Custom Software Development RFPs

How To Respond To Custom Software Development RFPs

Contracts are meant to create an understanding between you and your business partner to avoid any confusion and ensure that everyone understands each other’s requirements and needs.

Similarly, when looking to outsource software development tasks, you should have the perfect Request For Proposal (RFP) document to communicate your expectations to the potential vendors.

Read ahead as we outline the importance of a comprehensive RFP, what you should include in it, and everything else you need to know about it.

Importance Of an RFP

Importance Of an RFP

RFP is an essential document that details information about your project that the potential vendors should be aware of. It aids them in creating their proposal so they can participate in your project’s bid accordingly.

  • You can recognize the real capabilities of your vendor as they need to provide you with custom offers relevant to your RFP. They send a skillful team for you with expertise pertinent to your project.
  • RFP gives you different perspectives for your project with the help of various vendors. It lets the prospective vendors understand your expectations, benchmarks, and scope of work, enabling them to provide their expert insights into your project’s development.
  • You can easily compare vendors through RFP’s standardized proposal format.
  • RFP allows a bidding process that keeps the vendors’ pricing low since a pivotal reason to offshore or outsource is to lower the costs and human resources. However, make sure that you don’t make pricing the only deciding factor, but consider the appropriate skillset as well.
  • It also saves you from repeating the same information all the time since you not only need to pick software vendors but also need the data during the development process. An RFP gives you the liberty to prepare for any common vendor questions.

Furthermore, your RFP also prompts development companies to form bid processes for software development services that align with your specifications, resulting in high-quality proposals. The higher the quality of the bids, the higher the quality of the development services.

As a result, it is essential to provide as many details of the bid as possible to get good services.

What We Look For In An RFP

One of the best ways to judge potential vendors is through the RFP process, who use the same information as your company for bid response preparation. As a result, developing an RFP process structure is crucial.

An RFP process generally consists of the following activities:

  • Provision of the RFP to all vendors and a master calendar indicating the process
  • Communicate to all potential vendor-participants that you intend to solicit bids through an RFP process
  • A detailed individual response review with a short-list of around two to four final vendors
  • Execute formal contracts, including Statement of Work, Non-Disclosures, Master Service Agreements, etc.
  • A period of clarifying vendors’ questions. You can either receive all of them and respond to all vendors together through a document with all questions answered or have some questions and answers iterations, including an open all participant conference call
  • A response to each participant and feedback for everyone, including those that weren’t chosen
  • A formal planning meeting with the successful vendor
  • An official project meeting

An RFP is a crucial part of finding a software development vendor. Here are a few things you need to have in your RFP:

Project Overview

This section is essentially a summary of the RFP. It highlights the company background, challenges you have to face, and why you have decided to outsource a software development team to India (or elsewhere).

The project overview gives software developers a good sense of what they are required to do and if they can offer those services or not.

Company Background

The company background gives a preview of its history, services, vision, mission, products, and market position. It is essential for the company’s values and the development project to agree with each other. The project should also help you get a competitive advantage with intelligent solutions.

Project Parameters

This is where your company outlines the project’s vision and issues that vendors have to rectify. It would be wise also to add information about who is in charge, who uses the software, what they can do with it, and how it can help business evolution.


Project Budget

It helps to include the availability of funds in the RFP so the vendors can be mindful of the range and stay within it. Vendors can use this range to propose and figure out the cost quickly.

Scope Of Work

It can help software developers figure out the kind of services you want, such as project management, requirement analysis, software development, deploying, testing, etc.

To educate the vendors about all the issues so they can provide valuable solutions, you have to provide them with details that can help them recommend something useful.


Project Timeline

It would be best if you were mindful of including a timeline for significant achievements in the project and a date for its completion. It would be a good idea to mention an earlier completion date so possible delays and disruptions won’t hurt business.

Technical Specifications

Vendors who are well-versed in the technology, methodology, and tools required for your project will give you better proposals that match the company’s inherent processes and operations.

Make sure you communicate any obstacles and provide ample information to prepare the vendors.

Submission Requirements

The submission requirements section gives a continuous format for all RFP responses, ensuring that all answers are in your preferred structure and style. It can include references, pages number, or deadlines in a form that each vendor can fill out to streamline the process.

Vendor Information

This section provides information about the vendor, their work experience, the number of clients they have catered to if they have dealt with clients in the same field as you, etc.

Selection Criteria

When you provide a criterion to the bidders, you reduce the probability of offering you some irrelevant solution. Let them know how you will review their proposals and how vital each standard is, depending on your company’s requirements.

You can include various criteria like past projects, technical expertise, cost, speed, domain knowledge, case studies, etc.

Terms and Conditions

One of the essential parts of the contract is the terms and conditions section that will state any formal requirements that the vendors should know to do business with you. You can ask the vendor to give some specific certification and agree to sign an NDA.

Additionally, you can also specify any language you would want your future partner to speak or provide any geographical requirements you may have.

Why Don’t We Condone Fixed Price For Software Development RFPs?

A fixed price bid might seem attractive because of the expectation of minimum risk, as you know how much the bid costs. However, there are several reasons why a fixed price bid doesn’t work for software development RFPs:

  • Usually, fixed-price bids are padded for risk-contingency
  • Bidders have to make several assumptions when creating a bid because your RFP document doesn’t have all the design specifications in it
  • A fixed-price RFP doesn’t allow changes. You have to be careful of completing the document with all the software design specifications you want. If you miss anything, you’ll have to turn to a change-order process
  • Fixed-price bids generally need upfront money

Agile Opportunity Forfeited With Fixed Price

It is usually expected that a fixed-price software requires an outsourced development team to employ a waterfall methodology for development. As a result, all the powerful advantages of effective design and speed that Agile software development provides companies get forfeited.

Development teams prefer to deploy software in large phases instead of minor design and some completed work.

However, there is one instance when you can request a fixed price bid. If your work’s scope is small yet well explained in the RFP document, then you can opt for a fixed-price bid.

Different Types Of Software Development Proposals We Receive

After we respond to your RFP, you should know the fee structure and their effort levels along with other things:

  • Are there any similarities between your company and application needs with the other projects of the vendors?
  • How do they respond to your directions, and are they able to keep up with the software design instructions you have given them?
  • Check past work of the vendors and look for similarities with other software projects and yours
  • What information can you get from the references about the vendors’ work product? Were the relationships between the vendor and the company cordial or adversarial?
  • Learn about the vendors responding to the software development RFP, including their challenges and successes. Are they able to show creative problem-solving skills and flexibility?

It is essential to have a contract for any formal work relationship. When you work with software development partners, you need legal constructs to operate with them formally. These contracts are governed by US law.

These contracts protect both parties against any legal issues and are only used as a last resort. Your legal documents must have the following along with legal counsel:

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

NDAs help ensure no company-proprietary information is shared with third parties, thus preventing a breach of privacy.

Master Service Agreement (MSA)

It creates a comprehensive framework that helps you and your outsourcing partner’s relationship. Through this agreement, your company proclaims the possession of all source code and intellectual property so that the vendor can’t claim or forward it.

Statement Of Work (SOW)

This statement reiterates the fee structure and work commitments that the vendor commits to.


Contracts are essential for a healthy and fair work relationship between you and your partner. They help communicate your needs, so they provide relevant solutions and can take your company forward.

However, it is also essential to recognize that while it’s possible to restrict the technical expertise of a developer under a deal,  you cannot contract for innovation, productivity, and performance.

As a result, your software management process comes in handy, and the covenant governs your working relationship instead of the contract.

We can provide staffing solutions for your next software development project. Get in touch today!

Ryan is the VP of Operations for He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations--delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.
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Ryan Nead