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How to create a Request Proposal (RFP) For Software Development in 2023

Every year, businesses invest significant amounts of money in professional IT services to expand their software projects. Whether relying on in-house teams or external experts, the popularity of IT outsourcing has soared. According to Grand View Research, the global IT outsourcing market is projected to reach $1921.33 billion by 2030.

Choosing the right contractor is crucial for achieving success through IT outsourcing. This is where a well-crafted RFP (Request for Proposals) for software development can provide both tactical and strategic value. 

Skipping the RFP creation process can lead to missed opportunities, higher costs, inadequate vendor selection, increased project risks, and compromised outcomes. It is essential for companies to invest the necessary time and effort into creating a well-defined RFP to mitigate these risks and increase the chances of project success.

What is an RFP for software development?

Before selecting a vendor for your software development project, it is essential to prepare a request for proposal software development. This document provides a comprehensive overview of your project, including its objectives, scope of work, expected deliverables, and more.

Creating a detailed RFP offers several advantages for both your project and the company as a whole. The key benefits include:

  • Transparent development process: Clear requirements outlined in the RFP promote transparency throughout the development process.
  • Fulfillment of project requirements: A well-defined RFP ensures that all your project’s requirements are met effectively.
  • Mitigated risks: The RFP helps reduce risks associated with product development and vendor selection.
  • Finding the ideal development company: By sharing the RFP with potential candidates, you have the opportunity to identify the perfect software development company for your project.
  • Time and resource savings: A thoughtfully prepared RFP saves valuable time and resources by streamlining the vendor selection process.

Here’s how it works: You draft the software development request for proposal and distribute it to potential candidates for your software product development. Interested vendors evaluate the document and inform you whether they can undertake your project. Finally, you select the most suitable development company for your needs.

Who should write an RFP?

When writing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for software development, it is beneficial to involve members from relevant teams who can assist in determining the specific requirements of your project. The primary objective of the RFP document is to select an IT vendor, and therefore, it should be crafted by someone who is invested in the project’s success and can make the best choice.

Typically, an individual with a comprehensive understanding of the project, such as a company CEO, co-founder, product owner, or a team directly involved in the project, drafts the RFP. This person is well-informed about all the details, specifications, and limitations of the project. The software development request for proposal must be written collaboratively with a technician who comprehends how the proposed tasks can be accomplished. Simply put, clients outline what needs to be done, while technicians specify how it should be done.

What are the differences between RFP, RFQ, and RFI?

An RFI is a document that contains written information or clarifications regarding the capabilities of multiple vendors. Its purpose is to gather information for comparison and aid in making a well-informed decision about the most suitable candidate. Typically, an RFI is combined with Request for Proposals (RFPs) and Request for Quotations (RFQs) to engage potential suppliers and assess their strategies, skills, and capabilities.

Both RFP and RFI are utilized in the early stages of vendor selection, with the RFI generally being sent before the RFP. The format of an RFI may vary based on the specific details sought by the client, while an RFP goes beyond basic information and necessitates a specific description of the desired outcomes.

Request for Proposal (RFP)Request for Information (RFI)Request for Quotation (RFQ)
PurposeSolicit proposals from vendors for a specific projectGather information and assess the capabilities of potential vendorsObtain price quotes for specific products or services
FocusDetailed project requirements, goals, and scopeGeneral information and vendor qualificationsSpecific product or service pricing
ContentComprehensive project description, requirements, timelines, evaluation criteria, etc.General questions to understand vendors’ capabilities, experience, and capacitySpecific product or service specifications, quantities, delivery terms, etc.
EvaluationVendors are evaluated based on their proposals, including technical capabilities, experience, pricing, etc.Vendors are screened and shortlisted based on their responses to determine potential candidates for the RFP stageVendors are evaluated primarily based on their price quotes
TimeframeTypically longer, allowing vendors sufficient time to prepare detailed proposalsRelatively shorter compared to RFPRelatively shorter, as it mainly focuses on pricing
FlexibilityProvides flexibility for vendors to propose creative solutionsProvides a platform to gather information for initial vendor screeningLess room for flexibility as it primarily focuses on pricing
OutcomeSelection of the best vendor based on proposal evaluationIdentification of potential vendors for the RFP stageSelection of the vendor based on the most favorable price quote
ApplicabilityUsed when project details are well-defined and require comprehensive proposalsUsed to gather information, prequalify vendors, and refine project requirementsUsed when specific products or services need price quotes
ExamplesRequesting proposals for a custom software development projectGathering information about available CRM solutions and vendorsRequesting price quotes for office furniture supply

Please note that while this table provides a general overview, the specific details and requirements of RFPs, RFIs, and RFQs can vary depending on the industry and organization.

Key steps in the RFP process

RFP is a widely adopted practice globally, but it does not have a universally applicable standard that can be used by all organizations. For someone unfamiliar with the process, there are numerous pitfalls to avoid. That’s why it’s important to go through the RFP process together, ensuring that you feel confident in your capability to create this essential business document spontaneously.

Product Qualification 

During this phase, the organization identifies the need for a product or service and conducts preliminary research to gather information about potential vendors or suppliers. The organization also determines the scope of the project and defines its requirements and objectives.

Prepare RFP

In this step, the organization creates the software development RFP document that will be sent to potential vendors. The software development request for proposal typically includes a detailed description of the project, the desired outcomes, technical specifications, evaluation criteria, contractual terms, and any other relevant information. The organization may also create a timeline for the RFP process and establish a deadline for vendor submissions.

Distribute RFP

Once the software RFP document is ready, it is distributed to a list of pre-qualified vendors or suppliers who may be interested in bidding on the project. The organization may use various methods to distribute the RFP, such as posting it on their website, sending it via email, or using a dedicated RFP management platform.

Proposal submissions

Vendors submit their proposals in response to the RFP. The proposals typically include detailed information about the vendor’s qualifications, proposed solution or approach, pricing, work plan, and any other relevant details. The organization sets a deadline for proposal submissions to ensure a fair and efficient evaluation process.

Evaluation and shortlisting

The organization evaluates the submitted proposals based on predetermined criteria and selects a shortlist of vendors who meet the requirements and demonstrate the capability to deliver the desired outcomes. The evaluation may involve reviewing the proposals, conducting interviews or presentations, checking references, and assessing the vendors’ track record and financial stability.

Negotiation and selection

The organization enters into negotiations with the shortlisted vendors to refine the proposed terms, finalize pricing, and address any outstanding concerns. Based on these negotiations and further evaluation, the organization selects the preferred vendor(s) to proceed with.

Contract management and performance evaluation

Throughout the contract period, the organization manages the relationship with the vendor(s), monitors their performance against the contract terms, and addresses any issues or concerns that may arise. Regular performance evaluations may be conducted to assess the vendor’s performance and ensure the project’s objectives are being met.

What must be included in an RFP?

An RFP (Request for Proposal) typically includes several key components to provide potential vendors with the necessary information about the project and its requirements. Here are the main elements that should be included in an RFP:


Begin the RFP with a brief introduction that provides an overview of the organization and the purpose of the document. This section should set the context for the project and capture the attention of potential vendors.

Background and Scope

Provide background information on the organization and the project. Describe the objectives, goals, and desired outcomes of the project. Clearly define the scope of work and any limitations or constraints that vendors need to be aware of.

Project Requirements

Outline the specific requirements that vendors must address in their proposals. This section should include detailed technical specifications, functional requirements, and any relevant performance metrics. Be as specific as possible to ensure vendors have a clear understanding of what is expected.

Timeline and Deliverables

Provide a timeline for the project, including important milestones and deadlines. Clearly state the expected deliverables and any interim submissions or progress reports required throughout the project’s duration.

Evaluation Criteria

Clearly define the criteria that will be used to evaluate vendor proposals. This may include factors such as technical expertise, experience, cost, proposed approach or methodology, project timeline, quality assurance measures, and references. Weight the evaluation criteria to indicate their relative importance.

Proposal Format and Guidelines

Specify the required format for the proposals, including the organization of sections, page limits, font size, and any specific templates or forms that need to be used. Provide guidelines on how vendors should structure their proposals and what information should be included in each section.

Submission Instructions

Clearly state the deadline for proposal submission and provide instructions on how vendors should submit their proposals. Specify the preferred method of submission, such as email or a dedicated online platform. Include contact information for any inquiries or clarifications.

Contractual Terms and Conditions

Include a section outlining the contractual terms and conditions that will govern the project. This may cover areas such as intellectual property rights, confidentiality, payment terms, dispute resolution mechanisms, and any specific legal or regulatory requirements.

Additional Information

If there are any other relevant details that vendors should be aware of, such as industry-specific regulations or specific preferences of the organization, include them in this section.

Questions and Clarifications

Provide instructions for vendors to seek clarification or ask questions regarding the RFP. Specify a deadline for submitting inquiries and provide the contact information for the designated point of contact.

Best practices for writing a strong RFP

Here are some practical tips to help you create an effective RFP for software development:

  • Be concise and straightforward: Avoid excessive abstraction and focus on providing clear and concise information in each section of the software development RFP. The document should prioritize clarity, context, and transparency for vendors.
  • Prioritize quality over cost: While cost is important, avoid solely focusing on the lowest price. Opting for the cheapest option may result in compromised functionality, slower development, or lower overall quality. Consider the value and long-term benefits rather than just the immediate cost.
  • Streamline project goals and selection criteria: Avoid including too many project goals and prioritize your selection criteria. This approach will help generate more realistic offers from suppliers and align better with your time and budget constraints.
  • Describe pain points, not specific solutions: Instead of outlining a predetermined solution, provide detailed descriptions of the pain points or challenges you are facing. Allow vendors to propose their own solutions, which can lead to more effective and innovative approaches.
  • Use clear language: Avoid using internal jargon or company-specific terms that may not be familiar to vendors. Use clear and universally understood language to ensure better communication and understanding.
  • Differentiate between must-haves and nice-to-haves: Clearly define the essential requirements for the minimal viable product (MVP) separately from additional features that are desirable but not crucial. This differentiation will help vendors provide accurate pricing and reduce potential surprises.
  • Leverage electronic sources and signature tools: Consider utilizing electronic platforms for distributing software RFP materials, maintaining an audit trail, and storing responses. Electronic signature tools can streamline the signing process, reduce delays, and provide version control for documents.

By following these tips, you can improve the effectiveness of your software development RFP, attract qualified vendors, and facilitate a more successful project outcome.

Innovations for the RFP in 2022–2023

The RFP, a document issued by an organization to solicit bids from potential vendors or suppliers, underwent notable changes to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency. Some of the innovations introduced during this time frame could include:

  • Software RFP processes increasingly shifted towards digital platforms, leveraging automation and online submission systems. 
  • Integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics into the RFP process enabled better evaluation and selection of proposals. 
  • Organizations focused on promoting collaboration and gathering vendor feedback throughout the RFP process. 
  • RFPs increasingly shifted from prescriptive requirements to outcome-based specifications. 
  • RFPs placed greater emphasis on sustainability and social impact considerations. 

These innovations aimed to modernize the RFP process, enhance competition, and encourage innovative solutions. Organizations sought to drive efficiency, effectiveness, and positive change in their procurement processes by leveraging technology, promoting collaboration, and focusing on outcomes and social impact.


The request for proposal software development plays a crucial role in optimizing project workflow and selecting the most suitable IT company for the development tasks.

We trust that the provided tips on writing an RFP for software development will assist you in finding the ideal vendor. Whether you are currently searching for a vendor or require assistance in compiling this document, EVNE Developers is here to support you. Benefit from our extensive software development expertise by contacting our team today.

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