Variant bids are different from other bidding styles because they are a little more flexible than regular bids.

Typically a bid will not be accepted if it does not meet the criteria, however with variant bids organisations can submit two proposals: one that matches the outlined criteria and one “variation” to increase their chances of winning the business. Variant bids come in many shapes and sizes and can be as simple as a different pricing structure or as in-depth as a proposal detailing a new, innovative way to deliver a service.

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During a variant bid the contracting authority (the organisation issuing the tender) will notify bidders/suppliers in the contract notice to make sure all bidders who are interested in the tender are aware that Variants will be accepted.

The contract award or documentation must state the minimum requirements to be met by the variant bids. Only bids meeting the minimum criteria set out by the contracting authority can be taken into consideration.

Should notification of a variant bid being accepted not be included in the contract notice the contracting authority should not add this in at a later date (such as at the invitation to tender stage). If you are unsure if a variant bid would be accepted or what the minimum requirements are then contact the contracting authority and ask them.

Variant bids can be a great way to make your proposal stand out and gives you a chance to draw more attention to your organisation’s unique selling points. Just make sure when submitting one you have:

  1. You have received notification by the contracting authority in the contract notice that variant bids are being accepted.
  2. Made sure you submit a compliant bid that meets the criteria as well as your variant.
  3. You understand the minimum requirements of the variant bid.

If you are interested in finding out more information please contact Millstream Training and Consultancy.