So you’ve got a mobile project on your hands, and you’re in the market for mobile app development services, which means it’s time to source vendors. A mobile app request for proposal (RFP) is widely considered the cornerstone for big-ticket purchases like development. Finding the right mobile app development company can be difficult, but an RFP makes the process a lot easier, helping to weed out weak links and connecting you with the best vendor based on your needs.
Does your company invest millions of dollars a year or more in mobile services and products that fail to meet return on investment (ROI) goals? You’re not alone. Even companies that dedicate time and effort into building procurement departments to support their sourcing efforts sometimes miss the mark on purchases, resulting in unexpected cost overruns and poor vendor alignment.
Many organizations have come to understand that investing in a mobile app RFP process that adheres to best practices carries significant advantages that not only improve ROI but also improve outcomes across multiple measures. Developing and honing in on an effective RFP process improves the overall quality of purchasing decisions by allowing buyers to engage in apples-to-apples comparisons across potential vendors.
A mobile app RFP is a document that both you and the app development vendor use to establish an understanding of your project’s requirements. This document becomes the statement of work for the contract. A comprehensive mobile app RFP will help you receive more accurate information regarding your specific project. You’ll also be able to find the best development partner to work with instead of choosing one that appears to be capable, but isn’t fitted to work within the constraints of your particular project.
This article will cover five significant considerations for writing an effective mobile app RFP that will get you the best responses and, ultimately, help you choose the best vendor for your development needs.
It is very rare for a business to find themselves only in need of development services. With RFPs, it’s common for people to focus too much on specific app features, instead of considering the bigger picture. Your RFP will require more information beyond the product’s technical requirements.
The first thing you need to address is the core business problem you’re trying to solve with the product—what is it, and what is the current process you have in place for solving this problem? Also, what are your current frustrations with the existing process? It’s essential to convey how you intend to turn your business strategy into an effective mobile strategy.
Your RFP will also have to outline your project scope requirements; in other words, the size and complexity of your project. What platforms are you looking to leverage? Does your budget cover more than one platform? What about backend development – do you have existing systems like web services or CMS? Communicate the specific services you need from a vendor. Will you need consulting and business strategy services? Design and user experience ideation and delivery? Quality assurance? Technical delivery? Be honest about what expertise you require from a vendor, but also be realistic about your budget constraints.
Is your Mobile App RFP missing essential information? Talk to one of our mobile experts about how a Design & Discovery Session can help you capture all of your RFP deliverables. Start a conversation.
A mobile app RFP should also ask about maintenance and ongoing support. It’s not uncommon for a mobile app to be considered “outdated” in 6-8 months if left unattended after launch. Without recurring maintenance, rework, updates, and additions, the gap between customer needs and product value grows too wide to achieve business objectives. With a market that’s so densely saturated, it’s comfortable for customers to switch to higher-quality alternatives. It is essential to ensure the vendor you decide to work with can provide the appropriate level of support necessary to continue capitalizing on opportunities for long-term growth.
If you’re hesitant about including a budget range in your mobile app RFP, keep in mind that it can help you qualify responses that are a poor fit very early in the process, saving you time in the long run.
Many people think that by withholding budget information, they will increase the competition among vendors, and they’ll get more value from them. Similarly, people tend to believe that revealing their budget too early will lead to a project scope that is beyond their means. But remember, every vendor will interpret your RFP differently, and therefore scope your project differently. So even if you include adequate detail about your project needs, you’re still going to end up with an apples-to-oranges comparison imposed by the perceptions of the vendors responding, which defeats the purpose of an RFP overall.
Like most businesses, mobile app development vendors must consider scale when taking on new projects. By withholding your budget information, you potentially waste your time and the vendor’s time figuring out if the relationship is a good fit. Mobile app development vendors also vary in size, which means the cost, scope, and quality of work will have a broad range, as well. Including a budget in your RFP will help you qualify your shortlist more quickly and efficiently.
Providing a budget can’t be over-emphasized enough. Even if you honestly don’t have a budget in mind, you will likely have an idea of your budget tolerance. Also, if you provide a maximum budget of $500,000, but you know some of that money will be allocated to different areas of your mobile strategy, say that in your RFP. This type of information gives vendors much more to work with than merely saying, “I don’t have a budget.” Budget information dramatically increases the likelihood that responses will be more relevant to your needs.
Mobile app vendors typically offer many services that range from consulting to app store delivery. You may require additional time to build and deliver your app if your project isn’t thoroughly and accurately scoped. It comes down to the degree of detail – if you send out an RFP that poses more questions than it answers, with general ideas rather than specifics, you can expect that your responses will include additional time for areas like product definition and project management. Some vendors may even choose not to submit responses if the RFP significantly lacks detail.
It’s essential to include enough detail in your mobile app RFP. To do this, you need to understand what you want in your app. If you partner with an experienced app development company, they will make recommendations on the functionality of the app; however, there needs to be enough information to understand the general requirements.
A detailed mobile app RFP helps eliminate ambiguity and sets the foundation for a project that is more likely to stay on time and within budget. Vendors will better understand what you are looking for, resulting in a more accurate price and timeline estimations. RFPs also minimize the risk of unexpected issues emerging during the project and results in the added advantage of saving valuable time once that project starts.
Ultimately, the quality and thoroughness of your mobile app RFP will affect the quality of the responses you receive. The more detail you provide, the more likely you are to get proposals that convey the extent of vendor capabilities, include a more accurate timeline and price estimations and help you choose the company that is the perfect fit for your project.
Download our free mobile app RFP template to start the vendor selection process below.