Bringing measurable commercial acumen to your business...
Bottom Line improvement Processes
Bringing measurable Commercial Acumen to Your Business....
Public Sector Training Section


2. Specification Writing

The Aim

The aim of this module is to provide the participants with the understanding that specifications are the central element of the competitive tendering and post award contract management process and as such need to be as clear, comprehensive and unambiguous as is humanly possible in order to reduce the probability of misunderstanding and potential claims/disputes.

Who Should Attend

The module is aimed at staff at all levels, including Directors and Senior Managers who have a strategic procurement responsibility. It is applicable to procurement professionals as well as those from a wide range of business disciplines who have a devolved procurement responsibility. Those disciplines include finance, legal, compliance, audit, engineering, design, project management, construction, purchasing, procurement, commercial/contracts and general management. Those who will benefit most will have a current or planned interface with suppliers or customers through which contracts are awarded and managed. The module will suit those with little or no previous procurement or purchasing training but will serve as a refresher for those who have some training but do not practice their skills frequently.

The Teaching Method

The teaching method is based on the Kolb learning cycle and incorporates a balanced mixture of a didactic approach and practical exercises centred on PowerPoint presentations. The structure is consistent with the skills framework for Procurement Project in Local Government in ensuring that Levels 1 and 2 (Understanding & Knowledge) are covered within the programme thus providing a firm base upon which the delegates can build their practical experience to reach Level 3 (Expertise). The module is tutor led throughout using syndicate work, highly interactive plenary discussion groups, easily understood case studies and role playing where appropriate. A formal framework is built around the delegates’ current knowledge and they are encouraged to re-discover and share their knowledge and experiences. The ideal group size is eight to twelve delegates but it is possible to extend the group size to fifteen. Copies of the training material are provided in the form of a workbook. Delegates are encouraged to develop both their short and long term memories to increase the value for money provided for the employer.

The Learning Outcomes

This module is linked to the other core modules in this programme. By the end of the module the delegates will understand the range of specifications which are brought together in order to produce a comprehensive procurement specification. The delegates will examine who owns responsibility for each of the specifications and understand the need to ensure that the evaluation and acceptance criteria are linked directly to the specification both in the tendering phase and the contractual acceptance and closure stage. The delegates will review “Prioritising” within specifications to develop evaluation and acceptance criteria that can be applied objectively and fairly. The use and applicability of internal and external standards will be reviewed and the use of these in conjunction with other documents such as drawings, schedules, part lists etc will be considered. The delegates will gain an understanding of the status of these documents within the structure of a contract, how to deal with changing standards, ensuring sustainability and the applicability date of such documents in the tendering process. Specific reference will be made to the role of “outcome” specifications and a variety of specification types will be covered (see Content).


The module is scheduled for 1 day.


The topics covered include:
  • Specifications
    • What do we mean by “specification”?
    • Why do we need specifications?
      • Transparency, fairness,
      • Evaluation criteria, performance measurement and acceptance criteria
    • What is the impact of poor specifications?
    • Prioritising within the specification – essential, highly desirable and desirable
  • Types of specification
    • Requirement Specification
    • Performance based (Operational) Specification
    • Functional Specification
    • Procurement Specification
    • Technical Specification
    • Product Specification
    • System Specification
    • Environmental Specification
    • Outcome Specifications
  • Other documents used for specifying contractual work
    • Drawings, parts lists, bills of quantity
  • Specifications – Key Aspects
    • Scope and Scale of work
    • Type of work
    • Special requirements
    • Quantity/Volume
    • Performance limits
    • Time frame – start up & duration
    • Deliverable and Delivery date
  • External & Internal Standards – Quality issues
  • Incorporation into the contract
    • Status and contractual terms & conditions
    • Precedence and priority
    • Applicability of issue dates & handling revisions
  • Service Level Agreements
    • Contractual status
    • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
    • Deliverables

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