An invitation to tender (ITT, otherwise known as a call for bids or a request for tenders) is a formal, structured procedure for generating competing offers from different potential suppliers or contractors looking to obtain an award of business activity in works, supply, or service contracts, often from companies who have been previously assessed for suitability by means of a supplier questionnaire (SQ) or pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ).
The term "notice inviting tenders" (NIT) is often used in purchasing in India.
An ITT differs from a request for quotation (RFQ) or a request for proposal (RFP), in which case other reasons (technology used, quality) might cause or allow choice of the second best offer. An RFP is a request for a price from a buyer but the buyer would also expect suggestions and ideas on how the project work should be done. RFPs are thus focused on more than just pricing/cost, they entail a bit of consulting from the contractor or vendor. The closest equivalent to an ITT in the mainstream private sector is an RFP which, since public money is not involved, typically has a less rigid structure.
The reasons for using restricted tenders differ in scope and purpose. Restricted tenders can come about because of:
A sole source tender may be used where there is essentially only one suitable supplier of the services or product.
A typical invitation to tender template in any project has the following sections:
Public sector organisations in many countries are legally obliged to release tenders for works and services. In the majority of cases, these are listed on their websites and traditional print media. Electronic procurement and tendering systems or e-procurement are also increasingly prevalent. The European Union states that 235,000 calls for tender are issued annually using its Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) system, including those issued by countries in the European Economic Area and beyond. Public sector organisations in the United Kingdom use this system but from 11pm on 31 December 2020, at the end of the Brexit transition period, a new e-notification service called "Find a Tender" (FTS) will be used to post and view public sector procurement notices. Relevant new procurement opportunities launched after 11pm on 31 December 2020 must be published on this website.
A number of companies provide subscription alert services which send notifications of relevant tender documents to the subscriber.
An array of private organisations also assist businesses in finding out about these tenders. Cost may vary from a few pounds a week to a few hundred.
Because of the specialised language and sometimes difficult-to-grasp procedures, there are several consulting organizations, like Executive Compass, who also offer companies tender writing training, or undertake bid-writing for them.
ITTs may be distributed to potential bidders through a tender service, allowing businesses to receive and search live tenders from a range of public and private sources. These alerts are most commonly sent daily and can be filtered down by geographical area, or by business sector. Some tendering services divide types of business very finely in their own way, by CPV (Common Procurement Vocabulary) codes. This enables a business to find ITTs specific to what that business can supply.
An ITT is usually an open invitation for suppliers to respond to a defined need as opposed to a request being sent to selected potential suppliers. The ITT often requests information following on from other information gathered previously from responses to a Request for information (RFI). This will usually not only cover product and service requirements, but will also ask for information about the suitability of the business.
An ITT is usually expected to conform to some legally standardized structure designed to ensure impartiality, and the tender bid winner is entitled to take responsibility of the contract business supply documentations formalities and settle any tender bid engagement charges for official recording.
A tender box is a mailbox used to receive the physical tender or bid documents. When a tender or bid is being called, a tender or bid number is usually issued as a reference number for the tender box. The tender box would be open for interested parties to submit their proposals for the duration of the bid or tender. After the closing date, the tender box is closed and sealed and can only be opened by either the tender or bid evaluation committee or a member of the procurement department with two witnesses.
In an open bid or tender system, a double envelope system may be used. The double envelope system separates the technical proposal (based on and intended to meet the statement of work) from the financing or cost proposal in the form of two separate and sealed envelopes. During the tender evaluation, the technical proposal would be opened and evaluated first followed by the financing proposal. The objective of this system is to ensure a fair evaluation of the proposal. The technical proposal would be evaluated purely on its technical merits and its ability to meet the requirements set forth in the Invitation without being unduly skewed by the financial proposal.
A tender validity date is a date until which a tenderer commits to keeping their prices (and other tender details) open for acceptance (or otherwise) by the client. Such a date is usually included in a form of tender, either as a specified date or as the termination of a specified period from another key tender date. For example, in tendering for gym equipment in 2013, West Dunbartonshire Council required tenderers to accept that "Your tender shall remain open for acceptance for ninety (90) days from the date for return of tenders indicated above, or any subsequent date notified to you by us. Your tender may be accepted by us at any time during this period."
Post-tender negotiation involves negotiation between an intending buyer and seller after a seller's tender has been submitted. An initial stage may involve tender clarification, which is intended to eliminate any uncertainties or contradictory elements of a proposal, before moving into a true "negotiation" phase.
The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply believes that "provided it is undertaken professionally and ethically, ... post tender negotiation is an appropriate process to secure value for money.
Other types of proposal and terms in use include:
The Expression of Interest (EOI) tender call is to inform tenderers of the context of the project, nature of proposed appointment and submission requirements. The aim of the EOI process is to shortlist the contenders who may be suitable for the appointment.
An Expression of Interest (EOI) is a document that an owner can issue prior to the release of the RFQ or RFP. [...] An EOI [...] would request basic information about the design-builder, solicit comments on the requested project features, and ask for an EOI for the project from the practitioners.