What’s the difference between EOIs, RFTs, RFPs and bids?

If you’re bewildered by the different terms used by procurement or your business development colleagues when it’s coming to winning new business, don’t be alarmed. It can be confusing and it’s natural to be unsure what words such as bids, tenders, expressions of interest, tender and proposals all mean. 

Very often, though, these words are used interchangeably. For example, for most people a bid, an offer, a tender and a proposal are the same thing.  

To make it clearer, here’s our quick guide to what all these terms mean. 

EOIs.

Expressions of Interest are used to test the market, often by government or large or listed companies, to identify options for delivery of a future service or project. They are very like ‘mini’ tenders and bids. EOIs ask a series of questions about the responding company’s skills, experience and an outline of how they would deliver the project or service. The main difference between an EOI and a tender or bid is that pricing is rarely asked for. 

Companies that are shortlisted following the EOI are later invited to submit a tender, following the issue of a formal Request for Tender. 

Tenders.

Tenders are when a company or government issues a Request for Tender for a project, service or product that it needs. Companies responding to the Request for Tender are ‘tenderers’.  

The term ‘tender’ is very often used interchangeably with ‘bid’. 

Requests for tenders are formal, usually comprising a collection of documents including the scope of works, draft contract and response schedules. Tenderers must complete the response schedules – this is their tender. 

The response schedules will ask about the tenderer’s experience, people, how it will deliver the scope of works, plus insurances, policies and technology, among other things. 

Tenders are usually led by a tender manager, who may need to gather information from colleagues inside and outside their organisation.  

Tender Manager.

A tender manager can be an internal role or an external consultant. The job title is used interchangeably with bid manager. Tender managers manage the tender response process from start to finish. They may even be involved in business development (capture lifecycle –identifying and converting business opportunities). 

Tender managers supervise the tender response process. They make sure that all the tender response schedules are completed correctly. They collate all the information and requirements for a complying tender. They must also ensure that the tender is submitted on time.  

This may involve research and liaising with colleagues including Subject Matter Experts. Plus, when managing a tender, the tender manager may also be the tender writer, responsible for writing the responses to the questions set in the tender response schedules.  

Successful tender managers must have great people management skills. Their role can involve a lot of cajoling. Tender managers also need great attention to detail, and good writing skills. Plus, they need to be able to deal with pressure as managing tenders is high stress and involves non-negotiable deadlines. 

Tender Writers.

SMEs often don’t have the luxury of in-house tender writers. The business owner or marketing or business development manager, if there is one, is often responsible for writing the company’s tenders. Some companies, including larger ones, will have an in-house tender writer, although this can also be the in-house tender manger. Some companies will outsource their tender writing to professional expert tender writers such as Proof Communications. 

Whether the tender writer is in-house or external, they are responsible for writing the responses to the tender questions in the response schedules. They must do this in a way that both answers the questions and presents their company as the most viable choice. 

Tender writers will review content from previous tenders (or bids and proposals) and rewrite it or edit it to answer the questions in the response schedules. They will also speak with Subject Matter Experts to gather information that isn’t available in previous tenders. 

Bids or Offers.

Bids or Offers are when a company is approached by another asking it to ‘bid’ or ‘make an offer’ to provide a service or product. Bids or Offers can be informal or formal. They can involve a formal Request for Offer (or Bid) document, which the responding company (the ‘Bidder’ or the ‘Offerer’) has to complete and return.  

Equally, a Request for a Bid or a Request for Offer may be more relaxed, such as a letter attached to an email, asking the recipient to provide its bid or offer to provide its service or product. In these cases, there is no formal response template to be completed. 

Bids can involve staff from across the whole business and even other organisations. They are usually led by a bid manager, who may need to bring together information from colleagues inside and outside their organisation.  

Bid Managers.

Bid managers manage the complete end-to-end bid submission process. This may involve research, collating information, speaking to internal and external Subject Matter Experts and determining the value propositions before starting writing the bid response. 

Successful bid managers must have great people management skills as the role can involve a lot of cajoling. They also need great attention to detail, and good writing skills. Plus, they need to be able to deal with pressure as managing bids is high stress and involves non-negotiable deadlines. 

Bid Writers.

While SMEs often don’t have the luxury of in-house bid writers, they may outsource this role to an external professional bid writer such as Proof Communications. Alternatively, the business owner, bid manager or marketing or business development manager may be responsible for writing the company’s tenders. Larger companies more often have an in-house bid writer. 

Whether the bid writer is in-house or external, they are responsible for writing the responses to the tender questions asked in the response schedules. They must do this in a way that both answers the questions and presents their company as the most viable choice. 

Proposals.

Proposals can be one of two types: 

  • Formal proposals. These are exactly like tenders.

A company or government issues a Request for Proposal for a project, service or product that it needs. Companies responding to a formal Request for Proposal are ‘respondents’.

Often, the Request for Proposal is very prescriptive about how the service, product or project will be delivered. The scope of works is very defined. Other times, a ‘proposal’ asks for proposals – that is, ideas about how the product, service or project can be delivered. 

  • Informal proposals.

These are sent to a prospective client in response to a request from that prospective client for a ‘proposal’ from a potential supplier to supply a product, service or project with pricing. There is no formal Request for Proposal and so the potential supplier can decide what to include in the proposal. This type of proposal needs to be a client-focused selling document. It must be tailored precisely to the prospective customer’s needs, often discussed at a prior meeting.

Informal proposals usually start with an executive summary and then identify the problem or business opportunity, define the solution and how it will work (the methodology or project plan together with performance criteria), budget / pricing and organisational details, including names and description of credentials (past performance) and expertise of the individuals who will be responsible for managing and performing the work. 

Proposal Writer.

Proposal writers are very similar to tender writers. Both terms are used interchangeably. The business owner or marketing or business development manager, if there is one, is often responsible for writing the company’s proposals. Some companies, including larger ones, will have an in-house proposal writer, who may also be the in-house proposal manger. Some companies will outsource their proposal writing to professional expert proposal writers such as Proof Communications. 

Whether the proposal writer is in-house or external, they are responsible for writing responses to the questions in the formal Request for Proposal response schedules and writing informal proposals. They must do this in a way that both answers the questions and presents their company as the most viable choice. 

Other frequent terms 

Subject Matter Experts (also known as Technical Specialists). 

These are in-house experts on specific subjects. They are focused on delivery but their knowledge can be important to tender, bid and proposal responses. For example, they might be experts in business disaster recovery; risk management; procurement; or engineering. 

Technical Writers.

These are writers who specialise in explaining technical language clearly and simply. They often write instruction manuals but can be useful contributors to tenders, bids and proposals where technical information needs to be communicated in plain English. 

Capability Statement.

These are a cross between a brochure and an informal proposal. They sum up a company’s ‘capability’. If a company has more than one skill area, it may have a series of capability statements. A capability statement briefly describes a company’s experience, it’s team, what it does, how it does it and its experience. Case studies can be useful in capability statements. 

If you would like to know more about writing EOIs, bids, tenders and proposals, get in touch with us today on 0411 123 216 or email us at rosemary@proofcommunications.com.au.

  • Need help with tender writing?

    Contact us for more information about how we can make your tender successful.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Share This: