How to write an RFP for software development so that a software vendor gets it right? First off, start looking for a vendor once you clearly understand what you need. You should be able to precisely articulate your project goal, challenges, and requirements. No matter where you are searching for a developer, you will need to provide them with project requirements. Moreover, these must be designed in such a way as to avoid ambiguity and convey the project goal as accurately as possible.  

After all, the better your requirements are described, the more accurate the received technical proposal will be. Traditionally, the initial statement of the problem is called a request for proposal (RFP). In this article, we will share tips on how to write an RFP so that developers get it right. 

What is an RFP in software development? 

A Request for Proposals (RFP) is a document for software development that contains detailed information about a specific project. It is used to request proposals from various vendors that you have previously selected for their ability and expertise to complete a project. It invites candidates to submit a proposal for how they will handle the project, covering everything from required resources to costs. 

request for proposal for software

RFP structure 

Let’s take a look at the sectors that an RFP template for software development should include. 

Company contact 

In the beginning, you tell your potential developers who they will be communicating with. This involves the specific person who will be a contact point between you and the service providers. This person can be you, a manager, a team leader, or any other person you want to be responsible for processing proposals. 

Company description 

It doesn’t matter if your business has just started its journey or if you are all over the pages of every paper: you need to introduce yourself. A short resume with the name, industry, main products or services, and business development priorities will be enough to get an idea of your business. 

Format and timeline for proposals 

This section provides your potential partners with the information they need to know how you will handle your offers. Here you will need to specify in detail when you will contact development companies, when you expect them to submit their proposals, how long you expect to spend on analyzing them, and when you expect to start the project. 

Using specific time frames will help better organize your searches and encourage companies to respond to you when expected and in the RFP format for software projects you require. 

Project overview 

Here, you will need to lay out some of the most important details of your project so that your partner knows what you expect from them. Describe the challenges you need to solve, not the actual solution to the problem. 

You will likely try to outline the exact solutions and details, but there is no need to describe your entire idea here. 

Project objectives 

In this part of the request for proposal software development, you need to include the requirements for the final product and the specific goals you want to achieve with them. Finally, it’s a good idea to add some details about your target audience here, as interacting with them is almost always the goal of all software development projects. 

Scope of work and deliverables 

How will your product function? Try to describe what you plan to create, what benefits and values this solution is expected to bring.  

Here you will need to dive deeper into your project, explaining the resources you expect to be involved in. Identify a potential timeline for the project completion, including the deadline, and list the results that you expect over the course of your project. 

Technical requirements 

The more accurately you describe the technical challenges and the features you’d like to get, the more accurate the project costs will be. To make the software development proposal as specific as possible, indicate the following things:  

  • Solution visualization. Requirements for design and features of the software.  
  • Functional components. Describe what functions should be implemented, what its elements should be responsible for, and what requirements you set for these elements.  
  • Technical components. The most important part of the proposal is the technology stack that will be used to develop the software solution. Will it be bespoke software or an out-of-the-box solution?  

Budget details 

Communicate the size of the budget in the request for proposal software template. Specify the price range so that the suppliers can see whether they are financially suitable for your project. 

Some contractors can help you modify your project to suit your budget. They can do this by prioritizing work correctly, eliminating non-essential elements and functions, and leaving them to be done later. This way, you can have a more manageable project that can be scaled up later.  

Evaluation criteria 

Provide a list of evaluation criteria that you pay special attention to when choosing a software vendor for your project.  

Some of the criteria include: 

  • pricing 
  • determination of the scope  
  • existing experience 
  • data security guarantees 

Reviewing process 

The final selection of RFP is made through analyzing responses to requests for proposals, follow-up questions, and interviews with selected candidates. Before looking at all the information, it is helpful to set up a point system. This analysis of responses can reveal patterns and details even in similar sentences. One of the scoring methods is based on assigning points. A point is awarded based on how well the answer meets the needs of the company. The applications with the highest score are then selected. 

Here’s an example of how you can rate your suggestions: 

  • 5 points: meets all your requirements 
  • 4 points: meets most of your requirements 
  • 3 points: meets many of your requirements, but requires some changes 
  • 2 points: meets some of your requirements 
  • 1 point: does not meet your requirements 

RFP for software development template 

request for proposal software development

Here is a sample RFP for software development. 

[The current date] 

[Project Name] 

Company contact information 

  • [Leave the contact information by which your company can be contacted: contact person, phone number, and/or email.] 

Company Description 

  • [Write the name and basic information about your company.] 

Format and timeline for proposals 

  • [Please specify in detail when the development companies will contact you.] 
  • [Indicate when you expect them to submit their proposals.] 
  • [How much time you are planning to spend analyzing proposals.] 
  • [When you plan to start a project.] 

Project overview 

  • [State some of the most important details of your project so that your partner knows what you expect from them.] 
  • [Describe the problems you need to solve.]

Project objectives 

  • [Company objective 1] 
  • [Company objective 2] 
  • [Company objective 3] 

To achieve these goals, [your company] accepts applications from service providers. 

Describe all the details of the project: 

Scope of work and results 

  • [Describe your project and determine how much work needs to be done.] 
  • [Decide on a timeline for completing your project.]

Technical requirements 

  • [Specify your requirements for software design and features.] 
  • [Describe what functions should be implemented, what its elements should be responsible for, and what requirements you set for these elements.] 
  • [Determine technology to develop a software solution.]

Budget details 

  • [Enter the total amount of your budget in USD]

Evaluation criteria 

  • Indicate by what criteria your company evaluates offers from contractors: 
  • vendor experience and achievements; 
  • examples of past work; 
  • the technical expertise of the contractor; 
  • expected financial costs. 

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You can adhere to the explicit structure of the document, or you can present the information in any format, but if your request for proposal for software contains the sectors described here, the likelihood that the commercial proposals received in response will be drawn up with an understanding of the project goals and objectives increases significantly.