How to write a request for proposal for a development project (+ FREE TEMPLATE)

Request for proposal

If you need a development partner to build a website or an app, communicating your project’s scope, particular business needs, and possible constraints is vital. Before you hire a development provider, you need to straighten these things out, and a request for proposal (RFP) can help you with that.

TRIARE is a reputed development company with expertise in transportation software and education mobile apps. We’ve done over 100 projects now, and RFPs have proven to be a good first step in customers’ business success.

 

Definition of an RFP and its importance

A request for proposal, or RFP, is a document where a company describes their project inviting proposals from providers that can fulfill its requirements. It makes sense to create such a document if you have a list of vendors you know might be interested and you want to choose the best-fitting partner among them.

A clearly written request for proposals builds a foundation for an effective collaboration, as it eliminates possible gray areas and minimizes rounds of meetings and explanations. In a broader context, it also helps you understand your project needs better right from the start and ensures that the final product is delivered according to your idea, plan, and budget.

How to write a request for proposal?

Even though there’s a typical structure for a proposal request, you’re never limited in how you want to organize your RFP and what you want to include. The major thing is, it has to be clear in what you expect from providers’ proposals and how you’ll evaluate them.

To write a request for proposals, follow these steps:

  • Describe your project. Briefly explain what your company does and what type of product you need developed.
  • Specify your goals. Describe an end solution you want to receive, what features are a must-have, how it should behave, etc. You can describe the problems you want to solve with the new solution, the audience it will be targeted at, and any other nuances that are essential for your idea.
  • Outline the scope of work. Specify the timeframe and budget for your project. If you’re flexible about the scope or don’t know it yet, you might say in your proposal request that you’re open to negotiation or need a consultation on how much money and time it will take.
  • Write down technical requirements. If you’re searching for a particular tech stack, outline it in the document, as well as the level of skill and expertise you’d like to have in a provider.
  • Mention the major challenges and possible barriers. If you know about some complications, it’s better to communicate them off the bat. For instance, if you want to rebuild a solution started by another provider, describe what went wrong and what the new team should pick up in the existing piece of software.
  • Tell about your evaluation criteria and submission requirements. Vendors that will receive your request for proposals need to understand what you expect from them and when. Specify the due date for submitting proposals and what should be included in them. You can ask for a short description of their services and previous experience that is relevant to your project. There are certain things that you can either position yourself or ask vendors to complete in their proposals—for instance, pricing models and methods of payment.

request for proposal

You can add extra steps to your RFP if it makes sense for your business idea. For example, in an app development request for proposal, you can specify operating systems separately and the preferred method of development (native or cross-platform). Or, you can include a separate section dedicated to different types of users your solution will have to help development providers understand what you need.

As a response to your request, contacted vendors will send you their proposals, among which you’ll choose the best one. They will include what you ask for: description of their services, examples of finished work or case studies, overview of the solution they envision based on your needs, roadmap for development, design, and maintenance, etc. When evaluating, check if they included everything you required and then assess their bids based on industry expertise, range of experience and skills, or other criteria you find useful.

 

What is a request for a quote and when is it used?

Another document that is similar to a request for proposal is a request for quote (RFQ), which is sometimes used together with an RFP or as the first step leading to an RFT. It’s a much smaller document that doesn’t need a lot of project details—you only have to ask vendors to send their price quotes based on your needs.

Typically, a request for quote is used when a company has very specific technical and business requirements that don’t allow for much room in terms of innovation, scaling, heavy customization, etc. Businesses send these documents to a list of already well-known providers to select the one that offers the lowest price bid while meeting all qualifying criteria.

 

Request for proposal vs. request for quote

Let’s explore the differences between these two documents so that you better understand which one you have to create for your project.

RFP

RFQ

Purpose of the document To find the best development firm that fits the project’s agenda and has the right know-how to implement it in a successful way and within specified timeframe and budget. To find the best development firm that is capable of implementing the requested solution at the lowest price.
Major aspects included Overview of the problems you want to solve, functionality of the solution, desired scope of work, technical requirements, possible barriers Overview of the solution, technical requirements, pricing and payment details
Information requested Description of provided services and their cost, success record Timeframe and cost estimate, payment terms
Recipients Wide range of vendors Narrow list of vendors, usually already well-known
Typical process Analyzing project’s needs, preparing the document, sending it out, processing proposals, choosing the best one. Setting up the desired timeframe and budget limit, deciding on project’s details, preparing the document, sending it out, processing received quotes, choosing the most suitable one.
Suitable projects Projects of any complexity. Projects with well-defined requirements that need standard approaches.

 

Request for proposal in software development

The type of software product you need will define the structure and contents of your RFP. Let’s see how such requests might work for different projects.

request for proposal

Request for proposal in web design and development

When you need a development firm to work on your website, you’ll have to include the following in your RFP:

  • Existing website, if any. Explain if you need a new solution made from scratch or you already have a site that you want to be redesigned or expanded.
  • Audience of your website. Specify who will visit your site so that the design is made with those users in mind.
  • Goals. What do you want to achieve with a new or redesigned website? Write down the objectives you’re pursuing.
  • Must-have and nice-to-have functionality. Point out what features you need on your website. There might be some things that will be shaped later, during discussion with a development team that might give you advice based on their expertise—but you should know the major features a vendor will work on.

Apart from that, your web design and development RFP should have your company’s introductory information, budget and timeframe details, and clear submission requirements for potential providers (deadline, evaluation criteria, etc.).

Request for proposal in app development

This document will look a lot like the one for web development, but you’ll have to include some aspects related to particular app technologies:

  • Platforms. Are you developing for several operating systems or just for one? Do you need the app to be supported on other devices (for instance, watchOS in addition to iOS)? Outline this information.
  • Audience of your app. Will it be made for internal use or open for anyone? How many user-specific versions of an app do you need (for example, admin and customer-facing ones)? Give answers to these questions so that vendors understand the scale of the project.
  • Goals. Explain why you want the app to be developed and what do you expect to receive as a final result.
  • Must-have and nice-to-have functionality. When describing what you need your app to be able to do, you can prioritize different features.

As usual, you also should mention general information about the project, set your budget and time expectations or limitations, outline possible challenges, and provide vendors with submission criteria.

 

Request for proposal in web and app maintenance

An RFP can also be sent out if you already have a working solution but don’t have a team handling its maintenance. In this case, you’ll need to describe specific maintenance services that your project requires: backups, updates, etc. As with other types, the meaning of your RFP is to give potential developers a well-rounded picture of your needs.

Pave the way to a successful project with a clear RFP

As you can see, a request for proposal can help you find the best-fitting development partner and stay on the right track with them regarding the scope of work and compensation. With all the essential details written down and sent out to providers, you’ll make it easier for development firms to understand your needs and decide on a realistic quote.

Use our simple template to create your RFP. It consists of 6 major components to fill out:

  1. Company information: introduction about your company and general project vision.
  2. Project information: your objectives and major requirements, user roles, features, timeline for the whole development, submission deadline, etc.
  3. Business information: your competitors, monetization models, target audience, and problems you want to solve.
  4. Budget: your pricing model, budget limitations, etc.
  5. Existing materials: wireframes and designs if you have any.
  6. Additional information: tech stack and anything else you want to mention.

DOWNLOAD FREE RFP TEMPLATE

Fill out this request for proposal example and see how much easier it will be to discuss your project when developers are already aware of your ideas, business background, goals, and constraints.

If you’re not sure about all the requirements for your project, we can consult you on the technologies you might need and possible challenges so that you have a clearer picture of what to include in a request for proposals and what to look for in a development firm.

Anton Sikorsky
Account Manager at TRIARE