Why Specifications are so Important
Specifications are used throughout our lives, in ways you probably never thought about. A recipe for a cake or a cookie is a form of specification. All well written specifications are the product of concentrated group effort and are worth preserving. They represent the fruits of lengthy deliberation and study, combined with past experiences, and are essential to any efficient purchasing program.1
Specification Definition—A specification (part of an ITB/IFB or RFP solicitation) is a concise description of a good or service that an entity seeks to buy, and the requirements the vendor must meet in order to be considered for the award. A specification may include requirements for testing, inspection or preparing an item for delivery, or preparing or installing it for use, requirements for samples, descriptive literature, warranty, and packaging. The specification is the total description of the purchase.2
Specification Purpose—The purpose of any specification is to provide purchasing personnel with clear guidelines to purchasing, and to provide vendors with firm criteria of minimum product or service acceptability.3Success of the purchasing activity relies on the specification being a true and accurate statement of the buyer’s requirements.4
Characteristics of a Good Specification—A good specification has four (4) characteristics:
1Williamson County, Texas, Purchasing Manual Policies, (Revised 2001), 51.
4Bryan Kalms, Developing Specifications for Purchasing, Queensland Government, Department of Public Works, July 2003, 3.
5Purchasing Manual Policies, 51