. It’s an opportunity to determine which candidate is perfect for both quality and budget.

All in all, you definitely need a proper RFP ready before you can reach out for any software development outsourcing service.

Follow the Key Steps of the RFP Process

Follow the Key Steps of the RFP Process

The concept of RFP is the worldwide standard practice in the business realm. But unfortunately, there will be no such thing as called one-size-fits-all formula for RFP for all cases and software development projects. Therefore, each organization needs to come up with its own unique request for proposals tailored to your project requirements. Beware that you are prone to make mistakes in the process. Don’t worry; as long as you adhere to the following steps, you can prepare RFP and steer clear of any issues:

Discovery

Much like how you craft a contract, it starts with asking stakeholders questions about your actual project to figure out the overall requirements. These necessities include the purpose of development, the technical vision, project scope, required features and functions, the delivery schedule, estimated budgets, needed project management tools, and heaps more nitty-gritty details revolving around your project.

It is not any less crucial to decide who will be in charge of RFP writing in this phase. Usually, a product owner, project manager, or business analyst is usually appointed to handle this task with the assistance of professionals, of course. This selection is a result of the fact that he or she can connect with stakeholders better than anyone else and know the projects in and out. The findings you gather in this stage will primarily reflect the format of your upcoming RFP in the following stage.

RFP Preparation

After the need assessment, it is time to draft and then structure the specifications in a certain format to create an RFP document. It should include not only project details but also must-have criteria such as vendor selection criteria, evaluation metrics, timelines, budget ranges, and availability of resources (including software and hardware infrastructure), if applicable.

And ensure that all these criteria to evaluate potential vendors must be consented to and agreed upon by all relevant before sending out the RFP. More than that, you should also speculate on issues incurred in the entire project development process and remember to document them on paper.

Bear in mind that an RFP is how you present your project to the software development vendors, so its quality and comprehensiveness play a crucial role. Oftentimes, you may need to edit or rewrite your RFP repeatedly until you can finalize the final version, so be patient and detail-oriented.

Any tip? Yes, look for as many RFP samples as you can find, and learn from each until you withdraw the most suitable formula for your own. Search for the most suitable RFP template and start drafting one of your own. Also, you can use an available sample RFP document, but remember to adjust it to fit your needs.

Research

It is time to do your homework – start scouting the IT outsourcing market for a list of standard software development companies. During the screening stage, requesters will vet the company background, portfolio, expertise, and testimonials of each. Moreover, the provider’s software development activities will be scrutinized. This process ends with shortlisted candidates.

Vendor Distribution

Now is the time for the proposal process. RFPs are sent to all the relevant teams on your list. You have two options whether to publish your RFP on your website and other media channels to notify various software vendors or approach the potential ones directly via emails or contact points. Either way, get your job done anyway. But the latter is preferred due to the data security and privacy issues. It is advised to send out your RFPs to potential vendors at least two weeks prior to the deadlines so they have enough time to assess and respond. Next step, you can wait and “harvest” the proposals and start processing them.

Factor in the Most Critical Aspects of a Request for a Proposal

Factor in the Most Critical Aspects of a Request for a Proposal

“Software development RFP” is formed by different components. While some vary by project, others stay the same as a must. Therefore, when constructing a request for proposal (RFP) for software development, do include these elements:

Company Description

It is a good start to briefly introduce your company to all the potential vendors. Your company description should provide a glimpse of who you are, what you do, your services, your target audience, and other related info. This section should be concise yet impressive enough to persuade a software company to submit a proposal.

Project Description

This section is nothing more or less than an overview of your entire project, which covers everything in terms of scope, goal, and requirements.

Project Scope

Describe the scope of work needed to be completed and outline key tasks. The project manager should be able to determine what needs to be done and what stage you are in, giving service providers a big picture of the entire project development process and their roles to fill in.

Project Goals

Communicate with the chosen candidates about your project’s objectives as well as your expectations of the outcomes with the participation of a serious and experienced partner within a predefined timeframe and budget.

Project Requirements

List down what your project needs regarding technical requirements, functionalities, technologies, the number of software developers, budget, timeline, and other essentials to bring a software solution to life.

Each and every detail of your project must be clarified in this section to prevent any misunderstanding or misconception later on in the bidding process. The more comprehensive, the better.

Budget Limit

State your budget range. In detail, you will lay down the estimation of development costs, pricing range, and payment terms. The budget should cover the entire development life cycle, including program maintenance and post-launch support.

Bidding Structure

At this point, you can stipulate how you want the vendors to structure their bids and how you will evaluate them. A checklist and scoring system can serve as a guideline for submission and assessment, offering transparency for both sides.

Timeline

Clearly outline your timeline for the project. This should include the RFP response deadline, interview dates for shortlisted vendors, the final selection date, and the project completion date. This helps vendors determine if they can realistically meet your expectations within the given timeframe.

Contact Point

Last but not least, specify your contact information in case vendors have queries about your project or any point. This includes your business email address, hotline, or a link to your contact form. There is a fact that outsourcing companies sometimes can give feedback on your project requirements and make valuable suggestions that you can leverage to make your project even better.

Once you have included all these components in your RFP document, you can rest assured that you are ready to send your request and await the responses from potential software development vendors.

Orient Software – The Perfect-matched Software Development Company for Your Project

An RFP is a door to meet up with your potential outsourcing service partners.

Are you searching for a capable hand – a software development team – that can offer a variety of services, top experts, and the utmost quality? Look no further; Orient Software is everything you are looking for.

Why partner with us? Orient Software is a renowned name in the IT outsourcing industry. Based in Vietnam, we have a presence in four different countries with multiple offices and a sizable pool of tech talent dispersed across different time zones. We provide a complete package of services, typically custom software development, mobile app development, web app development, etc., and stay up-to-date with cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics, the Internet of Things, and heaps more.

Send us your RFP, or drop us a message for further discussion.

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