When looking for a romantic partner, you probably have a mental checklist of questions. Some questions will be standard and provide a basic screening.
However, once you start deeply communicating with the most compatible people, you’ll start asking them more specific questions about plans for the future, their family vision, and so on. This process helps to compare potential partners against the same parameters until you find the right one.
The same process happens when looking for a mobile app development partner. To find a company for effective, long-term collaboration, you should organize the search process meticulously, as if you were looking for a romantic partner.
What Are RFP, RFQ and RFI?
To compare companies on equal terms, it’s better to provide all of them with a document containing the same information and questions. Usually, companies prepare a Request for Information (RFI), a Request for Quotation (RFQ), or a Request for Proposal (RFP) document. Each of them has its own specifics and is used in concrete situations.
RFI is similar to a basic screening. You request information about the potential vendors — history, portfolio — and give a brief overview of your business challenge. Based on the responses to this document, you will select app development companies for the next round of negotiations. RFI is ideal when you are looking for general information and lack well-defined ideas about a solution.
RFP often follows the RFI but could also be a stand-alone document. A mobile app RFP is more specific in its requirements and the requested information about the vendors.
RFP should contain enough context so potential app development vendors can provide solutions. In the end, you may get feedback and different takes on the task. Hubspot states that RFP “gives you a sneak peek into different strategies you may not have considered since each vendor will include their own unique action plan along with their bid.”
RFQ is also known as an Invitation For Bid (IFB). The key difference between an RFQ and an RFP is that an RFP is sent out when you expect the vendors’ creativity and solutions. Sending an RFQ, on the contrary, means you already know what you want to develop, and you need to find out the project’s exact cost.
Why Do You Need an Amazing RFP?
Our company is constantly getting requests from existing businesses and market newcomers. Based on our experience, we prefer to start the negotiations with a mobile app RFP.
Why? It’s thorough enough to give us a good understanding of the business and its needs while allowing us to be creative and show our expertise.
Often, companies use an RFP as a tool to increase the competition between the vendors to get the lowest price, but this doesn’t reflect an RFP’s actual value; this value would be that you gain the ability to compare all potential vendors in terms of value, price, and expertise.
The mobile app RFP process improves the overall quality of your search and your purchase decisions. In addition, it guarantees you and potential vendors are on the same page.
Investing enough time and effort into creating an RFP increases the chances of getting more qualitative responses. As your decision will be based on these responses, the success of the entire app development project will depend on its RFP.
How Do You Write a Mobile App RFP?
An RFP can be written by a business analyst, product owner, or product manager. The most important aspect of this task is that the person writing the RFP has a deep understanding of the mobile app development project. Further, it’s a good idea to involve the department that will use the service or be responsible for the app in the RFP writing process.
For instance, if there is a technical department in your company, write an RFP with these developers. However, if no team members are well-versed in technology, you should notify the vendors about this in the “Technical requirements” section of your RFP.
Before starting to work on the RFP, ensure that you have enough information on the following:
- Understanding of the business problem
- Metrics of success
- Expected functions and features of an app
- Specific technical requirements
- Estimated budget
- Desired launch date
- Vendors evaluation criteria
Below, you will find the most effective mobile app RFP structure we've created based on our experience and the interests of both vendors and businesses. To start, we recommend writing an RFP that consists of four parts where:
- The first part is about the RFP process itself,
- The second part provides information about your company and project,
- The third part details the vendor overview,
- And the final part contains the vendor’s proposal.
We understand that an RFP is a rather detailed document and is full of confidential information, so we highly recommend you sign NDAs with all the potential vendors first. This way, you’ll be sure your product idea will be kept out of the public domain.
Section 1: The RFP Process
1. Proposal Timeline
In this subsection, you should provide the vendors with the dates of the RFP’s process stages. Usually, the stages are as follows:
- RFP’s issue
- Conference call/meeting
- Vendor questions
- RFP’s submission
- Vendor shortlist selection
- Final vendor selection
Make sure you give the developers sufficient time to respond to your RFP; this will help to ensure you receive more accurate estimates.
2. Proposal Requirements
In this subsection, inform the vendors of what you expect from them. By defining the data and documents you need, you increase the relevant responses and minimize the time for explanations and requests for additional information. For example, you may want to ask for a company presentation, a portfolio with relevant projects, reviews with contacts, a proposal, and an estimation.
3. Approval Criteria
Give the vendors a clear understanding of what is most important for you (experience, timeline, cost, etc.). This information will help them to be as competitive as possible and provide you with the best possible proposal.
4. Stakeholders and Contacts
Let the vendors know who makes the decisions about the project and who is responsible for the RFP process. The vendors should be able to get in touch with someone from your company in case they have any questions.
Section 2: Company and Project Background
1. Executive Summary
An executive summary is like an elevator pitch. There is no need to write much, just include a quick overview of your business, the required solution, and its main goal.
2. Company Overview
Present your company. Share a bit about its history, mission and goals, provided products and services, and targeted markets. You may add any additional information if you think it will help the vendors gain a better understanding of who you are.
3. Project Overview
In this subsection, you should answer the following questions:
- Is the project from scratch or a modification of an existing one?
- Why did you decide to start this project? What problem are you looking to solve?
- What’s your vision for the solution?
- What is the target audience?
- What are existing and/or potential roadblocks?
- Who are the product’s competitors?
- Do you have any references for functionality and design?
- Do you have a list of preferred devices the mobile app should support?
- What services do you need — consulting, business analysis, UI/UX development, quality testing, and/or development?
4. Project Scope Requirements
Provide as many details as you can regarding the project’s scope by detailing the following:
- Do you already have use cases, wireframes, or clickable prototypes? Add links if you have any.
- What are the app’s functions?
- What features correspond to these functions? You’ll also want to prioritize features by status, including must-have, nice to have, and would like to have.
- What is the minimum set of features for the first release?
Don’t forget you can always add additional information that will helps readers understand the product better.
5. Technical Requirements
This subsection should show your vision and preferences about the technical side of the project:
- Do you prefer iOS/Android/Web-based applications?
- Do you prefer native or cross-platform applications?
- Would you consider the possibility of starting with one platform?
- Do you have an existing server? If so, provide access to the API documentation. If not, would you like the vendor to develop the backend?
- Do you have a current internal database? If so, what type (Oracle, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, etc.)?
- Do you have any preferences on how to update content in the app (via the server, through CMS or the admin panel, etc.)?
- Do you need local or remote notifications? If so, provide the supposed events for them.
- Would you like to integrate an analytics tool? If so, what kind of metrics would you want to track? Do you have any preferences for the tool?
- Are you considering integrating with third-party tools/applications (like Google Maps or payment systems)? If so, specify them.
If you have budget limitations, it is better to include the lowest and the highest possible price in the mobile app RFP. Disclosing will help the vendors tell you what scope of work they can do within your budget. Further, it will save you from considering irrelevant proposals.
If the budget is a crucial aspect of the screening process, you want to receive similar estimation documents from potential vendors. As the app development cost depends on the project scope, the number of platforms, the backend, and the admin parts, we advise our clients to conduct business analysis.
Specifically, have a business analyst systemize and refine product requirements. After that, you can prepare a cost estimate template to share with vendors.
Related: What is a Business Analyst's Role in App Development?
7. Project Timeline
Tell the vendors about your plans, including:
- What is the earliest and the latest start date?
- What date is the best for you to launch the product?
- Is the launch date associated with an event?
- Are there any commitments that influence the launch date?
Keeping this information in mind, vendors determine if they have the required resources and specialists for your project and whether they can meet your deadline.
Section 3: Vendor Information
1. Agency Overview
Now it’s time for the potential vendors to present themselves. Ask them the following questions:
- How long have you been in the business?
- What kind of services does your company offer?
- Which industries are you specialized in?
- How many employees work at your company?
- Will any work be done overseas or by contractors/freelancers?
- What is the total number of projects you have completed?
- Where are your employees located?
- What helps you to stand out from the competitors?
2. Case Studies
Projects speak louder than any information a company may share about its experience and expertise. Ask potential vendors to provide their best and most relevant projects. To understand the cases better, ask about:
- Business challenge,
- Delivered solutions,
- Project results,
- Links to Google Play and/or App Store,
- And client feedback.
Here, the mobile app development company with the most relevant experience will be able to provide the most accurate time and budget estimation; this is because this company already knows the best practices and challenges related to the industry or the potential technology. Also, it will usually have some developments and shortcuts before the project launch.
3. Process Overview
Now, it is time to get more in-depth information about the main processes of the project and ask some specific questions about the app development process, like:
- How many full-time employees make up the app development team?
- Will your company be able to contact the developers directly?
- What backend/DevOps capabilities do you have?
- What languages/frameworks do you use?
- What approaches does your company use to ensure high-quality applications?
- How does your company manage the use of open-source or other libraries that could compromise the final product?
- How does your company ensure code security?
- How are client materials and confidential information handled and safeguarded by your company?
- Who is the owner of the source code?
Also, you’ll want to ask the following questions about the design process:
- How many full-time employees make up the design team?
- What design tools are they familiar with and use regularly?
- Are the designers and developers in the same office?
- Will your company be able to communicate with the design team?
- Could you provide the design portfolio of your company?
- What does your design process look like?
- How many concepts will you provide?
- What will your company get as the result of the design process?
- Who will be the owner of the source materials?
For the QA process, ensure you ask:
- How many full-time employees make up the quality assurance (QA) team?
- Will your company be able to communicate with the QA team?
- What is a typical QA process from start to finish?
- What kind of documentation will be created for QA?
- What kind of devices do you have?
Finally, ask the following management process questions:
- What is a typical project management process from start to finish?
- What project documents will be prepared (resource and calendar plan, weekly reports, etc.)?
- Will you provide a Project Manager?
- How does your company control the project process?
- What software do you use to manage the project and communicate with the team and stakeholders?
- Who will be responsible for releasing and preparing all the necessary materials?
Section 4: Proposal
Finally, we get to the part for which this document was created. It’s time to see what the vendor can propose to you. This section should contain information about the solution, project timeline and resources, pricing model, budget, and support plan.
Ask the vendors about their project vision and ideas about the best solutions to your problems.
Project Timeline and Resources
Ask to provide a detailed project timeline, including estimated start dates, schedule of activities, deliverables, and resources to be used.
Pricing Model and Budget
Ask about the pricing model; is it a fixed price or a time and material-based price project? It could be a provisional estimation with a list of services included and a payment calendar.
Related: Fixed Price vs. Time and Materials Contract: Which One to Choose for Your Project?
Maintenance and Support Plan
Ask about the guarantee period and types of support plans that are offered.
Mobile App RFP Template
Based on the above tips, we prepared a ready-to-use mobile app RFP template. Don’t forget to customize it to your project’s needs.
The RFP process may seem somewhat complicated, but it’s worth going through. It helps you to see whether you have a clear, detailed understanding of the product inside the company, to organize comprehensive comparisons, and, in the end, to find the best app development partner for a long-term collaboration.
For mobile application development companies, reviewing and responding to an RFP takes a lot of time and effort, especially if it is not well-written. Therefore, you must develop a quality document if you want quality responses.
At Orangesoft, we provide detailed feedback on every RFP we receive. So if you're struggling to find the right company for your project, we encourage you to get in touch and let us know how we might help.