You have a new project in the pipeline - but you need someone to deliver it. How do you decide which company to go with from thoses who have submitted bids - and what makes a good project proposal?
First Thing First - Who Is Bidding?
Whether you already have a raft of proposals sitting in your inbox or you’re at an earlier stage of creating a brief, it’s worth taking a short pause to be sure the right people are bidding. This is hard to know for sure, but having a pre-defined process to help you choose potential tech partners can help.
If you need some tips on choosing companies that can best fulfil your brief, check out our free 14-step Guide To Finding The Best Tech Partner. It can be worth going through the steps in the guide, then possibly asking another company or two to bid if you feel like your first group might not be the right fit.
How to Review & Compare Project Proposals
Now down to the nitty gritty - how to assess a project proposal.
You have your proposals - but what can you do to narrow the list and find the ideal tech partner to help you with your project?
We’ve broken down the key areas to focus on when comparing proposals.
Has the company built a project similar to yours - and with your preferred tech stack? Or is their experience related, but they want to use your project to help build up their portfolio?
A can-do attitude is an excellent feature, but it needs to be backed up by proven experience, and preferably in your industry. If they can’t show this, then they need to show how they will manage moving into this new project area without risking your investment.
You’ll usually get better results from someone who has been there and done that rather than someone with a pie-in-the-sky mentality about the project. If their expertise in your project area isn’t crystal clear in their proposal, then ask for clarification.
And we’d always recommend speaking with previous clients.
If you don’t know them, you could try connecting on LinkedIn. As long as they aren’t direct rivals to your company, they will probably be happy to talk about the company off-the-record. Ask them how the company worked, what they did well and where they saw room for improvement. Nobody is perfect, so don’t let a few minor issues rule someone out, but they’re worth keeping in mind to find out how the company plans to avoid them in future.
How are they planning to implement this project - and does their timeline and strategy seem believable and achievable? It’s easy at the bidding stage to promise the earth, get someone to sign a contract, then claim reasons for all sorts of delays later.
Check that their strategy and timeline are realistic. If you’re not sure, ask for more clarification. How many team members will be working on it? How experienced are they? What happens if something doesn’t go according to plan? Why haven’t they factored in steps you’d expect to see?
Everyone loves a bargain, so your natural instinct can be to look for the lowest price. After all, if everyone is bidding on the same project, surely you can just choose the cheapest and go with them.
But is cheapest always best?
Unfortunately, businesses that go low on bids are often hiding a lot in the details. They will pitch a bargain-basement price to get you to sign them up, then as the project progresses, you’ll find they charge you extra for all sorts of things that weren’t defined in the contract and that you just assumed were included.
Your project can quickly cost twice as much as you thought it would - which can be considerably pricier than some of their more realistic rival bidders might have charged.
So it’s worth looking at the details. If someone is much less expensive than everyone else, find out why, and make sure they are offering everything their higher-priced rivals are offering - or that the services they’ve cut out are genuinely ones you don’t need.
Who will be working on the project - and how much time do they have for it? Some companies might claim they will have teams working on your project full-time from day one, but is that true?
In most cases, that can only happen for two reasons - the first is if it’s a large project that requires a full-time team, and there’s the time to hire them all for a contracted period. The second is if they have too many staff and not enough work to keep them busy, which can be a somewhat worrying sign that they keep losing customers
Try to get to the truth here. You need a company to dedicate real resources and talent to your project while also being honest about how you’ll fit into their work schedule. A company is probably busy with multiple clients if they’re doing something right, and they will know how to incorporate your project into their schedule so that you get the resources and results you need in a realistic timeframe.
A company that puts extra effort into the proposal might also put extra effort into your project. That’s not always the case, but it can be a clue as to the level of service they’ll provide.
In the proposal, look for extras they provided that you didn’t ask for - but that are genuinely useful and not just fluff. Examples might include:
Design exploration mock ups
Ideas for further development
📌 Trial period
For major projects, you want a company that offers a trial period that leads to some sort of output. This can help you get to know the team and how the company works before you hand over a large sum of money for the full project.
Bear in mind it works both ways, of course, so the company will also be assessing you during this time. They want to be sure that your brief was accurate and that they weren’t asked to bid on one thing, only to have you suddenly asking for lots more without any extra compensation, for example.
If a company wants you to part with a large sum of cash without offering a trial, think twice. Sometimes, you might feel this is a risky way to spend your cash, but if your companies don’t gel, then it’s better to have found out during the trial period than after signing up to hand over hundreds of thousands to them.
📌 Word To The Wise: Intellectual Property
The assignment of Intellectual Property (IP) sometimes appears in the proposal, but if not, it’s worth clarifying with the company who is bidding. If not, it can cause problems further down the line.
Recently, we saw an example where a company had an app built that was very successful, so they wanted to develop it further. But because they could not afford to pay for the whole app, they agreed with the developers to split the ownership shares 50/50. What they didn’t realise was that no IP had been granted in the contract. When they wanted to make changes to the app, the developer refused and said they held the IP, which left the app owners with no choice but to build another product.
App Project Proposals
If you’re looking for someone to help you develop an app, you’ve come to the right place. At ADAMAPP, we’ve developed hundreds of apps for some of the world’s biggest brands. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss your company’s app project.