RFP Project Management: 7 Methods to Win More Consistently

Senior Content Marketing Manager at Loopio
Katie Flood

Why do some proposals win—yet others don’t? It could be your value props, win themes, or even the team’s delivery. But often, an underestimated factor is your team’s journey to submit the final bid.

That’s because effective RFP project management can be the difference between winning with ease—and losing spectacularly. Clear communication, selective bidding, and even a thorough review process can be what consistently sets your team up for success.

In this article, you’ll learn seven proven project management strategies to streamline your proposals, understand critical roles, and tools to support productive RFP management.

What Is RFP Project Management?

RFP project management refers to the strategic organization of resources, timelines, and tasks involved in responding to a request for proposal (RFP).

Key steps for RFP project management include:

  • Decision-making on bid participation
  • Planning upfront with stakeholders
  • Drafting your proposal (and key win themes)
  • Submitting to the evaluator
  • Post-submission follow-up

Taking a systematic approach helps organizations manage their resources effectively, align with strategic objectives, and enhance their chances of securing contracts.

At its core, RFP project management should focus on ensuring the proposal meets the client’s requirements—and stands out against the competition. The end goal is to produce compelling proposals that are both high-quality and aligned with the organization’s goals. Plus, ultimately increase your likelihood of winning the bid.

7 Project Management Methodologies for RFP Responses

So, now that you know what RFP project management is—it’s time to decide what methodology would work for your team. Here are seven classic project management techniques that you can adapt for your RFP process.

  • 1. Color Reviews

    Color reviews are a series of reviews that occur at different stages of the RFP response process. Each color represents a different stage of review, designed to improve the quality of the proposal with every round. For example, a Pink Review might be an early draft review, a Red Review might focus on compliance with RFP requirements, and a Gold Review might be the final review before submission. These reviews are helpful for identifying issues at different stages of proposal writing—and assigning clear goals at each stage of review.


  • 2. Agile

    Agile methodology is characterized by its flexibility, iterative process, and focus on collaboration. Using an agile framework for RFP project management can help teams learn how to quickly adapt to changes in project scope, plus encourage continuous feedback. This is particularly useful when responding to complex RFPs, where input from different stakeholders may expand the scope of writing during proposal development.

  • 3. Waterfall

    The waterfall methodology is a linear and sequential approach where each phase of the project must be completed before moving on to the next. This approach can be effective for RFP responses as it focuses on sequential work. For example: ensuring that an internal subject matter expert (SME) submits insights to your team before you craft the first draft to a question that requires their input.

  • 4. Lean

    Lean project management focuses on creating more value with less work by eliminating waste and optimizing processes. Applying lean principles to RFP responses can help teams identify and remove unnecessary steps, streamline collaboration, and focus on the elements that add the most value to the proposal.

  • 5. Kanban

    Kanban is a visual workflow management method that enables teams to visualize their work, limit work-in-progress, and maximize efficiency (or flow). Kanban boards can be used ito track the progress of different sections of the proposal—or track the progress of multiple RFPs assigned to your team. For example: moving a project through the example stages below.

    Stages of an RFP Kanban Board:

    • Stage 1: Unassigned →
    • Stage 2: Kickoff →
    • Stage 3: First Draft →
    • Stage 4: Second Draft →
    • Stage 5: Final Proofread →
    • Stage 6: Submission →
    • Stage 7: Feedback
  • 6. Six Sigma

    Six Sigma is a data-driven approach that focuses on improving the overall quality of business processes. In the context of RFP responses, Six Sigma can be applied to measure the quality of the proposal process, implementing improvements, and reducing errors that enhance the quality of a submission.

  • 7. Scrum

    Scrum is a framework that organizes teams around a set of roles, responsibilities, and meetings that never change. It allows for quick adjustments and iterative development, which can be particularly useful in RFP responses for managing complex projects with tight deadlines.

✨ Tip: Start by Mapping Your RFP Process

Every organization is different, so you may choose to adapt parts of different methods, to see which RFP project management approach works best for your team.

Whatever style you choose, we’d recommend you start by mapping out your ideal RFP response process. 🗺️ Then, apply those steps to one of the project management methodologies above.

How RFP Project Management Can Help Your Team

Good project management can be the difference between keeping your team aligned—and seeing your RFP go off the rails. 😵‍💫

Each phase—from kickoff to submission—is handled with care. An RFP project management plan keeps your team focused on common goals, clarifies roles & responsibilities, and ultimately helps everyone execute their tasks within the assigned deadline.

Below are three key benefits of using a consistent approach to RFP project management.

  • Improve Communication

    Outside of responding to a particular bid, proposal project management can also set teams up for overall success in any RFP response process through education, training, and communication. After all, success in an RFP response project hinges on effective coordination and clear communication between team members, stakeholders, and potential vendors.

  • Streamline the Process

    Navigating the RFP process involves finding the most direct and efficient path to success. This is where streamlining becomes critical. Using RFP response templates, for example, can speed up the creation process, enabling procurement teams to produce proposals more quickly and accurately.

  • Increase Win Rates

    Let’s face it: The ultimate goal is increasing the win rates of your RFPs. Efficient RFP project management can help you achieve this goal. Teams can enhance their focus by being selective about which bids to participate in, resulting in better management of team workload.

    Moreover, aligning the goals of the RFP team with the overall business objectives can improve the efficiency of the proposal completion process. According to Loopio’s 2024 RFP Trends & Benchmark Reports, the industry average win rate for RFPs is 43% across all sectors. Efficient RFP project management can improve that rate by:

    • Determining the RFPs worth responding to (with the highest possible win rate)
    • Reducing the time spent on creating the proposal
    • Ensuring the RFP response is top-notch quality

Key Roles to Involve

RFPs are a team sport, so effective RFP project management requires support from a few key roles. Depending on the scale of your organization, different individuals may play multiple roles in your process (like a proposal manager playing double duty as a project manager).

Below are four key roles to involve in any RFP process.

  • The Project Manager

    An RFP project manager is the quarterback who guides the entire RFP response process from start to finish. This role demands an individual who is highly organized, detail-oriented, and possesses problem-solving skills, coupled with effective communication.

    A good RFP project manager should:

    • Understand and communicate the project objectives
    • Provide clear expectations about requirements and timelines
    • Facilitate seamless communication between team members
    • Gather and utilize competitive intelligence about other bidding companies as well as the client
    • Conduct and lead productive team meetings (like the kickoff)

    Tip: The roles of the project manager and proposal manager may be distinct within an organization. However, in some cases, particularly in smaller teams or organizations, one person may fulfill both the roles of proposal management and project management.

  • The Proposal Expert

    Behind every successful RFP process is an efficient proposal team. Depending on the size (and complexity) of your organization, the proposal expert role could be a:

    • RFP Coordinator
    • Proposal Specialist
    • Bid Writer
    • RFP Lead
    • Proposal Manager
    • Proposal Director

    This role brings unique (and essential) expertise to any proposal project. They understand how to craft compelling win themes, pull together the right internal experts, and ultimately deliver a quality RFP that could win new business.

  • Subject Matter Experts

    Subject matter experts (also known as SMEs) contribute specific expertise to different areas of a proposal.

    For example: new product lines, technical insights, security certifications—all of this information (and more) typically needs to be provided from an internal SME to ensure you’re using the most up-to-date, accurate content in your RFP.

  • The Reviewers

    One of the final checkpoints in your proposal process, the reviewers may be someone who does a final proofread—or the executive that you need to sign-off on your positioning.

    This important role is typically not involved in the day-to-day execution of the proposal, but rather comes in as a second set of eyes, when prompted by the proposal expert, or project manager.

Tips for Successful RFP Project Management

It’s not just about choosing the appropriate methodology to follow. The right tools and resources can make all the difference in RFP project management.

For organizations managing a multitude of RFPs, the development of a sustainable proposal creation process is pivotal. Patience is needed when implementing new RFP project management techniques and in learning to adapt the process for the best results.

Don’t get discouraged by initial challenges in RFP management; stay focused on the overarching goals and address the root causes of issues. It’s a journey. But with a clear focus, strategic planning, and the right tools, the path to success becomes easier to navigate.

  • Adapt to Project Size and Complexity

    As every RFP project possesses its own unique characteristics, you’ll inevitably need to iterate on your approach. Adaptability in RFP project management is crucial because not every proposal requires the same level of effort. For example: A shorter and more concise request for information (also known as an RFI) may simply need a small project to streamline the process.

  • Use RFP Templates

    RFP templates are practical tools that provide a standardized framework for proposals. They ensure uniformity across all proposal documents—and can enhance the speed and accuracy of the proposal process by offering pre-defined questions, sections, and formatting.

    Using a tool like Loopio can help your team with pre-built RFP templates. Plus, Loopio has software that streamlines RFP management through response automation, which saves time and reduces the potential for errors.

  • Develop a Structured Content Library

    Knowledge is power, and your library is the power source for any RFP project. A modern content management system is crucial for sharing knowledge and collaborating effectively, facilitating informed decision-making.

    Loopio’s content library offers a dynamic repository for storing and managing a company’s collective intelligence. This functionality allows for the quick retrieval of accurate, up-to-date information that can be used to respond to RFP questions efficiently. It also supports version control, ensuring all team members can access the latest materials.

    The Loopio library categorizes information into easily searchable sections, making it possible to find relevant content quickly. Users can even tag entries with keywords, further simplifying the search process. Additionally, Loopio’s library includes a feature for tracking the performance data of past RFP responses, providing insights into what content performs best and helping to refine future proposals.

  • Host RFP Debriefs & Collect Data

    Past experiences are a valuable compass to guiding any team’s future projects. Conducting debrief meetings (also known as “retros”) after winning or losing an RFP helps teams learn from valuable customer feedback and apply those learnings to future RFPs.

    Stakeholder feedback during debriefs is also crucial for helping RFP project managers to identify improvements and successful strategies for future proposals. Periodic feedback sessions and retrospectives can also offer provide a helpful opportunity to discuss the overall process, highlighting success, as well as areas for improvement.

    No matter what you’re doing to collect insights—debrief meetings, insight from the buyer, or otherwise—consistently tracking and recording the insights you gather is essential. By tracking metrics such as win rates, completion rates, and response times, you can begin to establish credible baselines, against which you can measure team performance.

💡Tip: How RFP Software Can Help

RFP management software that facilitates automation and tracks communication, along with tools for supplier evaluation, can render the RFP process more efficient and cost-effective.

Key features of RFP software tools include centralized workflows, collaboration, knowledge management, automatization, integrations, and the ability to expedite the RFP response process by automatically suggesting relevant content from the library.

RFP management software (like Loopio) not only simplifies the process, but also provides valuable insights that can be pivotal for project success. Loopio’s platform, for example, offers features such as answer automation, centralized communication channels, and built-in project management tools.

Summary: Project Management is Key to a Successful RFP Process

Navigating the RFP process might seem daunting—but with the right tools, techniques, and team, the journey can be a rewarding one.

To consistently execute on your process, RFP automation software can be the ace up your sleeve for a successful process. From automating content suggestions to simplifying the scoring and evaluation process, the right platform can drastically improve cycles of the RFP production.

Organizations that use RFP software tend to influence significantly more revenue annually compared to non-software users. The average software user spends just 28 hours per RFP, which is five hours less than non-software users at 33 hours. Over time, those savings adds up. If the average team submits 175 bids per year, that means that software users save 785 hours in a single year.

Whether you use software or not, you can take simple steps to streamline your process with the help of templates and a solid content library. But above all, clear communication, adaptability, and learning from past experiences are the guiding lights that steer your RFP project management to success.

FAQs About RFP Project Management