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RFP for Software Development: Best Practices and Templates in 2024

Bohdana Muzyka
Lead Business Analyst at TechMagic, with a background in Project Management and QA, mentor, and speaker. Passionate about Business Analysis and Product Design.
RFP for Software Development: Best Practices and Templates in 2024

According to the Forbes Technology Council, one of the leading causes of software project failures is the lack of clear requirements. With this in mind, businesses aspiring for a top-notch software vendor must articulate their needs meticulously from the outset.

This is where the Request for Proposal (RFP) comes into play. An effective RFP is transparent, objective, and precise. It not only mitigates risks but also equips potential software development providers with the vital details. The more vivid you outline your requirements, the more precise the technical solutions you receive will be.

Statistics reveal that companies suffer an average annual revenue loss of $725,000 due to poorly crafted RFPs. These RFPs not only drain financial resources but also lead to protracted software development timelines, often far from the desired ones. Naturally, you wouldn't want your project to face such setbacks. Hence, it's essential to pay attention to your software development RFP.

What is a Request For Proposal in Software Development?

An RFP is a comprehensive document created by a client before selecting a vendor to launch a software product. This document meticulously describes the project, encompassing its objectives, scope of work, expected deliverables, and more.

Also, an RFP outlines the requirements and expectations of a tech project to solicit proposals from potential providers. It serves as a critical tool in initiating negotiations between both.

Here's how it works: You draft an RFP and distribute it to potential software development providers. Interested vendors carefully review this document and respond, indicating their ability to execute your project. Subsequently, you can select the most suitable development company for your needs and goals.

A software development RFP offers advantages to customers and potential partners:

rfp for software

Why Does Comprehensive RFP Matter?

A well-prepared software development RFP empowers you to compare vendor offers more efficiently. When vendors receive a comprehensive RFP, they can deliver proposals that align closely with your project's requirements and encompass the entire project scope accurately.

Without a clear RFP, you may find yourself saturated with inquiries or, worse, vendors submitting proposals that lack a clear understanding of the project, potentially resulting in inaccurate or incomplete proposals.

The level of detail in your RFP directly correlates with the precision of vendors' offers. Vendors require comprehensive information to assess the work, identify potential risks, and craft precise proposals. The RFP helps clarify expectations, timelines, budgetary constraints, and the technical feasibility of development, leading to more realistic project estimates.

Key Components of an Effective RFP in Software Development

Key Components of an Effective RFP in Software Development

While there's no one-size-fits-all template, incorporating the following sections can ensure clarity and consistency in your RFP:

Project Overview and Company Introduction

Begin by summarizing your project's objectives and requirements. Provide a concise yet comprehensive overview of your project, emphasizing its business goals rather than delving into technical details. Clearly outline the fundamental software requirements and any limitations of your current system. Explain the areas in software development you seek to enhance and provide insights into your target audience, including their needs and the specific problems your product aims to address.

Additionally, offer a brief introduction to your company, shedding light on its background and mission. This context will help potential software vendors align their proposals with your overall business vision.

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Project Scope and Expected Deliverables

The project scope forms the heart of your RFP and is likely the most extensive section. This segment is a foundation for software development vendors to estimate costs and create proposals. When delineating your project's scope, consider the following components:

If you're a startup seeking a software partner, it's crucial to assess the vendor's infrastructure capabilities, focusing on scalability and security. Request detailed information about their hardware and software infrastructure, intellectual property protection, data security protocols, and access management.

Product requirements can vary widely based on your desired features and functionality. Outline your expectations for the final product, specifying features and functionality you wish to achieve.

Define your expectations regarding the vendor's project management tools and methodologies. If you intend to implement Agile methodologies like Scrum, Lean, or Kanban, clearly state this preference. Additionally, outline your preferred team structure (remote, dedicated, hybrid) and communication methods within the project team.

Given the critical role of quality assurance in successful software delivery, include inquiries about the vendor's testing tools and approaches, as well as their documentation standards. Ask how vendors plan to adapt their testing processes to align with your project's unique requirements.

Budget Considerations

While cost-effectiveness is tempting, it's prudent to specify a budget range to avoid deterring highly qualified vendors. Also, contemplate including an estimate template that itemizes costs for each required product feature. Organize this document into a spreadsheet with separate tabs for various functional areas.

Step-by-Step Guide for Creating the RFP for Software Development

Step-by-Step Guide to Create the RFP for Software Development

Step 1: Define Project Details

This section provides vital information about your company. Include details on your company's activities, the products and services it offers, its mission, core values, and target audience.

It's advisable to relate this information to your software idea, emphasizing its significance for your business, the value it will bring, and how it will benefit consumers. If you're seeking to improve an existing solution, describe the shortcomings and areas that require enhancement, along with desired features.

Project Goals

Focus on measurable business needs and quantifiable goals. Address how the software will benefit users, enhance customer service, and assist your clients. Ensure that your quantitative metrics are traceable and express goals in business terms, leaving technical intricacies for later stages.

Project Scope

Be comprehensive in your description, even if you don't delve into technical specifics, as you would in a project specification. The primary objective is to eliminate "blind spots" and provide vendors with all the necessary information regarding the services and the expected deliverables.

Clearly define the project scope within your RFP. In some cases, it's beneficial to separate the technical scope from other aspects for ease of reading.

Project Management

Determine the individuals overseeing the entire project pipeline and to what extent. Describe the preferred management format, whether it's a dedicated team, remote supervision, coordination by the provider, or a hybrid solution.

Additionally, specify the communication methods with the team, time milestones for receiving and evaluating interim results, and the tools to be used, such as Jira or Trello. If you have a particular resource in mind, inquire if it aligns with the provider's capabilities.

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Define a clear budget framework for the project, whether it's a specific monetary figure, an acceptable hourly rate, or a budgetary range you intend to adhere to. Additionally, make note of any specific budget constraints, including disbursement schedules and fiscal year allocations.

Key Questions:

  • Is there flexibility within the budget, or are there rigid constraints?
  • Are there stipulated periods for budget utilization?
  • Who holds the authority to approve the final budget?

Clearly indicate any resource limitations, whether they are currently in place or potential constraints. This information assists companies in evaluating their capacity to complete the project under the given conditions, allowing you to select the most suitable candidate.

Contact Information

Ensure easy accessibility for potential vendors by providing contact information for the project lead or sourcing manager who can address vendor inquiries during the RFP process. It's important to note that this contact person may not necessarily be the same individual leading the project's execution.

  • [Company Name]
  • [Name of Point of Contact]
  • [Email]
  • [Phone Number]

Step 3: Specify Needed Services

Now it's time to delve into the specifics of the services you require to achieve your objectives. Whether you're developing a web or mobile development app, precision is key. Highlight your specific needs and expertise expectations.

Consider the following approaches for articulating your service requirements effectively in your RFP. For example, if it's a mobile app, emphasize skills in responsive design and building for various mobile platforms.

Start by outlining the high-level scope and then dive into specific project requirements and deliverables. Where possible, clarify how you intend to measure the success of each deliverable.

Answer the questions:

  • What specific services are you seeking?
  • What project expertise do you require?
  • What level of project management support is necessary?
  • What post-launch support services are anticipated?
  • What criteria will be used to assess the success of each deliverable?

List all the features you expect in your product, and outline the requirements your future partner must adhere to in product development. Consider both backend and frontend requirements, and request information from providers regarding the availability of relevant experts, including solution architects, analysts, designers, and specialists in cloud integration and security, among others.

Development and QA

Regardless of the choice, describe your expectations for these processes, including who will be responsible for communication once software development starts, and how adjustments will be managed if needed. Request detailed information from providers regarding their quality control policies, tools, and QA approaches.

Step 4: Address Project Challenges

Transparency is paramount when addressing potential obstacles to project success during the bidding process. By openly discussing these challenges, you invite potential partners to propose effective solutions.

Failure to communicate these barriers can lead to:

  • Misunderstandings about project scope and difficulties.
  • Delays in project timelines and increased costs.
  • A lack of trust between your company and the vendor team.

Openly acknowledge any challenges or barriers to success in your RFP. This transparency empowers vendors to propose strategies for overcoming these obstacles, increasing the likelihood of finding the right partner and ensuring project success.

Step 5: Specify Your Selection Criteria

The next crucial step is detailing your selection criteria. In this section, you can emphasize the essential skills, services, and market expertise required for consideration. Being specific with these criteria is vital, as it reduces the risk of sifting through proposals that don't align with your project's needs. Well-defined selection criteria pave the way for an informed decision-making process when choosing the best vendor for your project.

Specifying selection criteria early in the process promotes transparency. Vendors can gauge whether they meet these criteria, allowing them to submit proposals tailored to your needs or opt out if they do not.

Moreover, evaluating vendors against these criteria ensures that project awards are based on objective judgment rather than subjective opinions. Some examples of selection criteria to include in your RFP are:

  • Experience
  • Qualifications
  • Cost
  • Similar Cases
  • Methodology
  • Availability
  • Technical Compatibility

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Step 6: Specify Your Project's Timeline

Clearly communicate whether you have a specific timeline in mind or are open to flexibility regarding the project's commencement and final product delivery. This information lets vendors plan their resources accordingly, aligning with your desired timeframe.

A well-defined timeline benefits all parties throughout the bidding process. It clarifies to vendors when your project must be completed, enabling them to plan resources effectively and ensure timely delivery. Additionally, vendors can communicate crucial deadlines to their teams, reducing the risk of delays and ensuring the successful delivery of your project on schedule.

Answer the following questions:

  • What are the dependencies that could influence the project's execution?
  • What repercussions might arise if the project deadline is not met
  • Are there specific milestones to be achieved, or is there a single, overarching project delivery deadline?

Pro tip: You can keep it straightforward with a single delivery date or provide multiple project milestone dates. Example:

  1. Project kickoff - [DD/MM/YYYY]
  2. MVP delivery - [DD/MM/YYYY]
  3. Final product delivery - [DD/MM/YYYY]

Specify deadlines and preferred dates for vendors' responses and actions. Provide ample time for companies to conduct a thorough and comprehensive assessment of the project and budget requirements. However, maintain clear timelines to identify candidates who take them seriously.

You can present this data as text or in a table format with deadline dates. Include details like:

  • RFP publication date
  • Deadlines for responses (a range or a specific date)
  • Timeframe for reviewing received applications
  • Dates for meetings with providers (interviews or clarifications)
  • Final vendor selection date
  • Optional project start date

Step 7: Proofread Your RFP

Diligently proofread your RFP, and then do it again. Why? Because even minor errors can potentially disrupt project timelines. Imagine a single digit missing from your budget or a miscommunication regarding proposal submission and selection dates. Such errors could necessitate restarting the entire RFP process, wasting valuable time.

  • Does your RFP include a clearly defined process timeline, complete with a submission deadline?
  • Have you provided contact details for a representative within your organization who can address inquiries or direct them to the appropriate person?
  • Has your RFP undergone review and received approval from all key stakeholders?

Remember, the more detailed and exhaustive your RFP, the more precise the offers will be.

Your objective is to encourage as many proposals as possible and facilitate vendor responses. Even a minor typo, like an overlooked project name or incorrect contact information, can hinder response rates significantly.

*Provide recommendations or a pre-defined response format for the software development RFP. The format should enable suppliers to include the following information:

  • Company name and a brief description of services/areas of expertise
  • Location of research and development (R&D) centers and the possibility of remote work
  • Product vision, including a rough plan, management opportunities, feature suggestions, and potential challenges
  • Planned team composition, along with qualifications
  • Project start and end date estimates
  • Estimated project budget
  • Preferred approaches and plans of the company
  • Submission of project proposal in PDF format to [company email]
  • Additional considerations, such as post-deployment support and employee training.

Clearly define your expectations for each proposal. Elaborate on the specifics as comprehensively as possible, as this uniformity in proposal structure streamlines the evaluation and comparison process.

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Summing Up

With the right approach, you can confidently select the best software development company for your needs. Ensure your vision for the future software is crystal clear, leaving no room for ambiguity or vague descriptions. Consider collaborating with a software provider offering Discovery Phase services if this proves challenging.

Remember that your collaborator is there to help you achieve the best possible software solution. Don't hesitate to share project details with the company while respecting non-disclosure agreements.

Why choose TechMagic for software product development:

  • A company with 9 years of industry experience.
  • A team of qualified and certified experts, including solution architects, business analysts, QA engineers, and DevOps specialists.
  • As an outsourcing provider, we offer competitive prices and flexible collaboration models.
  • Comprehensive services covering custom web and mobile development, UI/UX design, quality assurance, and more.

Your project's success is our priority.


  1. Why is using the best RFP template important for software development projects?

    Using the best RFP (Request for Proposal) template is crucial for software development projects because it lays the foundation for a successful partnership with your chosen software development vendor.

  2. Can I customize the provided RFP template for my specific project?

    Yes, you can and should customize the provided RFP template to align with the unique requirements of your specific software development project. It should accurately reflect your project's goals, challenges, and technical specifications, making it more attractive to potential vendors and increasing the likelihood of receiving tailored responses.

  3. How can I ensure that the RFP template attracts suitable software development vendors?

    Clearly define your project's goals, technical requirements, and evaluation criteria. Additionally, consider contacting reputable software development organizations or industry networks to distribute your RFP to a targeted audience of potential vendors.

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Ross Kurhanskyi
Head of partner engagement