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Specification Writing - Pre-Contract Management

Functional (Equipment) Specifications
Functional and detailed specifications
When and how to use each type
Delivering functionality

This session explores the differences between functional and the more prescriptive, or detail, types of specification.  Practical means to improve the effectiveness of functional specifications are discussed.

Essential Characteristics of Specifications
Accurate, complete, clear, concise
Relevance, adequacy
Avoiding ambiguity
The use of trade names

In this module we examine the key attributes of specifications and show how poor specifications have contributed to failure in the past.  Many real life examples are given to illustrate where things have gone wrong and how mistakes could have been avoided.

Service Specifications
The 'output', 'method' and 'input' of services
Performance targets and measurement
Performance bonus and defaults

Writing specifications for services needs a particular approach, this is discussed and illustrated with practical examples.

Service Specifications for:
Maintenance contracts
Consultants services
IT systems and services
Design service contracts
Service level agreements

A number of different service specifications are examined.  These are currently used for a variety of applications and we look at how they differ from each other.  Specific aspects of each are discussed.

Materials Specifications
Buying "fitness for purpose"
Clarity and presentation

In this short module the delegates will be shown how to avoid the pitfalls of buying from brochures and catalogues.  Particular examples are discussed.

Specifications for Construction
Traditional problems with this industry
The New Engineering Contract
Integrating the specification

This brief session looks at the introduction of the New Engineering Contract and how it has worked for various instances. Also a detailed look at how the NEC works in practice.

Writing Specifications
Understanding written communication
Considering your reader
Using words accurately, clearly and effectively
Lists and bullet points

The practical aspects of writing are examined including how to use words accurately to describe what you want.  It uses many examples to show where poor specifications have resulted from the careless selection of words.

Quality Management and Specifications
TQM and contract documents
Reviews, the three main aspects

Learning from the mistakes of others will help you produce better specifications.  This is illustrated with particular emphasis to the process of creating specifications.

Format and Layout of Specifications
Creating a professional image
Navigating through the document
Layout, developing a generic structure
Graphics and diagrams

This session studies the way the specification is presented and looks at the ways to give the document a professional feel.  Examples of current (good) practice are given as appropriate.

Product Specifications (descriptions)
Writing "selling" documents
Specific, measurable, realistic, thorough
Using disclaimers effectively

The word "specification" sometimes describes what you want to sell to a customer rather than what you want to buy.  We look at the impact this has on the product specification (description) and how it is written.

Using other people's standards
Adequacy, avoiding over-specifying
ISO, IEC and EN standards
Where to get help using standards

Applying standards wrongly can cost time and money.  This session concentrates on the proper management of standards to produce better specifications. The impact of European Directives on specifications is investigated.

Project Specifications
Value for money in projects
Lessons for specification writing
Matching types of specification with the contract conditions
Project closeout and feedback

This session approaches the definition of the whole project or contract from the aspect of the specification and tries to identify the best ways letting the contract to ensure success.

Risk Management
Identifying risk
Assessing probability and impact
Handling risk, contingencies

This session approaches risk from the traditional angle but draws out the important factors which affect both the content and the writing of the specification.

Procurement and Specifications
Adding value and removing risk
The cost of tendering
The competitive tendering process

The importance of procurement in any organisation is emphasised most strongly.  Writing a specification can be seen as part of the procurement process - with interesting results!

Assessment of Tenders and Proposals
Structuring the process
Evaluation methods
Selecting criteria and their weightings
Security and ethics

This session examines the available ways of deciding which tender to accept and provides copious examples of various ways of achieving this end.

Legal Issues
Contract Law, making a contract
Performance and damages
Protecting intellectual property

Understanding what constitutes a contract is essential knowledge for a professional specification writer.  This session tries to explain it in plain simple terms.

Conditions of Contract
Buyer's, seller's or third party conditions
Payment, termination, title
Liquidated damages
Defects after delivery
Contract documents, consistency

A brief tour of the conditions of contract is provided in order that the writer of specifications understands how these conditions of contract support (or otherwise) specifications.

Producing Specifications
Setting clear objectives
Creative thinking, brainstorming
Managing your production time

This session is a brief look at various ways that the specification compiling process can be better organised.

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