Develop the specification

Understand how to define features of the goods, works or services required.

Why develop a specification?

A specification may be referred to as a ‘brief’ or ‘scope of works’.

A specification is a written statement that:

  • defines, in sufficient detail, features of the goods, works or services required
  • allows participants to understand the requirement
  • allows participants to cost their offers accurately

A specification defines:

  • what is required
  • how much is required
  • where it is required
  • when it is required
  • to whom it is to be provided
  • minimum standards of service
  • mandatory qualifications and registrations
  • how it will be evaluated

Specifications may be:

  • functional – focus on what has to be achieved, rather than how it is to be done
  • performance oriented – defines performance parameters required, but not the methods used to achieve them
  • technical – highly prescriptive, usually detailed physical characteristics, such as size, materials, speed and the like
  • a combination of the above

Specifications may include:

  • maps showing where the services are required
  • technical drawings showing how the requirement is put together
  • standards for inter-operability

The specification generally forms part of the contract.

A well-designed specification helps mitigate some of the risks identified in Analyse risks.

For goods and services, see Specification writing – goods and service guide.

How to develop rules and conditions

Step 1: Check if templates are available

For construction, template specifications are not available. Specifications for construction projects are usually developed specifically for each project.

For goods and services, check to see if the Agency has a similar or old specification to use for a starting point. All specification need to be developed for each individual procurement.

See, Specification writing - goods and services guide

Step 2: Prepare initial draft

Prepare the initial draft, drawing on:

Ensure that the specification:

  • describes the requirement clearly and with clarity
  • follows a logical structure
  • does not contain superfluous information
  • is fair and balanced – does not favour any potential participant
  • avoids directly naming products, unless this is required for inter-operability
  • is consistent with other approach to market documents
  • does not duplicate parts of other approach to market documents

When developing the specification, consider how to procurement-related policies can be included.

Draw on Plan for procurement-related policies, including the Social Procurement Framework.

Step 4: Consult with key stakeholders

Consult with the following:

  • project sponsor
  • subject matter specialists
  • members of evaluation team, if known at the time
  • users

Step 5: Administrative approval

Seek administrative approval for the specification from the project sponsor.

Obtain this administrative approval before approaching the market.


Manage probity and conflicts of interest

Manage probity – consider issues raised at Probity issues by stage and task.

Conflicts of interest can arise during this task. Identify, declare, and manage these.

Address Agency rules

Consult Agency procurement team for advice on meeting:

Follow Agency specific rules on when to seek an approval and who can give the approval.

Follow Agency specific rules for recording decisions and storing records.