Category: Blog, Business, Cost, Outsourcing, Fundamentals

Software Development Offers: How to Compare Them and What Matters Most

Looking for a development company to create your next digital product? Take your time, dive into the nuances, and find that sweet spot with a tech partner that gets you, your project, and your vibe. Let me give you a hint on how to do it.

how to analyze and compare software proporsals

As a Business Developer, I’m involved in preparing offers for our potential clients. I’ve got a solid grasp on the process and understand the hesitations and questions companies often have. That’s why I decided to write an article that clarifies how you can analyze offers from potential outsourcing partners. I hope it makes your decision-making process not only more informed but also as stress-free and straightforward as possible!

Let’s begin with the basics.

What is a software development offer?

An app development offer is essentially the pitch or proposal you receive from tech companies keen on bringing your digital product concept to life. 

It outlines their initial plan for creating your app, focusing on their approach, methodologies, and the tools they want to employ. The offer also includes an estimated budget for the project. Consider it their pledge to you, captured in a document that should comprehensively cover every critical phase of transforming your idea into a fully functional product.

Typical elements of an app development offer

The elements included in an app development offer can vary significantly from one proposal to another. Here’s a flexible guide to what you might typically find inside:

  • Scope of work: Defines the project, detailing the app’s intended features and functionalities.
  • Project timeline: Provides an estimated schedule for the development, including phases and key milestones.
  • Budget estimation: Expect to see an estimation of the budget required to bring the outlined product version to life. Given the agile framework’s preference for the Time & Material billing model, costs are calculated on a man-day basis. This approach provides the flexibility to adapt to project changes without being strictly tied to hourly rates.
  • Development approach and methodologies: Describes the strategies, methodologies, and project management tools the team plans to use.
  • Technology stack: Lists the technologies, programming languages, and frameworks chosen for building the product.
  • Team composition: Details the expertise and roles of team members assigned to your project.
  • Post-launch support: Outlines the support and maintenance services available after the app’s launch.
  • Terms and conditions: Covers legalities like payment terms, confidentiality agreements, and ownership rights.

Keep in mind that the actual contents of an offer can differ based on the developer’s practices, your project’s specific needs, and the pricing model agreed upon.

Red flags to watch out for

  • Unclear scope: Offers that don’t specify what’s included and what’s not.
  • Unrealistic timelines: Overly ambitious deadlines may indicate rushed work.
  • Cost concerns: Suspiciously low prices could signal hidden fees or compromises on quality.

6 steps to choose your app development partner and pick the best offer

1. Setting the scene

So, you’ve been chatting up five different software development crews about your big project. Exhausting, right? Now, you’re eagerly waiting for those proposals. They might hit your inbox as a fancy PDF, an Excel sheet, or in the best case, as a live presentation, so you will be able to ask some more questions throughout. 

Hold on tight, because when you finally get them, the difference in pricing might be like comparing apples to oranges – we’re talking up to a whopping 200%! For context, when casually looking for other services or products, the price difference is rarely if ever like that. What happened?

2. The sales process

Let’s talk about the dance of sales. Usually, there are two rounds.

First, you meet the Business Development Managers. It’s like a Tinder date but for your project. At Droids on Roids, it’s all about syncing up goals because, hey, our offers are all about making your dreams come true within a set budget and timeframe. As we gear up for the proposal, we want to be on the same page as you, making sure the features we’re crafting align with your ambitions. Sometimes it is way simpler, as you are just presenting your vision for the product, and you explain how it’s supposed to work.

Ideally, you, as the project’s brainchild, have some materials ready. This is essential because your Business Development Manager isn’t just recounting what you shared in the first meeting – they’re sending it off to the tech wizards. These folks need to get to know you beyond the small talk.

So, before you engage in talks with companies, you should spend some time putting your project ideas on paper. We recommend preparing at least one of the following: a project overview, an app flowchart, or simple designs. Read more about each below.

Project overview

Simply put everything in the Word file… literally write down what the project is about, and what is important. Answer the crucial questions:
1. What problem do you want to solve?
2. Who will the end user be?
3. How do you want to withstand the competition?

App flowchart

Show how the frames of the application flow into each other so you can show exactly how users move through the application. 

Some simple designs

You can base these on something similar to your app, and you can prepare either simple sketches or more detailed mockups. It will all help the team gain a sense of how the application should look and feel. 

How to choose a software development company and what to prepare?

Round two in the sales process is where the real action happens. At this meeting, the technical team will dive deeper into the project, and you should fuel their curiosity. Usually, you will meet Business Analysts, Developers, UX Researchers and sometimes Designers, Project Managers or Scrum Masters. The more they learn about your project, the better equipped they are to adjust the offer. With in-depth knowledge, they can easily identify elements that may not be necessary at certain stages or suggest alternative development approaches.

Use their knowledge to make some changes in the project, and don’t be afraid to gather feedback or have a different mind on something.

3. Break it down – epically

Now, about those offers. Most times, they’re like a menu simply listing features and not really diving into the long-term vision. That’s where epics come in. Think of them as the main chapters in your project storybook, broken down into smaller, digestible stories. Why? Because it gives you a sneak peek into how the different companies envision your project. Are they on the same page, or are they in entirely different novels?

What is an epic then? An epic is a large body of work that can be broken down into a number of smaller stories. So what is a story, you may ask?

A Agile/Scrum user story, sometimes just called a user story, is a tool that’s used in agile software development and product management to represent the smallest unit of work in the framework. It provides an informal, natural language description of a feature of the software or product from the end-user perspective. 

For example, we can consider registration & login features as an epic, and if we put it into user stories, we get:
1. As a user, I want to fill out the login
2. As a user, I want to fill in the password field
3. As a user, I want to log in
4. As a user, I want to press ‘forgot password?’
5. As a user, I want to get back to the main screen.

4. Spot the differences

As the offers roll in, it’s time to play detective.

Break down those offers into epics or flowcharts, and if companies prepared just the bigger overview of certain features, ask them for a detailed approach. How else are you supposed to compare the time estimates and approaches? Without this breakdown, how are you able to see what it is that you will get? This will enable you to make the best comparison. 

However, don’t just focus on the nerdy tech stuff. Look at the bigger picture. How do these companies vibe with you? Do they ask the right questions? Are they as invested in your project as you are? It’s more than just a transaction. It’s a partnership.

Choosing a software development partner - how to do this?

5. Risky business

Let’s talk risks. Every project has them, like hidden traps in a video game. When you’re discussing offers, dig into the risks

What do these companies see as potential hurdles? Some might be overestimating certain features, so ask why. 

Did they have any previous experience with a similar project or is it the unknown that they are afraid of? It’s about being real and transparent. There should be no smoke and mirrors.

Here are some quick examples of risks that you might be presented to you:

  1. Ready design in advance:

Implementing an existing design can extend development time if good design practices are not followed.

Let’s start by focusing on the conclusions from the design audit.

  1. Working with existing, complex code:

The complexity of the app, its various features, and existing code can lead to unexpected conflicts or malfunctions when introducing new features, potentially causing defects in previously working functionalities.

6. Portfolio deep dive

Before you commit to a company, stalk their portfolio a bit. See if they’ve tackled projects like yours. Check out their case studies. Get a feel for how they work, and imagine what your daily interactions might look like.

Droids On Roids: How do we prepare offers for our clients?

In our process, we focus on achieving goals in a certain timeframe and budget, so our sales process is way different then most of the processes you may experience.

I personally love the first and most important question: what is the problem you want to solve? The further questions that we ask are there to wrap up the product goal, the business goal and the long-term vision for the project. 

We also work on the timeframes set by clients, and the budget they want to spend, in order to optimize the goal we want to achieve and adjust it to all the indicators we gathered.

If you’re interested in discussing your idea with us, please get in touch for a free consultation

The wrap-up – final vibes

In a nutshell, this guide spills the tea on comparing software development offers without the corporate jargon. It’s like picking the right flavor at an ice cream shop – you want the one that not only tastes good now but promises a delightful experience till the very last bite. So, take your time, dive into the nuances, and find that sweet spot with a software development partner that gets you, your project, and your vibe.

Remember that transparency is the key at this stage and curiosity is a great way to see if someone will be a good partner. Don’t exclude the business part of the app, as a software development company that focuses on longer partnerships wants the project to be successful as much as you do.

Cheers to making the chill and informed decision! 🙂

About the author

Peter Urbas

Peter Urbas

Business Developer

A Business Developer with over 3 years of experience in software development sales, helping startups around the world. An endurance and water sports lover.