After you've conducted phone screens with several software development firms you'll be ready to ask for proposals. This article tells you what to expect in a proposal.
This article is part 4 in a 5-part series explaining best practices for undertaking the process of hiring a development team for your product development. In the last post we discussed questions to ask prospective vendors. In this post, we'll cover what information their proposals should include.
What to Expect in a Vendor's Proposal
First things first: before you even receive a proposal you should have a good idea of the vendor's process and what it would mean to work together.
The proposal should very clearly describe how you will engage the vendor and how work will proceed. There should be no surprises in the proposal because you typically will have had several discussions with the vendor before asking for—and receiving—a proposal.
What to expect:
- Financials: everybody's favorite topic. What's it going to cost? Both an estimated cost for a specific amount of work along with important billing information (invoicing frequency, payment terms, etc.). At SmartLogic we provide a recommended budget as opposed to a "fixed cost."
- Scope of Work: what exactly does the company think you're hiring them to do? It better align with your expectations of the project.
- Timeline: both start date and projected completion date (if applicable).
- Work plan: what's the next step? The proposal should be clear on what's next once the firm is engaged and the development team is ramped up. I always ask my team, "If we get this project, what would we do on Monday?" The proposal should make it VERY clear how work will get started, and how the project will proceed from there.
- Project risks: each project will face its own unique risks. You want a vendor that is pragmatic and cognizant of the risks your specific project will face. Because the vendor is an expert in application development, the firm should have foresight into risks your project may encounter along with tactics for mitigating said risks.
If after reviewing the proposal you find you have lots of questions (that is, that the proposal left many things unanswered), then it's not a good proposal and/or the company didn't do a good enough job gathering information from you during the initial interview process. My objective when submitting a proposal: leave the prospective client with as few questions as possible.
Notes on Budget and Timeline
First: If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Katy Perry does not want to date you.
Second: Rarely, if ever, can you judge two development firms based solely off of budget and timeline. No two development shops are born equal; a lower budget or faster timeline often indicates lower quality as well. Further, in general, be wary of firms that send lowball offers. Nobody wins in that scenario. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish.
Once you receive a proposal you think fits your company, read our guide to signing a deal with a vendor.
If you have questions about outsourcing software development, ios app development and hiring a development team, please reach out.