According to ActiveState's research, software developers spend a majority of their time not building software but engaging with administrative tasks and experiencing plenty of downtime due to poor planning. This could mean a delay in project launch and a loss of revenue.
Avoiding this potential pitfall is quite possible if you come well-prepared when looking to outsource software development services.
Simply put, you need a solid blueprint for the entire project, from gathering project requirements to contacting potential vendors. You need a well-crafted RFP for software development.
Having already explored the RFP meaning, process and response, we will now look into the specific request for proposal documents – starting with software request for proposal.
In this article, we will analyze the importance of making an RFP document for software development, its essential components and why defining a timeline is particularly vital.
We also provide a free, downloadable software development RFP template that you can use for your purposes.
Table of Contents
- What Is an RFP for Software Development?
- Why Do You Need a Request for Proposal for Software Development?
- 10 Essential Components of RFP for Software Development
- The Timeline for a Software Request for Proposal
- RFP Template for Software Development
- The Best Software Agencies That Will Give You a Head-Start in Your Business' Journey
- Final Thoughts on Crafting an RFP for Software Development
What Is an RFP for Software Development?
A request for proposal for software development is a document that a procuring company needs to create in order to find the software development company that can supply the product that fits their business needs.
Software request for proposal contains details such as specific project requirements, product delivery timeline, contact info and others (we will list all the components of RFP software development in this article).
In return, software development vendors will submit their bids and offerings based on the company’s RFP which acts as a foundation for evaluation of each vendor’s capabilities. It is also the first step towards negotiations being held between the client and the software provider.
Why Do You Need a Request for Proposal for Software Development?
Making understandable and transparent project specifications in software development is of paramount importance. It also helps with optimizing the project timeline and budget.
Of course, the product that the chosen software development vendor will deliver must satisfy your project requirements. Therefore, the request for proposal should articulate the said requirements, mission and objectives to the vendor.
A software development request for proposal also clarifies the communication between you and a potential supplier and bridges your expectations and their capacities.
In a nutshell, RFPs benefit both the client and the vendor by:
- Streamlining the software development company research and selection process
- Revealing the strengths and weaknesses of each potential supplier
- Accelerating the negotiation process and setting expectations
- Optimizing the development time and budget
- Providing vendors with an opportunity to acquire a client
10 Essential Components of RFP for Software Development
Every request for proposal is different as it outlines information on a specific company’s unique needs for a product or a service.
However, these specific requirements can be contained in the following cornerstone components every RFP should have.
1. Introduction & Project Overview
The beginning of each software development request for proposal includes a project and document outline. Be concise, direct and as informative as possible by mentioning:
- Your company’s name and mission
- The nature of the company
- The kind of software your company needs
- The ultimate business goal that the software product should deliver
2. Company Background
This is where you will elaborate more on the first items in the introduction. Tell your prospective vendors about your company, what you do, your market and your target audience. Also, describe how the software project should fit into this general picture.
Mention things like:
- Your company’s story and origins
- The brand image you’re projecting
- Products and services that you provide
- Your location
- Your competitive landscape (who your competitors are, how they are performing, etc.)
3. Target Audience & Project Objectives
Following the general information about your company’s background and your market positioning, describe your software project’s KPIs as well as the short-term and long-term goals that you’re hoping to achieve with it.
You should also include all the available information you have on your target audience and customers, such as:
- General demographic info (age, gender, location, income, etc.)
- Psychographic info (user behavior, the digital channels they use, their habits and pain points, etc.)
- Ideal customer/user persona
Knowing these details will help the chosen software development vendor create a product that will resonate well with your target audience, help solve their pain points and generally assist your efforts in engaging with the customers.
4. Project Scope and Deliverables
This part of the RFP process is where you should define each stage of the software development project. To do so, ask yourself these questions:
- What will the project involve?
- What exactly does your company need help with?
- What features and capabilities should the software contain?
- Also, try to define the additional aspects of the software project such as:
- Project management
- Graphic design
- Testing and QA
- Software training
5. Technical Requirements
At this stage of the software development request for proposal, you should mention all the technical details that are essential for the project’s success.
- Your current IT infrastructure
- Your current software (if any)
- Apps and platforms that the new software should integrate with
- User/customer accounts
- Accessibility requirements
- Projected growth regarding scalability considerations
After outlining your technical requirements, it's worth considering specialized services that may be beneficial for your project. For instance, leveraging .NET software development services could be useful if your existing IT infrastructure is aligned with Microsoft technologies.
6. Deliverables & Schedule
The deadline for the software development project, as well as separate deadlines for each separate stage of the project, should be included in this part of the RFP.
Provide the software development vendor with a general idea of the project’s size and scope and help them visualize how the project fits into their schedule in order to prepare resources to meet the deadline.
7. Potential Hurdles
Include anything you know that may cause issues down the line while developing or implementing the software product.
Your potential software product vendor should be aware if you anticipate any future roadblocks that may cause delays or general problems. These potential issues could be:
- The current infrastructure that needs updating in order to accommodate the new project
- Potential budget issues
- Planned staff shortages and changes in your team
- Stakeholders' disagreements on the project’s aspects
If you include all of this in your RFP, it can help you find a software development company whose skills and resources may successfully manage these potential situations.
Your planned budget for the project should be included in this section, as well as any constraints you may have in that regard.
It is advisable to be as transparent as possible and express your readiness to negotiate if necessary. Also, you should outline if you prefer a fixed price or a working budget that responds as the requirements change in the process.
9. Specific Selection Criteria
Before you conclude your software development RFP document, relay your specific selection criteria to the vendors. In other words, what are you looking for in a software development company?
This could mean many things, from the company’s location and expertise to the way they handle project management. Whatever your desires are in this respect, make sure you outline them in this section.
10. Contact Info
Finally, conclude your RFP document by letting potential vendors know who the main point of contact is and the person they will address the RFP response to. This is also a fine opportunity to once again mention the deadline for the project.
The Timeline for a Software Request for Proposal
When creating the request for proposal for software development companies, setting your timeline for the project is particularly important.
There are so many aspects to software development and your potential software vendors should have enough time to ensure all stages are done well for the whole project to work. Therefore, by providing them with a reasonable timeframe, not only do you have better chances of getting an accurate quotation but also an end-product that is capable of meeting your business objectives.
Also, don’t forget to evaluate the overall complexity of your project. If you feel that it is too complex, consider highlighting the main points and shortening the process, so as not to alienate potential vendors in the initial stages of procurement.
RFP Template for Software Development
Software RFP template is useful for creating your own request for proposal from scratch, because it already contains all the essential fields and questions that just need filling out.
Here is an example of a well-rounded software request for proposal template.
Proposal Due Date:
[Your Company Name]
[An introduction that covers the state of your product and what pain points need to be tackled by the software development project.]
Your Company Description
[Describe your company and the products/services that you provide]
Software Development Project Goals:
[Define clear and achievable goals and your aims.]
● Goal 1
● Goal 2
● Goal 3
[Provide more detail for your technical requirements]
Candidate Agency Evaluation Criteria
● Criteria #1
● Criteria #2
● Criteria #3
Project Due Date:
Contact Phone Number:
The Best Software Agencies That Will Give You a Head-Start in Your Business' Journey
- Location: 3705 West Pico Boulevard #606, Los Angeles, California 90019, United States
- Average Hourly Rate: $50/hr
- Expertise: Mobile App Development, UI/UX Design, Software Development and Testing.
Working with global, blue-chip companies on the front lines of entertainment, sports and fashion, Rare Crew’s devotion to quality IT products and services to drive value and ROI is unsurpassed.
First opening its doors in 2001, Rare Crew is a burgeoning software company that delivers tailor-made solutions to businesses looking to stand out in their industry. With their backbone solidly structured around innovation, using cutting-edge tech and employing highly-talented experts to get the job done, you can rest easy knowing that your project is in great hands.
Some of their specialties include mobile app development, UI/UX design, software development and software testing.
Rare Crew clients: WME, IMG Models, Professional Bull Riders, Endeavor
- Location: Sreyas IT Solutions Pvt Ltd, Cochin, 682017, India
- Average Hourly Rate: $25/hr
- Expertise: Mobile App Development, Website Development, Drupal Develoment, Magento Development...
At Sreyas IT Solutions, the client always comes first. Their dedicated and trusted team uses a vast experience to fully understand the clients’ requirement and come up with innovative solutions according to their requirements
Sreyas' defining qualities as your IT partner are that it has a dedicated and trustworthy team of professionals, they offer a wide range of web services such as drupal development services, Magento development services, Magento migration and others.
This agency's clients include Jayalakshmi Silks, Arabic Playground and Stand Earth.
- Location: A-905-908, Safal Pegasus, Opp. Venus Atlantis, Prahlad Nagar, Ahmedabad, 380015, India
- Average Hourly Rate: $25/hr
- Expertise: Software Development, .Net Development, Outsourcing Software Development...
Positiwise Software Pvt Ltd provides end-to-end software development solution which accelerates digital growth of any business. They have more than 10 years of experience in sectors like Retail, E-commerce, CRM, Web Security Services, Cloud and Database Optimizations.
Their services are driven by a team of professionals with expertise in handling simple to complex business requirements. They also deliver Web Security & Cloud solutions like SSL Certificates, Brute force attacks, DDoS mitigations, Vulnerability scans, DSS-PCI Certification and others.
Positiwise clients hail mostly from retail, hospitality and fintech industries.
4. InData Labs
- Location: 16, Kyriakou Matsi, Eagle House, Agioi Omologites, Nicosia, 1082, Cyprus
- Average Hourly Rate: $65/hr
- Expertise: Marketing Analytics & Big Data, Software Development, Machine Learning, Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things...
With a team of over 80 expert engineers, no problem is too complex for InData Labs. Established in 2014, the company is one of the leaders in data science and artificial intelligence. They have worked with clients worldwide, from the US to the UK and EU, with a figure of 150+ successful projects.
In terms of development services, they specialize in big data consulting, data analytics, data infrastructure and engineering, data visualization, and AI research and development (R&D).
Wargaming.net, Captiv8, FLO, and Naexas Compas Group are among their clients.
- Location: ul. Małachowskiego 5, 80-262 Gdansk
- Average Hourly Rate: Inquire
- Expertise: Product Engineering, Software Development, Hardware Projects, Support.
Established in 2017, Innokrea boasts years of experience in IT, implementation, and consulting projects. Their 20+ programmers are experts in dedicated systems and web and mobile apps.
They offer free consultation online, which is where every client partnership with Innokrea begins. This is followed by an optimization study before the implementation of the project. The agency's expertise goes beyond the technical — they also provide graphic design solutions.
Innokrea's clients include Siemens, Grywit, Grupa Komputronik, and Invest Komfort.
- Location: 258, Patrakar Colony Rd Dholai, Jaipur, 302029, India
- Average Hourly Rate: $25/hr
- Expertise: eCommerce Development, Small Business eCommerce Development, Mobile App Development, Android App Development...
Competenza Innovare is your one-stop shop for all things development. Be it a software program, a mobile app, or a website, no project is too big or too small for their pool of highly skilled developers.
Their team specializes in a wide array of technologies, from front-end and back-end to mobile tech, database, CMS, and cloud technology. Aside from development services, Competenza Innovare also offers digital marketing, content marketing, and maintenance and support.
The agency’s clients span across industries, such as restaurants, real estate, finance, travel, and entertainment.
- Location: Stefana Okrzei 1a/10, Warszawa, 03-711, Poland
- Average Hourly Rate: $35/hr
- Expertise: Mobile App Development, Android App Development, iPhone App Development, Enterprise Mobile App Development...
For any kind of software development needs, Modsen Software has the expertise to tackle any technical challenges for your business. They boast a broad high-end technology stack, allowing them to respond to every client's unique needs.
As a software engineering partner, they can integrate into your in-house team to boost operations, increase productivity, and add real value to your business.
Modsen Software boasts a wide portfolio of successful projects in FinTech, MedTech, social networking, travel, and IoT, among others.
- Location: 121 N 9th Street #101, Boise, Idaho 83702, United States
- Average Hourly Rate: $170
- Expertise: eCommerce Development, Mobile App Development, Node.js Development, React Native...
Ventive is a four-time INC 5000 honoree and has earned the reputation as one of Boise’s most respected app development agencies. Featured in Forbes, Ventive is a user-experience-driven development agency with extensive workflow management/automation expertise, uniquely positioned to leverage our experience to design, develop, and deploy a flexible, scalable and lovable product.
The agency has designed intuitive and enjoyable user experiences across industries from healthcare to fintech, education to government, no workflow is too complex to make simple and no technical challenge is out-of-bounds. They specialize in full-cycle app development and have special interest in cloud, Web 3.0, Blockchain and numerous other fields.
9. MMC Global
- Location: 501 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701, United States
- Average Hourly Rate: $45/hr
- Expertise: Software Development, Machine Learning, IT Services
MMC Global is a software development company that partners with top businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises, and innovative companies to elevate their value through custom software development, product design, QA and other services.
They prioritize quality, testing, and timely delivery of outstanding software using a range of tools and a unique workflow for development projects. Their team of dedicated and skilled engineers and developers utilize software development technologies like NetSuite, C#, React Native and Dropal. They also provide UI/UX design and software testing to assist clients in achieving outstanding results.
The agency's clients range from fintech and healthcare companies to retail and food delivery services.
- Location: Khimichna St., Lviv, 79000, Ukraine
- Average Hourly Rate: $42
- Expertise: Educational App Development, Fintech Software Development, Outsourcing Software Development, Software Development...
We build an expert team around each project. The team is solely dedicated to one product and works directly with a client. Working with our engineers is exactly the same as working with your own team: direct communication, full accountability, transparency, and shared goals. With our agile process, you’ll see progress earlier, collaborate with our team tightly, achieve a quick time to market, and enjoy high development ROI.
Final Thoughts on Crafting an RFP for Software Development
While there is no strict template for writing an RFP document for software development, the guidelines in this article will provide you with an essential blueprint for writing an RFP that suits your requirements.
Essentially, a similar template can be used for writing requests for proposals for any other service a company may need, including:
- Mobile app development RFP
- Digital marketing RFP
- Website design RFP
- RFP for SEO
- Branding RFP
- Web development RFP
- Social Media RFP
- RFP for IT services
- eCommerce RFP
While writing your RFP for software development, don’t forget to involve relevant departments and relevant stakeholders to help you define your business goals and project requirements more accurately.