The RFP had been floating around the interwebs for approximately two weeks when the follow up questions began to roll in. Since this process is new to me, I was really not sure what to expect. Below are a series of questions that were asked to me through email:
Where is the site hosted?
Can we obtain access to the source code, some or all, to review so we know the quality of code we’ll be working with?
What database does it use?
Does any of the existing major functionality of the site depend on any 3rd party gems (aside from the core Rails ones)?
Are they using a CDN (such as Amazon S3) for any storage?
The expectation that the two new functions of the site (the badges support and the planning modules support) would be integrated directly into the existing site code, or that they would be bundled gems?
Are there any restrictions on which 3rd party gems can be used the site?
Is the existing code currently stored in a code repository, such as git or svn?
How well tested is the existing code on a unit-testing level and on an integration-testing level?
What testing framework (RSpec, TestUnit, Cucumber, etc.) is used?
Could you send a copy of the existing code base, schema, or object model? (this would answer a lot of questions…)
Could you send screen shots, or a login to the current administrative interface? If you have a staging/demo environment, that would work as well.
Could you provide more detail on how you see the modules behaving? Are there a lot of fields to fill out? Is it one long page? Are there new files/videos/etc for each module?
Will modules be visible to non-authors? Only after they are published? What all will be visible to non-authors?
Are the modules linear or can users jump around and complete modules in any order?
Could you provide examples of how a user completes a module? Can this be done by only the project members, or does a community manager/admin play a role?
Do you have community managers today? What access do they have?
Could you provide examples of some of the badges you expect to use?
How many badges do you anticipate having? Would you like us to provide the design assets for these?
Could I ask what your target budget for this project?
Some of those questions I can answer but a lot of them seem to be in a different language. My organization is small but mighty, we are a programs organization focused on youth development. We do big things with a small budget and that budget does not include a lot of IT support unfortunately. Through this process I realized those were questions I should know or at least someone at my office should know but we don’t. What made a difficult situation worse was that the person who did know those answers (our current developer) was also bidding on the project so it was a conflict of interest.
These questions only represented what was emailed with me. Which is also another lesson learned. I thought in the RFP I was clear on the process but now reading back, I wasn’t. In my ideal world everyone would submit their questions through an email so I could collect them all and answer them all at once through a bidders conference call. Instead I had eight different vendors sending me requests for individual meetings all asking me similar but different questions. In the future, I will be clearer with my directions and stricter on the process because it in end it was more time consuming than necessary.
Another reflection on all of the questions asked was that every vendor asked different questions. Some had a lot of more tech-based questions, some focused on what our relationship would be, some wanted to know more about the plan for content. There was a lot of discrepancy in the essential information needed to move forward. In general, I learned I needed to be much more detailed in the future.