Outsourcing: a difficult task

It continues to be a difficult task for many organizations: the outsourcing and contracting of software development and maintenance projects. The main problem is to determine which questions should be asked in the ‘Request for Proposal (RFP)’. Organizations wish to find the right questions that enable them to compare the bidding suppliers in an objective way. However, in most cases the industry sees RFP’s that offer a comparison of bidding suppliers that is not based on objective facts.  As a result, it often happens that the wrong supplier is selected. This can be the start of a project failure.


Guidelines for RFP’s

To facilitate the industry in order to make the next move towards professionalism in outsourcing contracts, Nesma offers a guideline (Mini Guide for RFP Questions). This guide helps client organizations to ask the right questions during the bid- and contracting phase. At the same time, this guide is also helpful for supplier organizations. It gives a direction on what data should be collected and analysed of completed projects and which metrics should be calculated, stored and benchmarked.

The guideline focuses on RFP management for a single software development project, but it can be applied for framework agreements as well. The organization that sends out the RFP has to provide all the necessary information to the potential suppliers for them to be able to draw up a sound proposal. It is very important that the information provided is up-to-date and detailed. The following information should at least be included:

  • The functional requirements that have to be delivered by the system
  • The non-functional requirements that have to be satisfied
  • Decision criteria that the client organization will apply to select the most appropriate proposal


Criteria for selecting an outsourcing party

When preparing a RFP, the client organization has to think of the criteria on which the the most appropriate outsourcing party will be selected. Criteria that are often considered are:

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Productivity
  • Duration
  • Supplier creditability
  • Supplier references
  • Solution details

Speaking the same language

To avoid failing projects in the future, it is important that both client and supplier ‘speak the same language’. To achieve this, it’s recommended that clients ask for price, quality, productivity and duration information based on function points from the supplier. For the function points NESMA and/or COSMIC function points can be applied. This makes proposals comparable and therewith ‘assessable’. Each proposal should answer the outsourcing question in such a way that it is possible to compare the proposals and assess the reality value of the proposals with the use of industry tools and industry data.

    Remember: outsourcing can be a success if clients submit RFP’s with the right questions and suppliers submit proposals with objective answers. Nesma is ready to support on this.