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Find the Best Team: RFP Questions for Software Firms

If you are evaluating launching an MVP, the company you hire determines the difference between success and failure. The right team will set you up for success and can eliminate hundreds of thousands of dollars of mistakes.

We’ve got a blog article here  that covers the roles within the team and the importance of those roles.

As you compare software consulting firms, here are the questions you should be asking the company you are targeting for your project. You can also download our RFP sheet here.

Why this question is important:

Performing market research and requirements gathering during this phase is crucial. Misses in requirements will cause a simple project to take 2,3 or 4 times longer than planned. The software requirements and requirements process is the foundation of the project and ultimately defines if the project hit the mark.

Founders Workshop Response:

With our D1 process, we help discover the high-level requirements that you MVP should contain to be competitive. With our D2 process we create detailed requirements per feature to help get an accurate development estimate range. With our D3 process, we create requirements traceability matrixes with all the detail you need to maintain your software long-term.

Why this question is important:

For most companies, a developer is a hammer and every requirement is a nail. They choose a programming framework that they know and are familiar with, not necessarily what’s best for the client. The right solution may be a mix of open-source software solutions, low-code custom development mixed with traditional development.

Founders Workshop Response:

We evaluate the requirements of the solution to figure out what options are available. We evaluate low-code solutions, hybrid mobile solutions and traditional development solutions to see what makes sense based on the maturity of the company and the budget.

Why this question is important:

When launching an MVP, it can take time to find product-market fit. There are many companies that specialize in no-code solutions. These options are often very constrained in capabilities. To learn more about the difference between no-code and low-code solutions click here. There are very few companies that offer low-code solutions. Most companies offer traditional development solutions.

At the MVP phase of the project, the budget is crucial. Would you rather spend $25-50k on a low-code solution and 25k on marketing to help establish product-market fit? Or would you rather spend $50-100k for a product then do all the heavy lifting on marketing? The goal of an MVP is just that – what’s are the minimum capabilities you need to have a viable software product? That should also include the minimum spend. 

Founders Workshop Response:

We support low-code solutions and work with partners to support no-code solutions. For an MVP project, we recommend low-code solutions and low-code APIs. Low-solutions have more flexibility and a longer lifespans than no-code solutions. We have partnerships with no-code companies to create hybrid low-code and no-code solutions if that’s what’s needed to support the project. TLDR; Yes.

Why is this question important:

Accurate software documentation on how the system is supposed to work is a crucial part of the software development process. It helps the developers understand what requirements need to be met. It helps QA test that the software meets the requirements. It helps when onboarding new developers so they know how the system works. A good document library can save you hundred of thousands of dollars over the lifespan of the project.

Founders Workshop Response:

We believe that software documentation is living and breathing and should evolve with the life of the project. Too many systems are designed with no documentation and so much money is wasted to figure out what the software is supposed to do. We create requirements traceability matrixes, architecture documentation (how the system is designed), test cases, and UX feature maps in Figma. These are documented in a space in Confluence. When you are ready to onboard your own team, we’ll export your space which you can then import into your own systems.

Why this question is important:

For most dev shops, they complete the project and move on to the next project. They offer minimal support after the project is complete and the support is reactive (something is broken and you have to alert them to fix it) vs. proactive (they are proactively monitoring the server and notifying you of changes.) If they hand you the keys to your server, grant access to your Github repository, and you have no technical expertise to support the server, you are in for many bad surprises and a lot of emergencies.

Founders Workshop Response:

We offer support plans to ensure your software is up and running and let you know if we see errors in your system. We have flexible contracts for continuing development based on the needs of your project.

Why this question is important:

Most companies provide a developer to support the project and that’s all. Bigger projects may add a project manager and occasionally QA. A good project team has a CTO, UX designer, a Product Manager, a development lead, a QA Engineer, and one or more additional developers.

With a holistic team, your software will work the way that it’s expected and you can save weeks or months of rework by thinking through the details before the dev team starts the project.

Founders Workshop Response:

We have a CTO assigned to the project who oversees the architecture and work from the team. A product manager is assigned to capture the requirements and work with the team on a day-to-day basis. We have a development lead who designs the database and creates the architecture documentation. We staff the development team based on the timelines for the project (usually 2-3 developers.) We have a QA engineer who tests the software to ensure it works as designed.

Why this question is important:

Many companies will provide a fix-bid estimate, then nickle-and-dime you on change requests. With an MVP it’s important to be flexible but it’s also important to get a clear impact of changes to the timelines of the project.

Founders Workshop Response:

Change happens. We get it. We look at the impact, the dependencies (if you change this one feature – what other screens or jobs may be impacted.) We work with you to determine the best timeframe to fix it based on where the team is at. Does it make sense to do it now or does it make sense to release it after the initial MVP? We advise you on the best path forward based on your budget, target market, and project stage.

 

Why is this question important:

If you’ve hired a developer as your CTO, you may save money on launching your project in the short term but will likely pay for it in the long run. A developer has experience developing software, but isn’t an expert at creating documentation and may not have experience hiring a team. Having the support of a full-team is the best way to set your project up for success.

Founders Workshop Response:

We provide CTO services to help you manage your project, verify the architecture, and share our ITOS system on how to run a successful software team. If your current team is struggling, we can help.

Why is this question important?

Buggy code is a symptom of other problems within the team and usually a symptom of multiple problems on the team. If you are struggling with managing your existing dev team, you don’t have the right resources and processes in place.

Founders Workshop Response:

We offer a CTO Assessment service that looks at your team, processes, and product to determine how to best improve your team’s performance.

Why is this question important?

Some companies will get your requirements, then open an Upwork job to get a company to fixed-bid the work in India or the Phillippines. They pretend to do the work, but end up outsourcing the project. It’s important to know the longevity of the team that will be assigned and the types of projects they’ve worked on prior to yours.

Founders Workshop Response:

Our HR team works very hard to find the best team members and we focus mostly on hiring nearshore so we can alleviate a lot of the issues that happen with offshore development. It often takes months to get through our screening process. We match projects to team members based on their expertise and project history. Our team members enjoy that they get to work on new innovative projects on a regular basis and are continuously learning new skills. We work with our teams on many projects and we’ve been through many product launches before.

Why is this question important?

Many companies notoriously underestimate their projects and then don’t manage expectations about the project cost. A longer project timeframe means more cost for development. Costs can vary if the project scope changes, if assumptions aren’t accurate about third-party plugins and libraries, or if there are problems with a resource on the team. It’s critical that your software team has a process for all of these issues so you know up-front and it’s not a surprise at the end.

Founders Workshop Response:

No company can guarantee their timelines. There are many variables that come into building software and many surprises that occur along the way. We do our best to provide assumptions and risks so you know what is happening within the project and with our product management process, can warn you if scope changes may derail your budget or timelines.

TLDR

When hiring an expensive dev team, it’s important to make sure they can support you not only during your project build, but also after. For best results, find a company that supports the entire process, from design to support. Use our RFP worksheet to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the companies you are working with.

Get help for your software development project

Still not sure which solution is best for your project? Connect with our VP of Operations and Project Champion Mike Vanderslice to chat about scoping and validating your idea before building your software app. He’s been a founder multiple times and can help you think through this important decision. Connect with him on LinkedIn or book a time to meet via Calendly.

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