RFP - how to write to choose the best IT service provider?

Graphic shows two people and a request for proposal form

A well-drafted RFP (request for proposal), or request for proposal, carries many benefits for IT projects and their owners. The announcement of an RFP can give an accurate idea of the services on the market, which will be very useful for subsequent searches. Potential suppliers also gain from the whole process, as they can check their competence by participating in the process of selecting a partner for a project. The publication of the request also plays the role of promotion among candidates. A properly created RFP will allow us to find a qualified service provider, which can lead to a longer cooperation for the benefit of both parties. What practices are worth following when creating a request for proposal?

What is an RFP?

RFP is an acronym derived from the word Request for Proposal, which freely translated means "request for proposal." It acts as a document through which the start of a project is announced and the call for suitable contractors is opened. In the IT industry, this is a very important process, as a company can outsource in the absence of internal capabilities. The request for proposals often relates to projects that are crucial to the company's success, which, due to their more complex processes, need multiple contractors. For this reason, one of the main conditions for selection is appropriate qualifications. The requesting party includes all the necessary information about the project and the organization in the request for proposal. During the advertisement, the issuing party takes care to select the best possible service providers taking into account the previously described conditions.

Make yourself known

Before creating a request for proposal, it's a good idea to think about the fund you want to allocate for the project. With your costs already determined, you can proceed to create the RFP. A good practice is to include information about your company at the beginning of the announcement. Such an introduction can describe: the history of the organization, its services or products, the company's challenges and goals, the location of its headquarters or what sets it apart from the competition. This data will be useful for candidates to get an idea of the market in which you thrive. The information will also help you assess the situation your company is in. It will be natural to inform about the project itself. Potential candidates should have the opportunity to know: the purpose of the project, the reason for sending a request for proposal, and what you are aiming for by publishing an RFP. Also include in your explanation information about complications that may arise in providing services for you. Informed suppliers will help you overcome problems more quickly. Also think through where the RFP will be advertised. Its distribution may be to the public for all interested parties or only to specific suppliers. 

Determine your requirements

Post in the RFP information about the form of submission of proposals and create a template to be followed by interested parties. Incoming bids, thanks to a uniform structure, will be able to compare with each other. Knowing the nature of your business and the reason for a particular project will allow the other party to send back a reasonable response. Adjust the detail of your RFP and let contractors know how the scope of services needed to complete the project presents itself. Creating a checklist to set expectations will be a good move. Gather requirements within the organization by individual stakeholders. Proposals that are unable to gather all of the listed characteristics will not meet your requirements. This will allow you to eliminate suppliers and find new collaborations faster. Making a list of the most important elements for the project also means a higher rate of qualified candidates. Describe obstacles that may come in the way of delivering the service, such as limited resources or the need to use a non-standard solution. Not having specific instructions will test how service providers think. Focusing on the work process itself, rather than detailed guidelines for its execution, will make service providers more willing to use their own knowledge and insights to help you. Don't block their creativity and creative freedom.

Keep an eye on your schedule

The request for proposal must have a timetable according to which recruitment and further proceedings will take place. Above all, it must coincide with the established completion date of your project. Include in the RFP an end date for the duration of the announcement - bids will be coming in until then. Also determine when the final selection will take place and describe the time and place for submitting proposals. A clear schedule for the request for proposals will allow service providers to adjust and refine their proposal for cooperation accordingly. Don't forget to match the schedule with a window for questions about the publication, as these are bound to arise. They will allow you to dispel any doubts about your RFP. If the provision of services must take place at a certain time, include such information in the request for proposal.

Verify your inquiry again

Before announcing a request for proposal, an important and often overlooked step is the final verification. It will help you avoid unnecessary problems on the path of finding the right supplier. Mistakes of a smaller magnitude are capable of delaying the project in time, and you should stick to the set schedule. Check your RFP so that it best conveys what you want to convey. Using subheadings will ensure that it is not a monotonous block of text. Referring the request for proposal to a colleague for review can be a good solution and will help you ensure that your documents look professional. 


A request for proposal plays a very important role in software development. It prepares the foundation for future cooperation, which can bring many benefits to your business. Take care of the opportunity to get to know your company better. Allow future potential suppliers to get an idea of your business and the market situation. Don't forget the key design guidelines, as it is the main reason why you are creating an RFP. You are the one who will make the decision to select a future IT service provider, so set criteria to guide you. These terms must relate to the needs of the project and your organization. Another important aspect of the request for proposal is its schedule. Set convenient deadlines for each stage, such as the final date for submitting proposals and the time for final selection of bids. Don't forget about questions from those interested in cooperation and secure a certain number of days for responses. It is worthwhile to ensure the readability and correctness of the RFP, so review it again. Following the above practices will help your prospective partners better understand your requirements, allowing you to complete the project more efficiently.