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How to Evaluate Software Development Proposals

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Slava Hraichenko
Feb 28, 2024
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So, you’re launching a software development project and think of making a smart move — commission IT outsourcing services. Now comes the pivotal step: choosing the perfect vendor from a stack of proposals. While the task might seem easy, it’s actually quite challenging. Why is that so?

The choice of a vendor is crucial as it directly impacts the quality of the final outcome. Get it right, and you'll have what you expect on time and on budget. Get it wrong — and you risk ending up with budget overrun, wasted time, and a subpar product that needs a lot of fixes, if not a complete rehaul.

But let’s face it: all proposals look nice and clean. No one showcases their failed projects or other compromising details. So, how do you make the right decision? In this article, we’ll explain the main traps of software proposal evaluation. We’ll also give you some tips on how to choose the right team for your project.

Common pitfalls in evaluating software development proposals

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When looking over proposals from IT outsourcing companies, it's essential to carefully evaluate all the details, keeping your specific needs in mind. Simply falling for appealing promises might veer you away from your expectations and requirements. Here are the main pitfalls to steer clear of. 

Considering relevant experience only

Yes, relevant experience matters. However, in software development, many skills are transferable. So, it’s critical to look at the bigger picture, such as overall expertise, adaptability, communication style, and project management, instead of relying on one criterion. Focusing too narrowly on experience gives you a limited perspective on how a team works. As a result, you may hire someone ill-equipped to tackle your project’s specific challenges and miss out on potentially excellent IT service outsourcing vendors who could be an ideal match for you. 

Choosing the cheapest offer

While it's tempting to go for the cheapest option, remember that a low price often comes with hidden costs. In software development, a proposal with suspiciously low rates might mean the team is cutting corners on development standards, testing procedures, or quality assurance measures. It could also signal that the IT outsourcing company lacks experienced engineers to handle your project. After all, why would seasoned professionals work for less? Hiring such a company puts you at risk of receiving a low-quality product — and spending even more money to fix it or, in the worst-case scenario, starting from scratch.

Focusing too much on the tech stack

We know you might have your eyes set on a specific tech stack for your project. However, fixating solely on it when picking a vendor can be a slippery slope. The main thing to consider is whether the tech stack fits your project's goals. So, instead of limiting your search to IT companies that match your tech stack wishlist, seek out top-tier experts who can provide advice on whether it's the right path to achieve your project objectives or if better alternatives are available.

Now that you know the main traps to avoid, let's discuss what to focus on when reviewing proposals from IT outsourcing companies.

How to select the right IT service outsourcing vendor

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Making the right decision about a development team based on a vendor’s proposal can be tough and requires a holistic approach. But don’t worry. We've put together a list of key steps to help you select the perfect vendor for your project.

1. Outline your project objectives

Before diving into software development proposals, it's essential to clarify your project objectives and specifics, including scope, timeline, and budget. This way, you’ll understand what a team should offer to meet your needs, and that will be your guiding compass. If a proposal lacks some details you need, you'll know what additional info to request to make an informed decision. 

2. Review proposals 

Once you know what you’re seeking, look closely at the proposals from potential IT service outsourcing vendors. Focus on criteria vital to your project's success, assessing how well each proposal fits your needs. But instead of fixating on individual aspects like experience or tech stack, consider the overall context. Search for a team that truly covers your needs, learns fast, and shares a similar mindset to yours.

3. Assess the technical expertise 

While you shouldn’t overestimate the role of the tech stack or the vendor’s portfolio, it’s still important to look at them. We don’t recommend relying on this info only, as it won't give you a complete picture of the team's expertise. However, you’ll know what questions to ask to better understand their capabilities. Plus, if some project in a vendor’s portfolio grabs your attention, you can ask for references from past clients or contact them directly. Checking reviews on professional platforms like Clutch can also provide valuable insights.

4. Consider a vendor’s communication style 

Miscommunication can cause project failures as much as a lack of tech expertise. So, it’s worth considering the vendors’ communication style when reviewing and negotiating software development proposals. Are they quick to respond? Do they articulate their messages clearly? And most importantly, do they seem open to collaboration? Seek out a team that feels like a cultural fit and can readily understand and engage with your goals.

5. Analyze the proposed budgets

Money often plays a crucial role when selecting a vendor of IT outsourcing services. As mentioned earlier, going for the cheapest option isn't the best strategy. So, how do you evaluate proposed budgets? First, figure out the market average to see if the team's pricing falls within this range (and if not, find out why). Second and most important, assess the value offered by each vendor in relation to their proposed budget. Consider factors such as the solutions they offer, overall expertise, timeline, etc.

6. Make a decision

Finally, it's time to bring everything together. To avoid feeling overwhelmed by the information, prioritize your evaluation criteria and decide on potential trade-offs. To make this even easier, assign scores to each evaluation criterion based on its importance to achieving your project objectives. Another idea is to involve some or all stakeholders in this process or give the shortlisted vendors a small test task to see their capabilities firsthand.


When evaluating software development proposals to find the right vendor of IT outsourcing services, don't underestimate the importance of the task at hand. Choosing the wrong team could spell disaster for your project. So, take a moment to review offers carefully, keeping your unique needs in mind. Pay close attention to the vendors’ tech expertise, communication style, and the balance between cost and value. And remember: don't get too fixated on just one criterion but, rather, assess how well a team can tackle your project's challenges as a whole.

Searching for an expert IT outsourcing team to make your product vision a reality? Reach out to us, and let's chat about how we can meet your needs.

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