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Request for Proposal Software Development – Tips and Guidelines

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Outsourcing software development has become a great option for satisfying the technical requirements and needs in the modern business environment. It is not only the most cost-efficient option but also because it allows focusing on core business activities. However, the most critical aspects are to find the best partner and settle the efficient cooperation.

One of the ways to establish a partnership with the best-fitting software development vendor is by posting the RFP – Request for proposal document. It will allow you to attract a software development supplier, who fully meets your criteria.

In this article, you will discover the key insights on writing the proper software development RFP, and find the RFP template for software development and guidelines helping to prepare an effective RFP.

What is software development (RFP) Request For Proposal

A request for proposal or RFP is a business document, which announces and describes the project, usually posted by an organization aiming to receive a response from a potential software development company for the desired software solution. 

It indicates that bids for potential vendors to complete the project are sought. This document is usually written to start the ongoing conversation with your partner not to make the official statement, but, to establish a productive partnership.

RFP contains a detailed description of the product the client is looking for, and project scope, and describes each evaluation criterion on which the proposal of the vendor will be assessed.

Typically, software development RFP includes

  • General description of the organization, detailed information about the needed software development solution, evaluation criteria for the future vendor
  • It may also contain a section called SOW(Statement of Work). It contains information about the expected timelines for deliverables and a general definition of the scope of work for the selected vendor.
  • It may also contain the instructions and guidelines for the appropriate preparation of software projects and the format of the RFP response.

As you probably already guessed, exist various types of such formal documents (also requests) related to software projects, which can be used for the procurement of products and services. Here is the table allowing you to understand them better and not mix with the RFP document.

Types of documents requests

Why do companies need RFP for software development?

When software projects require the implementation of a mix of various technologies, configurations, and sometimes vendors, an RFP may be requested. It contains the request for change of software and hardware infrastructure, and user training to integrate and establish a new ERP or CRM system. Moreover, it outlines the bidding process and software development contract terms.

RFP may be also sent as a bid to cut the development cost for a software project. The quality of the document prepared by any customer directly influences the response from a software vendor. A customer sets clear expectations, detailed descriptions and a set of requirements. The quality of this document will impact the success or failure of the resulting IT solution.

rfp benefits

Requirements for the RFP

Generally organizations issue request for proposal to spark competition among vendors and drive down the cost of the project realization. There are some general guidelines that will help you to create a proper RFP through all stages.

The beginning

Each RFP starts with a company description, an overview of your overall project goals, limitations, and requirements. Mentioning your target audience will enable the potential vendor to get a better understanding of your business needs and objectives.

Instead of stating the technical requirements, it is better to describe your needs, so that the software vendor will see the full picture. Describe the aim of the project, and identify the processes you want to improve and problems, which need to be solved.

If the current solution you are using lacks some features, you should also mention it as well.

Project scope and deliverables

Be attentive and careful while working on this section of the document, since potential software vendors will use it as a basis for an accurate proposal. In this section you need to include the following details:

  • Project infrastructure
    If you have the already implemented solution, identify what it lacks to ensure reliability, security, and high efficiency. Identify the changes you need to make to your networks and server room. Dwell upon the intellectual property protections and physical and data security concerns that need to be addressed.
  • Product requirements
    In this section, you need to identify your expectations concerning how the future product will function. Mention the UI/UX expectations, system-related abilities, detail things that should be automated, mention the entity details, and describe the processes which should follow specific user actions.
  • The list of experts
    Mention the members of your team who will be able to contribute to the future software development project. It may include target users, business area experts, business analysts, in-house software engineers, and designers.

Project management details

The whole section will concern the project management details, including details concerning Scrum and Kanban agile methodologies. Moreover, you have to dwell upon the project management tools, communication tools, development platforms, and testing methodologies.

Moreover, you need to mention whether you would prefer the remote cooperation model, outstaffing, dedicated team, etc.

You may also request the QA and testing policies as well as info on how they create the user and developer docs.

Timeline for accepting a proposal

This section should contain the details of the deadline with very detailed identification of the timelines – bid submitting, interviews, formal bids submission, identification of the candidates, final interviews, and candidates selection timelines.

However, if you will provide enough time for the potential vendors, you will receive more responses to choose from.

Bid structure

In this section you need to identify, which information you need from each potential software development vendor. It will guarantee that vendors will structure the information in the same way, thus allowing you to make a side-by-side comparison. Here are the possible criteria, which could be 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

Selection criteria

The selection criteria are individual for each company and organization, depending on the industry and business preferences. It may either be the experience or cost-efficiency, or all the criteria combined. No matter, which criteria you orient on while choosing the vendor, you need to go through two stages – pre-qualification and qualification.

Pre-qualification stage

Filter the potential vendors and choose only those, who are most capable of working on your project. The availability of a portfolio and experience of working on similar projects is a great way to shorten the list of potential vendors.

Selection stage 

This stage is more detailed. A company asks for the cost of software, and technical vision discusses privacy policy, and shares the details of the project

Settling down all the key business requirements and criteria, for instance, the necessity of signing the NDA, privacy policies, security issues, terms, and conditions, etc. could be clearly stated in the RFP document.

RFP process flow
rfp process flow

Key roles in RFP preparation process

Consultant – understands the needs of the customer and adequately explains them within the RFP document. They choose qualified potential software development suppliers and assess the quality of services offered.

Procurement expert -coordinates the Request for Proposal preparation process communicating with all team members to detect their pain points and select the best possible solution. They reach out to vendors with the initial request.

Stakeholders – usually business stakeholders are working on the determination of the solution and key factors or features for consideration. They also take part in scoring the potential vendors.

CFO – Chief Financial Officers are responsible for estimations and they also will evaluate the return on investment.

How to improve the quality of vendor proposals?

Here are some tips helping to improve the quality of the received vendor proposals while posting RFP document.

  1. Define the scope and boundaries of the project in detail. The more accurately you will compile the RFP, the more exactly vendors will respond.
  2. Invite potential software development companies to a pre-proposal conference. It will allow interviewing vendors face to face.
  3. You can also make changes even after the request for proposal is posted by issuing an addendum to all participants.

Request for Proposal template for software development: Best practices

rfp template

Since procurement experts do not have the time and abilities to create each RFP document from scratch, they use RFP template. It allows not only to save time but also to skip the time-consuming process of collecting question data and focus on a project review.

Project overview section

Each document should comprise the project overview section. It should reflect the history of your business development and current needs. The more detailed proposal you will provide the easier it would be for software vendors to understand the needs, prospects and aspirations.

Measurable data for comparison

Make sure to ask quantifiable questions to get the answers you can measure. It will allow you to take the right decision by being oriented on your priorities. It will also help to establish the accurate scoring of the vendors and take data-driven smart decisions.

Tag questions by RFP type

Categorize the templates of RFP types. Such order and categorization will allow to quickly assess the needed section of questions and create the desired RFP template for your current needs.

Include terms, conditions, and policies

Include the diversity requirements, conflict of interest policies, safety standards, and delivery requirements. Outline the proposal submission requirement to receive the responses in the desired format. Ask for possible suppliers’ limitations to understand the future prospects more clearly.

Our experience with RFP software development

In the modern competitive environment, the significance of the RFP for software development is indisputable. It has become a tool allowing to define and establish cooperation with a strong software development company.

Our expertise with over 10 years in the market demonstrates that we build efficient and strong partnerships delivering software development services of the highest quality. Each project is treated with the utmost care. Our team will provide top-notch solutions in line with RFP requisites.

A committed style of doing business, customer oriented approach and experienced team allow us to impress and retain customers, demonstrating the highest quality of software development service. We help companies to cover all the significant business operations, offer various working models, including team extension and dedicated team, and build productive cooperation.

Summing up

A correctly formulated request from a customer means an exact and adequate Request for a proposal from a vendor. It means successfully finishing a project, meeting deadlines, high quality of the end product, and contented customer. This primary formulation of the task, which would be addressed to a developer is called – RFP -request for proposal.

Having extensive experience and many successfully finished projects behind, in this article we will discuss all the details and bottlenecks of writing RFP documents. It will allow you to avoid major mistakes and receive the result you count on.


Wishing to choose the best vendor to trust the technical part of your project, as a client, you send several RFPs, conduct a tender and finally choose the best option. RFPs are used by most government agencies and many private companies and organizations.
It allow you to attract a software development supplier, who fully meets your criteria. One can save time but also to skip the time-consuming process of collecting question data and focus on a project review.

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