22 Mar



What are CPV Codes? The Pains of Procurement

CPV Codes – the abbreviation most people assume is Complex, Problematic, Valueless.

In actual fact, the term stands for Common Procurement Vocabulary – although the prior may still apply.

 What are they?

CPV codes are used to categorise tenders into a ‘subject matter’. This allows for buyers to classify a criterion of what they want to procure and helping suppliers source these business opportunities more efficiently and effectively.

Or so we had hoped.

CPV Codes are 8-digit signifiers, followed by a classification number (for e.g. 12345678-1). This is to electronically source tender/business opportunities and publish them in front of the eyes of the right businesses that offer the required service.

Basically – when a Council needs to tender for a Security contract (for example) over 5 years costing approximately £700,000 per annum, they have to post this on OJEU (due to the high value amount). They publicise this to both UK and European companies (due to the value) and list the code in order for it to be recognised by relevant Security Companies nationally and internationally. In this case, the code is 79710000-4.

This opportunity is then broadcast on various websites across the country specifically appealing to those companies who are registered on various platforms to receive opportunities with the code 79710000-4.

Following so far?

Now, the initial concept of CPV codes was destined to be the answer to buyers and supplier’s prayers nationally, as procurement moved closer toward the digital age over a decade ago. However, somewhere along the line, things got a tad confusing and more complex.

Because UK procurement is so vast and wide, there is literally a CPV code for every service and product you can think of that is mainstreamed in the UK/EU. It’s apparent that a lot of buyers are either not aware of this, are using codes incorrectly or not using them at all.

Want to find out about CPV codes and love a little light reading? Feel free to read this 375-page document – it tells you every code from the supply of Petroleum jelly (09221100-5) to the supply of Beetroot (03221111-7).

In 2016, there was a large piece of research carried out by the European Commission which stated that out of the sampled 405 contract notices tested.  23% had the wrong code associated with the scope of work tendered. That is nearly a quarter of notices not being sourced and published in the correct way through using these codes, making it HARDER for buyers to get their opportunities in front of the right businesses. Now imagine if they had tested 1000 contract notices. How many of these would have been seen by a minority and not the majority.

A recent example of this (from Feb 2018 – below) shows a DPS for the Provision of One-to-One Tutors.

CPV Codes

CPV Codes

Please also see ‘DPS – What is a Dynamic Purchasing System?’ for more information on this type of opportunity.

The buyer AND online portal in question have used the following code – 80000000-4 Education & Training Services, and probably unbeknownst to the buyer, there is a more specific code available for use – Tutorial Services 80590000-6. This is a prime example of how opportunities aren’t filtered across sub-sectors and are typically kept general and as a supplier (for let’s say ‘Business Enterprise Training’, who don’t offer 1-2-1 tutorials to children) you are either inundated with irrelevant opportunities or depending on what codes are used and which portals you are registered with (as not  websites use CPV coding) – receiving no opportunities at all.

Now, what if the buyer had only used the code Tutorial Services 80590000-6 and the supplier wasn’t receiving notifications due to them clicking an incorrect code upon sign-up or if the portal doesn’t use the CPV code option all at.


It’s worthy to note that a contract for the ‘COLLECTION OF KEY QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE INFORMATION ON THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION’S MERGER DECISIONS’ was never awarded due to the code for ‘market research’ being used, when in fact, something more appropriate like the code for ‘economic research’ or ‘research services’ could have been used.

 This is where Tender Connect steps in.

We NEVER rely on CPV codes and through using procurement specialists, we filter through all opportunities in the Creative Sector across hundreds of notification platforms daily to ensure our customers receive the bespoke opportunities that apply to THEM!

The majority of national portals have electronic algorithms that scour and publish opportunities based on CPV codes alone, meaning a quarter of these are not being publicised as effectively as they can be.

With our services – If you are a website/digital agency, a design agency or an events management company, you’ll receive individual tenders that apply to you.

We also provide Full Service Agencies a range of opportunities that are specific to them too!


Please see our ‘Why use Creative Tenders’ blog for how this works in full.

Or for more information about our Creative Tenders portal CLICK HERE.

Don’t get put off by CPV codes.

We don’t use them!

We don’t need to!

Join the revolution!

HAVE YOUR SAY! TENDER… 20th March 2018 Tender Training River City BBC LAUNCHES THIRD PH… 22nd March 2018