Procurement jargon explained: Final part of the procurement glossary

Blog | September 26, 2020

Procurrement and purchasing glossaryProcurement attracts its fair share of jargon and complex, confusing terminology. Our procurement glossary concludes with 21 more definitions. You can find the rest of the series here: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7.

Target cost incentive fee

Where there is difficulty agreeing a firm price or fixed price, a pricing structure based on a ‘target cost’ is sometimes used. The difference between the actual cost and target cost (whether in the buyer or client’s favour) is then shared between the two parties by a pre-agreed ratio.

Technical or professional ability

One of the recognised criteria for measuring supplier suitability at the pre-qualification questionnaire stage.


A contractor’s formal response to an advertised contract for which they have been invited to bid. Contains quoted costs for completion of works or provision of goods/services based on the stated requirement.

Tender documents

Information, often broken down into ‘packages’, relevant to the advertised contract, provided to contractors who have been invited to bid. Includes requirement specifications, design drawings, pricing forms, deadline for submission etc.

Tender evaluation panel

A team, assembled by the buyer, with the job of analysing tender submissions against award criteria and making recommendations on the contract’s award.

Third sector organisation (TSO)

Organisations that are neither public nor private sector. Includes voluntary and community organisations (VCOs), charities, social enterprises and cooperatives.


See EC procurement threshold

Through-life management plan

Planning that brings together the behaviours, systems, processes and tools to deliver and manage projects. Relevant to all stakeholders, and to be followed and updated throughout the acquisition lifecycle.


A recognisable name, sign, or design which differentiates specific products/services from those made by competitors.


Openness, honesty and clarity in conducting business with other parties such as clients and contractors, and with the public and regulatory authorities to maintain reputation.

TUPE – Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)

The UK’s interpretation of the European Union Business Transfers Directive. They are designed to protect private sector employees in the event of a change of ownership of their employing company.

Two stage (selective) tendering

A procurement process consisting of an initial, exploratory stage (in which contractors are sometimes involved in determining the requirement); and a secondary bidding stage. See restricted procedure.

Unregistered design

Unregistered designs carry an automatic right in the UK to prevent unauthorised copying or dealing of that design in the UK. It does not allow a monopoly on the design, as registration of design can.

Valuable consideration

An element of a contract where the change of ownership of a benefit from one party to another is deemed sufficiently valuable to be enforceable in court. This can be as simple as the money changing hands when a purchase of goods is made being considered ‘valuable’ – but becomes more complicated when paid to forfeit the benefit of a legal right, for example.

Value for money

Goods, works or services supplied at not simply the lowest possible cost, but representing the best purchase in terms of the combination of cost, timeliness, security, efficiency and effectiveness.

Variants or Variant bids

Submitted bids which do not strictly align to the requirements defined in tender documents. They may seek to provide a more effective solution or pricing structure than those outlined, so need careful analysis and consideration.

Variation of price

An element of a contractual agreement which seeks to neutralise the potential impact of inflation on costs.

Voluntary and community organisation (VCO)

Term used to refer to charities, non-profit organisations and community groups.


Permission from an authority to bypass a standard procurement regulation.

Whole-life costs

See Life-cycle costing.

Without prejudice

Before court action, parties involved in negotiating the settlement of a claim should use this term to avoid liability. Communications marked ‘without prejudice’ cannot be used as evidence in court.

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