4 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Mobile App RFP
When you’re trying to choose the best mobile app development company to build your app, there are many things to consider and a Mobile App Request for Proposal (RFP) will help you find the right partner for your project. A well written RFP will not only help vendors understand exactly what you need, but will also help you filter through companies that don’t align with your vision, goals, and budget.
It’s in your best interest to include as much detail as possible about your project in your RFP because you’ll receive more accurate information from vendors. Writing a mobile app RFP, however, can be a daunting task and if it’s not completed properly, it can lead to problems once development has started, or it can lead you to choose the wrong development partner altogether. This article covers four common mistakes to avoid when writing your mobile app RFP so you can put together an accurate and detailed document, which will save you both time and money in the long run.
Failing to Define the Full Scope of the Project
Project scope affects timelines, development costs, even the ability for you to meet business objectives. As a result, the way you present the scope of your project to vendors will influence the responses you receive. With that said, determining the scope is a tricky process considering that requirements can change frequently. Consider answering the following questions:
What is the high-level vision for the product?
Start with the high-level vision for the product. Creating a vision statement provides a sense of direction towards the long-term goal of the mobile product. By providing the long-term goal, vendors can get a better sense of what services you require, the full extent of functionality necessary to make the project a success and the budget you’ll need to achieve your goals.
Is this a mobile-only solution, or is it a part of a larger digital project?
If your product is part of a larger digital initiative, it dramatically increases the scope of the project. In your RFP, be sure to clarify whether you need development work for the web, wearable devices, smart home accessories, car integrations, connected TVs, or any other platforms. Once you start to expand the scope of the project with multiple platforms, your budget will have to increase as well. You will also have to be certain that the vendor you choose has the expertise to build the functionality you need across platforms.
What is the full extent of services this project requires?
Most projects require more than just development work. It’s important to indicate if you need any of the following services on top of development:
- Consulting and product strategy
- User interface or user experience design
- Quality assurance and testing
- Technical delivery
What operating systems do you need to support?
Selecting the number of operating systems you need to accommodate is similar to the number of platforms you require. With iOS and Android owning 97 percent of the global mobile market share, the ideal approach to mobile app development is to build and launch for both operating systems. However, that’s not always possible—constraints like time, budget, and resources can prevent you from developing for both at once. Instead, you might want to consider launching on one operating system first and then introduce a second one at a later date.
It’s important to distinguish what operating system is your priority. The number of operating systems you require has a direct impact on the cost of your project. If you develop for multiple operating systems you’re asking for multiple codebases: keep in mind, each operating system mandates different developer backgrounds and skill sets, which carry cost implications. Each operating system has distinct advantages, so it’s important to do enough research to understand which one properly aligns with achieving your product goals.
What features are necessary to create the required functionality?
Necessary being the key word in the question above. While companies may have a long list of features to include in an mobile app product, it’s critical to limit the number of features and focus on only what’s necessary to take the app to market. Take some time to prioritize product features, and only include the essentials in your RFP.
What backend systems do you have in place?
A traditional back-end architecture includes an application server, web server and a database at the core. If it’s a growth-oriented architecture, it could also have a load balancer and a host of service integrations such as email notifications, push notifications and queuing services. The needs of the back-end depend on your business and the type of functionality you want from the app.
A dynamic application needs data synchronization across platforms, as well as data storage capabilities, the ability to send notification messages and the capacity to support different HTTP methods. The back end of the application determines the extent of these capabilities and helps you manage them.
If you need to build a backend system from scratch, again the scope and cost of your project is going to inflate. Without accurate information about the backend systems you currently have or need for development, you won’t receive accurate responses from vendors about your project. It’s important to define these requirements early on to avoid any surprises for you or your development partner.
Failing to Ask the Right Questions
Engage with vendors before you write your RFP so they can get a good understanding of your project. You want to ask the right questions to filter through vendors that don’t have the knowledge and expertise needed for your mobile app project. Typically, a good RFP template will include a series of questions for potential vendors to answer to help you make your decision. You need to find out what services the company offers, what development philosophy the company follows, what long-term support plan the company offers, who will be involved in the project, among many other important qualifiers. It’s also wise to look into the company’s case studies, previous work, and reviews to see whether previous clients are satisfied with their partnership.
Underestimating Development Costs
Including an estimated budget will help qualify responses. 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.
A budget can help you eliminate numerous vendors that are not the right fit for your project. For this reason, it’s a good idea to engage with vendors before you even start writing your RFP so that they can get an idea of your budget beforehand.
Budget ranges for building applications will vary significantly. The budget is affected mainly by two factors: the complexity and scope (size) of the project, and the quality/experience of the mobile app company. Providing a budget range can help you improve the accuracy of responses. Read, How Much Does it Cost to Build a Mobile App for more information.
Not Including Enough Detail About Your Project
It’s important to include a lot of detail in your mobile app RFP. For you to do this, you need to understand exactly 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 what is required.
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 exactly what you are looking for, resulting in a more accurate price and timeline estimation; less likelihood of unexpected issues arising during the project; and even the added advantage of saving valuable time once the project has started, which can ensure the product is shipped by the deadline.
Learn More: How to Write an Amazing Mobile App RFP
Schedule a Design Thinking Workshop Before You Write Your RFP
A design thinking workshop will help you measure the scope of your project so you can gauge your budget. Jumping right into a mobile app RFP can be a waste of time and here’s why: A mobile app RFP helps you define scope so you can get more accurate bids before you sign your contract.
At Clearbridge Mobile, we offer intensive Design and Discovery sessions, which set the foundation of your app and help you set product goals, understand the business outcomes of your product, prioritize product features, and determine what to include in your mobile app.
A Design and Discovery session helps companies:
- Determine the purpose of the mobile product and how it aligns with business goals
- Define business outcomes
- Identify market viability through competitive research
- Create user personas rooted in extensive user research
- Communicate and justify a product’s concept with user journeys, wireframes, and mockups
- Create and prioritize a scalable product roadmap
- Enter the market quickly with the most impactful and useful features
If you already have a mobile product, a Design and Discovery session also carries many benefits for reimagining, rebuilding, and expanding existing mobile apps. In some cases (and for many reasons), mobile apps don’t always perform as expected and businesses need to revisit mobile strategies to effectively reach product goals. In these cases, Design and Discovery helps businesses:
- Reorganize existing mobile product strategies to better align with business goals
- Outline a clear vision of how the product will scale
- Develop an app analytics strategy
- Validate market opportunity
- Realign product features with user needs based on research and not assumptions
- Further define a user retention strategy and opportunities for long-term growth
At Clearbridge, our Discovery Session ultimately allows our team to collaborate with you to build up a solid foundation for your mobile app. Our team works alongside you to establish expectations, define goals, and create the roadmap for your app and future product phases. Talk to a mobile expert today and learn more about our intensive design thinking sessions and how they can help with the RFP writing process.
When mobile app development projects fail, they do so often because of inadequately defined requirements. For that reason, the clearer and more comprehensive your RFP is, the greater your chances of getting higher quality responses that lead to a successful outcome. A mobile app RFP is vital for finding the right development team, but before you jump into writing it, you need to understand what’s involved.