Writing an RFP for Software Development: Guide

February 16, 2024

Do you want to write a request proposal for your project but are unsure how to get started and what to include? Are you curious about what happens after you've sent out your RFP? If your answer is yes, then you've come to the right place.

Here at Cloud Employee, we work with companies looking to hire professional offshore developers in the Philippines. In this article, we will address the topic of what precisely an RFP or request proposal for software development is. Next, we'll answer the question of what software development companies use an RFP for. Finally, we'll go into details about how to write an RFP and what is included in one.

What is an RFP?

If you've been in the tech industry for a while, the chances are that you have a good idea of what an RFP is. However, if you aren't particularly familiar with this term, or need a clear definition of what it is, then this is the place to be.

A request proposal is written when searching for a software development company or vendor to work with. If you have a software tool or project that you need to build and are looking for a software company to help you execute the project, then writing an RFP will help you choose a vendor that is a good fit. Included in an RFP are details about your project, such as time frame, budget, and technical requirements.

How do Software Development Companies Use RFP?

When you send a well put together request proposal to software development companies, you should expect to hear a response from them. Companies interested in executing your project will, in turn, send you a detailed proposal and quotes based on your RFP. This will further allow you to compare action plans and bids so that you can select the right vendor.

Even more, these companies will inform you whether a Time and Material or a Fixed Price billing is the best pricing system for you. One of the advantages of writing an RFP is that it saves you a lot of time. You don't have to communicate for lengthy periods with a long list of companies to narrow down your options. Instead, when you send out an RFP, companies that do not have the required technological capacity, staff, or skills needed for your project will simply move on to something else. So it's a way to weed out any bad fits and streamline operations by cutting downtime.

How To Write A Request Proposal (Rfp) For Software Development

Now that you know what a request proposal is, let's dive into the juicy bit – writing one. A few elements are typically included in a request proposal for software development, which we will highlight in detail. You can use this as your template when you want to write yours. The components of an RFP are as follows:

Introduction/project overview:

This is the first section of your RFP, so it needs to be detailed yet concise. It sounds like a conundrum, but best believe that it's not impossible. Under this section, give an overview of the project you need to execute. You should also include the content of your RPF. Often, a vendor can tell whether they want to engage in a project or just by reading this section, which is why it is imperative to include details that give them a quick rundown of what is included in the rest of the request proposal. When writing your introduction, opt for short and informative sentences.

Company background:

Under the Company background section, you have to write a little bit about your company and what need it meets. You can also include some information about how your project fits your business's overall scheme and brand. When writing this section, a couple of necessary details to have are:

  • The story behind your company
  • How long it has been up and running
  • How big your company is in terms of staff
  • A list of all the products and services that you offer
  • The number of offices and where they are located
  • How your business is able to stand out in the midst of competition

Goals and targets:

After detailing your company background, you need to go into detail about your project goals and target audience. This section is where you explain a couple of details about the project, such as what it's meant to achieve and who your target audience is. Doing this will provide vendors with information about the kind of project it is. When they respond, they can even give you some feedback and advice on how to nail the project execution better.

Project scope:

Here, you should include all the stages of your project. Be sure to include details like what each stage involves and how long it is predicted to last. Project Scope is also the place to address specific things you will need the software development company to help you with. Also, provide insight into the kind of software you want to build and whet it will comprise.

In addition, aim to include any additional aspects you'll need to outsource from the software company, such as project management, software training, graphic design, etc. That way, the company knows exactly what you need in terms of staff and talent.

Technical requirements:

Under the technical requirements section, you should highlight all the technical details necessary for your project. Here, you'll want to include and describe details such as your existing technological infrastructure and other platforms you want your software to integrate with (for example, think of how apps like Zoom and Google Drive integrate with the Slack platform).

Even more, consider adding any devices or systems your software should be able to work on. To do this, ask yourself questions like "will the software only be available on mobile phones, or will it work on computers as well?" Also, consider accessibility and user accounts, etc.

Target deliverable schedule:

Your target deliverable schedule is essentially the deadline for your project, and this needs to be stated in your RFP. You should also include the deadline for all the stages of the project, but be prepared to negotiate. Including your project deadline is crucial because it will help vendors decide if they can realistically complete the project on time.

Potential roadblocks:

Do you know anything that might pose a problem while executing your project? If yes, then you'll have to share your concerns in this section. Software companies need to know if you foresee any possible delays or problems. That way, they can decide if they have the skills, expertise, or infrastructure to deal with these challenges as they arise.

Budget:

You need to include the prepared budget for your project in this section. However, be ready for some negotiation because you may not have thought of everything, and getting responses from companies will make you realize that. You should equally specify whether you want to go for a fixed price pricing system or opt for an agile development approach, which would mean that the requirements and costs might change along the way.

Specifics:

Here, you can include any specific requirements you feel are essential. When writing this section, ask yourself what you're looking for in a software development company because your answer will help you write this part better. For example, are there specific expertise or project management approaches you feel your project needs, and the company should be able to provide?

Is there a specific time zone or location that is important? Include all these specific requirements here, so the vendors know precisely the kind of company you're looking for. At the end of the day, it will make your selection process easier.

Point of contact:

This is typically the final section of a request proposal. Once you have provided all the information regarding your project, you need to include a point of contact section, so vendors and companies that want to send back proposals know exactly who to contact and how to reach them. You should include a phone number and email address. Also, an essential piece of information to add here is the response deadline, so interested companies know when to submit their proposals.

To Summarise

Writing an RFP can be a pretty straightforward thing if you know what you're doing, and thanks to the detailed list above, now you do. Keep in mind that there are a couple of other things you can do to ensure that your RFP is as effective as possible.

Ensure you provide context and go into as much detail as possible, as this would save you and your potential vendors' time. Also, have an idea of what your must-haves are to not compromise on essential details. Don't send your RFP to too many vendors at a go, as this can overwhelm you, and finally, once you've sent your request proposal, give the vendors enough time to respond.