Tender terminology from A to Z

Listed below are definitions of some of the most common used tender terms and terminology.


  • Alternative bid: Initiate an offer that is alternative to the tender requirements. Meaning the offer is different to what is being asked for in the tender procedure. Often the alternative bid provides advantages or benefits over the stated requirements regarding cost and/or performance. Also known as variant bid (see variant bid).
  • Award criteria: A list of key criteria or requirements, which is required for a contract to be awarded.


  • Bid: A formal proposal to deliver goods or services at a specified price, as well, describing that the tender contract requirement will be met.
  • Bid Management: Involves the process of managing the submission of a tender for a contract and managing the bid team. One of the elements behind a great bid management is a good bid team. It is common for larger businesses to have a dedicated bid writing department.


  • Closing date: Also known as the deadline for submission. This is the date and time that a tender submission needs to be delivered and received. Tenders submitted after this date might not be considered in the competition.
  • Commission:  In context with procurement, this usually refers to the European Commission. More about the European Commission here.
  • Common Procurement Vocabulary – CPV (codes): The European Union developed CPV codes with a purpose to help procurement identify, consistently and correctly find tenders that are of interest by using a standardized vocabulary. The codes generically describes products or services. You can read more about CPV codes here
  • Conditions of contract: Are set rights and obligations that the contracting parties need to follow when a contract is awarded.
  • Contract: A binding agreement between two parties to perform/deliver specified goods and/or services. 
  • Contract award: Follows when the procurement process is finalized, contracts are awarded to the winner of the tender competition.


  • Deliverables: Also known as statement of work or statement of requirement. Deliverables are usually detailed in the specification of the approach to market documentation and are linked to details.


  • E-procurement – The term is used to describe cloud-based solutions for conducting purchases of goods and/or services electronically.
  • Electronic tendering /e–tenders: An electronic tendering solution facilitate the entire tendering process from the announcement of requirements to placing the contract awards. This include all required documents in an electronic format.
  • ESPD – European single procurement document: Is an electronic self-declaration document to be submitted by suppliers interested in tendering for contracts for the supply of goods or services in the public sector. You can read more about ESPD here. Or visit this site directly.
  • EOI (Expression of interest): A multi-staged process that is used early in the procurement process. EOI is generally used when information required is very specific and the buyers are unsure if the suppliers are able to deliver these requirements. Potential suppliers are shortlisted and examined before seeking detailed bids from the shortlisted tenderers.


  • Framework Agreement: Is an agreement with suppliers that set out terms and conditions for making specific purchases governing contracts to be awarded.


  • Goods: Any physical/tangible item.
  • Governance: The framework of authority and control within an organization and establishment and implementation of policies.



  • ITT (invitation to tender): Also called request for tenders. This is the initial step in a tendering process where selected suppliers are invited to compete and submit an offer within a specified timeframe.


  • JV (Joint ventures): Normally a business entity created by two or more parties with the purpose to achieve a specific task, such as win a tender, PFI, PPP and so on.






  • Offer: Same as bid (see bid).
  • OJEU: Official Journal of the European Union (previously called OJEC – the Official Journal of the European Community). This is a publication where all tenders from the public sector with value above threshold must be published. More about OJEU here.


  • Parties: A person or organization involved in the signing of the contract. Normally comprise of a supplier and a client with shared rights and responsibilities.
  • PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement Online): The guidelines for online acquisitions established by the European Union and 18 public authorities
  • PQQ (Pre-qualification questionnaire): Is intended to help public purchasers/buyers to shortlist the number of suppliers and form part of the restricted tendering procedure. PQQ includes questions regarding level of experience, capacity and financial standing.
  • Procurement: The process of obtaining good and/or services from an external source, usually through a tendering or bidding process. This includes determining requirements of the acquisition, selecting suppliers, award selection and other related functions.
  • Procurement software: Also known as e-procurement software, simplify the procurement process through a cloud-based software solution.
  • PPP (public private partnership): See PFI.
  • PSL (preferred supplier list): Contains a list of suppliers that the business has specified to be of interest, and might be used in a specific acquisition.
  • Proposal:  See bid
  • Purchaser (also called a buyer): A government department, entity or agency that is intending to purchase goods or services from a supplier.


  • Quotation: Is the bid submitted in response to a request for quotation from a contracting authority.


  • RFT (request for tender): A formal, structured invitation to suppliers to submit or bid to supply products or services.
  • RFP (Request for proposal): Is submitted in an early stage in the procurement process and is commonly used when it is required technical expertise, specialized capability, or in some cases where the product or service requested do not already exist and must be developed.
  • RFQ (request for quotation): Suppliers are invited to provide a quote for the provision of specific goods or services.
  • RFI (request for information): Differs from an ITT (invitation to tender) and PQQ (pre-qualification) as these are pre-determined, while RFI is requesting information necessary to decide the procurement process. Hence, RFI typically occurs during a planning phase.
  • Restricted procedure: Usually limits the request of tenders to a selected number of suppliers.


  • SLA (service level agreement):  An agreement between two or more parties. Where one party is the customer and the other party is a supplier delivering a service.
  • SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises): Firms with less than 250 employed people, with a turnover of less than €50m.
  • SOPO: Society of procurement officers in local government. More about SOPO here
  • Supplier: A person or organization responsible for delivering goods or services, that meets the clients requirements and within a specified time and period.





  • Variant bid: Characterized as a more flexible style than regular bids. Complies only with the basic requirements selected for the awarding contract. Two bids can be submitted in the competition, one with exact match of the criteria and one “variation”. This opens the chances of winning and innovation. 
  • Vendor: Same as supplier (see above).





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