Request for proposal software development
Why is software development RFP important?
The Request for Proposal, or RFP for short, can be thought of in two ways:
- As a process of documentation and solicitation for the development of a newly formed partnership and,
- As the document outline itself that solicits the actual proposal through a bidding process.
Investopedia defines RFPs as a “project funding announcement posted by a business or organization for which companies can place bids to complete the project. The RFP outlines the bidding process and contract terms, and provides guidance on how the bid should be formatted and presented.”
The RFP process is typically comprised of the following activities:
- Solicitation of bids through the RFP process to prospective software vendors/participants.
- Distribution of RFP to all interested vendors.
- Wait period to receive and respond to clarifications submitted by vendors. Typically, all clarifications are answered in a single document for all vendors.
- Selection of finalists for a one-on-one review.
- Formal execution of master service agreements, non-disclosures, statements of work, and more.
- Kickoff planning sessions for the software project.
RFPs typically draft the requirements for a specific project, whether for a business organization, a non-profit, a government agency, or, for the purpose of this article specifically, a software development company. RFPs have become a crucial element of the solicitation process to identify which vendor is best-qualified for an opportunity. Additionally, RFPs are a great way of presenting the needs of the project and transparency around project goals and vendor options.
From a contractual perspective, RFPs are the medium in which vendors convey how they interpret, address, and understand the requirements of a project and thus provide solutions that are designed to establish a joint understanding of the requirements. In many ways, for experienced software service providers such as Svitla Systems, the RFP becomes the statement of work for the contract and sets the tone for the entire project development process.
Building an RFP is a process-driven practice that has strict and rigorous rules about the elements it includes and how it should be delivered. Because RFPs contain a pool of details that range from the timeline, budget, specifications, roles, and more, organizations typically lean towards this document for large projects to describe the business and technical needs and request solutions from qualified software providers.
For software development projects specifically, RFPs help companies select the best IT companies to partner with to develop a software solution. For this reason, at Svitla Systems, we take the RFP process very seriously and present our best-in-class solution in order to demonstrate how our statement and style of work is superior compared to other outsourcing companies who participate in the solicitation process.
Who should write an RFP?
As we have said, RFPs list all the requirements and needs of a project - but who exactly writes the request for proposal? Companies typically create RFPs for an upcoming project with an imminent need l for partnerships. At Svitla Systems, when we receive an RFP, we expertly research and analyze the requirements of the RFP to carefully respond and propose comprehensive software solutions comprised of our specialized models that best fit the outline of the project.
With this premise in mind, we now look at the role of the Proposal Writer - the actual professional who writes the RFP. Proposal writers oftentimes leverage proposal software that helps format, include, and structure information into the RFP via intuitive templates and features to achieve persuasive proposals in a short amount of time.
Proposal writers usually start as researchers who draft proposals and then progress into the full-fledged career of proposal writing where they become the main point of contact across different teams and business areas to build a comprehensive RFP that covers the entire scope of the project.
RFP format for software projects
RFPs for software projects call for a specific format. This format includes several aspects and key information that must be requested to assess potential software vendors. For example, companies need to address how software development is handled as a purchase instead of a service.
The RFP format for software projects focuses heavily on the minimum viable product (MVP), which includes a particular set of features that fulfill end-user needs. At Svitla Systems, we find it extremely helpful to focus on the prioritization of crucial aspects and lower priority elements to skillfully assess when it is best to address them during the software development process. Thus, clients have a more accurate picture of the way we do business and how we value every project that comes to our attention.
For faster production processes, it is always helpful to prioritize core functionality so we can include an example of how we’ve handled such cases in the past. Additionally, a context for every software goal helps us to understand what exactly the software must deliver under technical and business circumstances.
Another key aspect that must be covered in the RFP format for software projects is the current IT infrastructure and capabilities of the company, along with a thorough description of the deployment model that must be used for the software that is about to be developed. Whether it’s software that will be hosted on-premise or in a cloud-based environment, it is important to clarify which model is preferred for the nature of the software solution.
Last but not least, it is helpful to include a spreadsheet of technical requirements in the RFP so vendors can enter their responses directly, making it easier to compare them. Keep in mind to keep these requirements prioritized for easy sorting.
Next, we are going to show you a basic RFP template for software projects that can serve as a good starting point to customize at your will.
RFP template for software projects
Here, we provide a sample RFP template for software projects to identify the elements that are involved. Any items with brackets should be replaced with the information of the company that is requesting the software service. Additionally, this sample can be edited to include or remove relevant sections for the actual project at hand.
SAMPLE RFP TEMPLATE FOR SOFTWARE PROJECTS
[Company’s name and background information]
- [Company goal 1]
- [Company goal 2]
- [Company goal 3]
To reach these goals, [your company] accepts bids in response to this Request for Proposal.
The project details are as follows:
2. The scope of work.
- [Description of the project and a detailed scope of work.]
3. Target deliverable schedule.
- [Add the date when the project must be completed.]
- The expected project completion date is [add date]. If this date is not met or needs to be adjusted, include your readjusted proposed date, as well as the reasoning for shifting the schedule. All proposed dates will be taken into consideration.
4. Existing roadblocks or technical issues.
- [Describe the time, resources, or other constraint factors that affect the proposal and the project.]
- [Your company] currently has [insert list of roadblocks.]
5. Budget constraints.
- The budget for this project is [insert dollar amount plus exchange currency information if vendors are outside the home country.]
6. Evaluation metrics.
- [Your company] evaluates bidders and proposals based on the following criteria:
- Previous experience/past performance.
- Samples and/or case studies from previous projects.
- Experience and technical expertise.
- Projected costs.
- Responsiveness and answers to questions in the following section.
7. Questions bidders must answer to be considered.
- [Create comprehensive questions that are project-related to properly assess potential vendors.]
- [Question 1]
- [Question 2]
- [Question 3]
8. Submission requirements. Bidders must adhere to the following guidelines to be considered:
- Only bidders who meet all metrics in the evaluation section should submit a proposal.
- Proposals must be sent by [insert date.]
- Interested bidders should submit the RFP and address it to [point of contact name and email address] by no later than [insert deadline.]
- Samples and references should be included along with the proposal.
- Proposals should not exceed [number] pages long.
- Failure to comply will result in an automatic rejection.
- A proposed schedule must be included and clearly expressed.
9. Contact information.
- For questions or concerns in relation to this RFP, please reach out to [point of contact name] at [point of contact phone and email address.]
What should be included in an RFP software development project?
With RFPs, organizations start out by defining the criteria that will be used to select vendors for potential partnership and deciding the most important scoring factors that will determine a winner. These elements include costs, skillset, reputation, capabilities, and more. Afterward, companies create the actual RFP structure by listing the project requirements and specific information to ensure requisites are clearly and concisely conveyed.
Organizations typically follow a basic structure for the key elements that should be included in an RFP software development project, with slight variations.
These elements are:
- Project overview.
- Company background.
- A detailed description of the project along with the reason why it is being created.
- Goals of the project.
- Sitemap (if the project is a website).
- Project scope and expected deliverables.
- Specifications about tools, technologies, methodologies, systems, and/or software that are preferred for the particular project in hand.
- Technical requirements.
- Target deliverable schedule.
- The principal point of contact.
- Web hosting.
- Analytics software.
- Potential and existing roadblocks along with contingency plans.
- Budget constraints.
- Criteria for selection based on requisites and conditions for potential vendors.
- Format and proposal timeline.
RFP vs RFI
The Request for Information (RFI) is an entirely different beast as compared to an RFP. RFIs are documents that deal with written information or clarifications about the capabilities of numerous suppliers for comparative purposes. RFIs are used to collect information for comparison and help make a business decision about the best candidate. They are typically used in combination with RFPs and with Requests for Quotation (RFQ) to solicit from potential suppliers their strategy, skills, and capabilities.
Both RFPs and RFIs are used in the early stages of vendor selection with the RFI being typically sent earlier than RFPs. The format of RFIs varies based on the details the client looks for while the RFP goes beyond basic information and requests a specific outline of the required deliverables. While both documents share key traits, the rule of thumb is that RFIs are used to request basic information to support decision-making processes while RFPs are used to prompt bids from potential vendors for specific project goals.
Svitla experience with RFP software development
In today’s competitive landscape the importance of RFPs has grown exponentially as a determining factor to select strong partnerships. Our expertise with over 15 years in the market shows that we are a serious and experienced partner for software development projects. We show each project the utmost care and consideration to provide our clients with top-notch solutions that are in line with RFP requisites. More than that, we always strive to exceed expectations through our team of talented employees and our committed style of doing business.
With projects growing in size and companies not being able to cover every single aspect of business operations, RFPs have become an essential element to request and evaluate us, potential vendors, or a software development project. Through this article, we hope to shed light on this important topic to help you navigate the pool of options available and leverage RFPs to your advantage and in the best interest of your software project.
At Svitla Systems, we understand how critical it is to respond to these RFPs diligently and smartly. We fully convey to our clients our experience and expertise in software development through various working models which include managed team extensions, build-to-order software applications, and software consulting.
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