RFP (Request-for-Proposal) is a document that outlines your problems and business needs for potential vendors to evaluate and provide solutions. Similar documents include RFQ (Request-for-Quotation), used when a client wants to get price estimates only, and RFI (Request-for-Information), that is used for vendor research. We often notice, that our partners occasionally struggle with creating RFPs. The aim of this blog post is to provide some practical advice, guidelines, and recommendations on what to keep in mind when creating a software development RFP.
1. Make MVP your priority
When preparing your RFP, it is important always to keep in mind an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Almost every project has a particular set of features that compiles a solution able to fulfill the end-user needs. For example, the most crucial aspect of a chat app is an ability to exchange messages. Custom backgrounds for the app, on the other hand, could be considered a feature of lower priority. So prioritizing the list of features is one of the best RFP process practices that will increase the accuracy of the evaluation.
2. Don’t ask to make “a Facebook” but do provide examples
Frequently, we hear our potential clients saying something similar to “Make us a copy of *an app* and include *a feature*”. While this is a rather basic way one pitches an idea to someone, this approach usually results in a misunderstanding of solution’s functionality on the evaluation stage.
Every application has a lot of costly features, which may not be needed for a particular custom solution. Putting all features in a list is always a good idea. This will help to prioritize core functionality, which will result in a faster production process. Despite that, it is always a good idea to include an example of an already existing solution that could illustrate what exactly you are looking to make.
3. Show business value of your idea in RFP
A list of features is nothing if it doesn’t include a context. One of the RFP best practices is including an explanation of a business goal you wish to achieve using this solution. This will help your potential vendor to better understand what exactly this software must do in the context of your existing business needs. While analyzing the contextualized solution, a technical specialist will be able to utilize their experience and quickly point to possible ways to come up with an efficient solution.
4. Share your experience
If you have already worked with software outsourcing companies, don’t hesitate to share your experience — positive or negative. Learning about negative experience gives us more insights into possible pitfalls. This also provides us with a better understanding of your inner production processes. This information will help to avoid similar problems from happening by choosing a better engagement model for the project. A positive experience allows to double down on previous successes and improve the further work.
5. Ask for expertise if you don’t know how to solve a problem
It is not necessary to pre-decide the stack, design a solution and approach a vendor with specific steps in mind. It is perfectly normal to have a goal, but have no idea how to reach it. A well defined and contextualized idea is enough for us to plan, analyze, and estimate.
RFP is an important step in custom software development. We hope that this blog post gave you all the necessary insides into the request for proposal guidelines that will improve your RFP preparation and decision-making processes.
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