In the first post of this series, I indicated that when a purchase fails to meet an organization’s expectations, it is often like a restaurant patron being served dog food. This post will describe the role that good specifications have in ensuring that the goods and services that you order meet your organization’s expectations.
You see, a good specification is often the difference between those purchases that go successfully and those that are rife with disappointment. Every purchase has some type of specification, but not every specification is a good one.
So what might a good specification include?
A few of the many possible components of a good specification include a description of the product or service. You may also include the physical characteristics of a product, such as its dimensions, color, materials, etc.
Some good specifications describe the performance characteristics of a product or service. Performance characteristics discuss the results that you want to achieve from the use of a product or service. For example, performance characteristics of a piece of production equipment may be expressed as the output per minute or hour.
Compatibility is another element that you want to include in your specification. Think about it. Even if you don’t buy software for your company, you likely may buy software for your home computer. And what compatibility issues do you have to think about when buying software?
Right – PC or Mac? Or the operating system – Windows XP or Vista?
The same attention to compatibility can apply to non-software purchases as well. For example, one of Next Level Purchasing’s customers leases cranes. And the spare parts they stock have to be compatible with the cranes that they lease. So when you’re buying to support equipment, vehicles, or other things on which additional items can be installed, you have to think about the compatibility: how well some new accessory will work with what you already have.
So, just now, I rattled off several components of a good specification and I’m just getting started. So do you need all of these components to buy a product or service that meets your expectations? Do you need a 40-page specification for every purchase?
You may just need one thing that covers all the bases.
What is that one thing?
Stay tuned for Part III of this series.