Request for proposal or RFP is an application for the service provision or project creation, which is created by the customer for the competition. It reflects the goals that the customer wants to achieve, KPIs, criteria for bidders and other important indicators.

According to Investopedia, “a request for proposal (RFP) is a business document that announces and provides details about a project, as well as solicits bids from contractors who will help complete the project.

RFPs are a great way to represent the project needs and provide transparency about project goals and supplier options. In many ways, for experienced software service providers such as Cuspy Software, the RFP becomes the terms of reference for the contract and sets the tone for the entire project development process.

Specifically for software development projects, RFPs help companies select the best IT companies to partner with when developing a software solution.

6 steps to consider when developing an RFP

Writing an RFP is a process that can be divided into 6 stages. 

Stage 1. Define goals and objectives

You should describe the main marketing objectives and business goals you want to achieve. Identify the problems that need to be solved to achieve the goals and “pain points” (difficulties that may arise on the way to project implementation). 

Stage 2. Determine requirements and conditions

You should evaluate the company’s internal and external resources, how the project will be managed, and what metrics will be required to determine its effectiveness. The agency should formulate some questions for you: about the needs of the business and users, resources, content format and stakeholders. 

Stage 3. Set a deadline

The agency is engaged in creating presentations and focuses on how to best show its product. You set a deadline and select the finalists who prepare the best presentations.

Step 4. Evaluate options for cooperation

You talk about your marketing goals and identify the most priority ones, introduce the agency to the company structure and discuss with it the best form of cooperation. The agency gets an idea of the organization of the company, signs the necessary reporting documents and develops a work plan. The point of this stage is to make sure that the client and the agency speak the same language, and understand each other’s goals.

Step 5. Create a budget

You communicate the budget. The agency sets the budget range, after which the parties agree on the amount that suits them. After that, the agency forms a financial plan, which specifies the stages of work and the funds required at each stage.

Step 6. Evaluate various options to implement

You should define the key indicators to measure the effectiveness and assemble a professional team. The agency should ensure that the evaluation criteria are adequate (for example, the necessary metrics are available to study performance).

Tips in a nutshell

So, summing up all of the above, in RFP:

  • Formulate measurable business goals, why this development is being done.
  • Formulate measurable tasks that need to be done to achieve the goal.
  • Make a separate request for services (support, hosting, SEO).
  • Make a separate request for work (creation of a product, document, training).
  • Consider how you will compare offers.


  • Highlight requirements for the development and project management process.
  • Separate functional and non-functional requirements.
  • Highlight restrictions separately.

Contractor selection

  • If possible, split into two requests for proposals, (1) design and (2) implementation.
  • Assume that the contractors for these different phases may be different (although this is not very good – but it is better to assume this).
  • Organize the technical presentation of proposals.

Document format

If possible, have functional requirements in Excel, one per line.

Functional requirements

Engage professional analysts to develop functional requirements, and if this is impossible, then try to adhere to the rules of atomicity, structure, consistency, completeness, brevity. Omit platitudes, highlight features.

Decide for yourself which way of working with a contractor is more convenient for you: Waterfall, Agile and etc.


In this article, we hope to shed some light on the request for proposal in software development to help you use it to your advantage and the benefit of your software project. Stay tuned for our new posts!