Basic functions / purpose of a Specification

1. Communication: clear unambiguous specifications facilitate communication between the purchasing organization and the supply market and also facilitate communication internally with users.
2. Comparison: clear unambiguous specifications facilitate a fair and more accurate comparison of suppliers‘ bids for contracts, as all bids are being compared on the same basis.
3. Indicate fitness for purpose of use –
4. Specification of a work is required to describe the quality and quantity of different materials required for a construction work and is one of the essential contract documents.
5. This also specifies the workmanship and the method of doing the work. Thus specification of a work serves as a guide to a supervising staff of a contractor as well as to the owner to execute the work to their satisfaction.
6. A work is carried out according to its specification and the contractor is paid for the same. Any change in specification changes the tendered rate.
7. As the rate of work is based on the specification, a contractor can calculate the rates of various items of works in tender with his procurement rates of materials and labour. Thus tender rate without specification of works is baseless, incomplete and invalid.
8. Provide evidence – Specifications can also be used as a record of evidence in any dispute.

Characteristics of an effective specification:
1. Simple: Avoid unnecessary detail, but be complete enough to ensure that requirements will satisfy their intended purpose.
2. Clear: Use terminology that is understandable to the agency and bidders. Use correct spelling and appropriate sentence structure to eliminate confusion. Avoid legalese type language and jargon whenever possible.
3. Accurate: Use units of measure that are compatible with industry standards. All quantities and packing requirements should be clearly identified.
4. Competitive: Identify at least two commercially available brands, makes, or models (whenever possible) that will satisfy the intended purpose. Avoid unneeded ―extras‖ that could reduce or eliminate competition and increase costs.
5. Flexible: Avoid totally inflexible specifications which prevent the acceptance of a bid that could offer greater performance for fewer dollars. Use approximate values such as dimensions, weight, speed, etc. (whenever possible) if they will satisfy the intended purpose.

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