Specification Contents

Quickfire Guide

Quickfire Guide

Specification Contents

The specification should include:


Focus on the outputs required without fixing the method(s) the supplier should use (output specification)


Be sufficiently tight so that the product or service fits the user's needs.  However not so fixed that it discourages supplier innovation that improve Value For Money (VFM)

Special Conditions

Consider whether to include special conditions relating to the performance of the contract.  This may cover economic, innovation-related, environmental, social or employment-related conditions e.g. community benefit clauses & prompt payment of sub-contractors clause.


Include criteria for acceptance of the products or services

Service Levels

Include service levels and a process for measuring ongoing performance

Avoid over-specification

Avoid over-specification of performance (more than "Fit for Purpose" or than is actually required).  This aims to reach a  balance between whole life cost and quality


Take account of any e-Commerce requirements

Sustainable Procurement Duty

Comply with the Sustainable Procurement Duty

Environmental considerations

Detail environmental and climate performance levels, where appropriate


Take into account suitability of design for all users.  Specify a conformity assessment e.g. ensuring a web site meets accessibility standards through specifying appropriate font sizes.


Take account of relevant legislation e.g. health and safety and equality


Take account of all licensing requirements that a supplier must have  to operate in an  industry/sector.  These requirements must be relevant to the performance of the contract e.g. a supplier of water and waste water services must hold a current retail license for the provision of water and waste services in Scotland

User Instructions

Provide for user instructions where appropriate


Detail required packaging, marking and labelling


Conformity to assessment procedures


Outline required quality levels

Product Requirements

Outline performance, use of the product, safety or dimensions, including s the name under which the product is sold.  Please note you cannot specify a particular product or brand and must allow for the offer of equivalent products

Production processes

Production processes and methods at any stage of the life cycle of the supply or service.  For example to meet ethical, social or environmental objectives

Fair participation

Encourage fair participation.  Do not write in a way that distorts market competition or limits supplier entry to the procurement process


Ensure that any requirements for limits, tolerances, deliverables, timescales etc. are practical and realistic

Commercial considerations

Consider commercial and ongoing performance management aspects of the contract throughout the supply chain e.g. payment terms, including those to sub-contractors

Evaluation criteria

Support a structured method of tender evaluation

Formal contract

Be the basis of the formal contract between the Organisation and the supplier


Define testing and test methods.  This includes any certification that may be required as proof from regulatory authorities to meet the standards required


The specification may also refer to factors of the production process, provision or trading. These factors may not form part of the material substance of the product, e.g. when technically describing the products or services you want to purchase, you may require that they do not involve toxic chemicals or are produced/provided using energy-efficient machines.