How to write a specification
Write a clear description of your requirement when requesting quotes for purchases below £50,000.
What is a specification?
A specification is a description of your requirement for the purpose of obtaining a quote from a supplier, and should be submitted as part of your Invitation to Quote (see “3 Quotes” guidance for procedures and ITQ template).
Tips for specifications:
- The level of detail should be proportionate to the purchase value and complexity of the requirement
- Use your knowledge of the market, or conduct market research, to determine which suppliers are able to meet your requirement
- When you submit your specification to a supplier by email, make it clear that you are submitting an Invitation to Quote (ITQ).
- Please contact the Procurement Office before writing a specification for a requirement £50,000 or above
What should be included in a specification?
In order to get an accurate quote, make sure your specifications include all the relevant information. This could include descriptions of:
- Price format
- For Services: day/hourly/all-inclusive rates (total cost)
- Required supplier experience
- Size / dimensions
- Installation / maintenance / servicing / warranty
- Delivery (you should generally request “delivery inclusive” or “Delivery Duty Paid”)
- Features / options
- Technical requirements
- Integration with existing goods / services
- Software and training
- Health and Safety
- Sustainability considerations
- Compliance with the University's Terms & Conditions
When you purchase outwith a current University contract, you will have more to consider in order to mitigate risk. Some examples should include:
- Will cost be inclusive of delivery, maintenance, installation, upgrades, etc.?
- VAT inclusive?
- International purchase? If so, have I considered which party will be responsible “incoterms” e.g., potential import taxes or customs fees?
- Will this item fit through the door or will the floor support it?
- Are there any additional regulatory requirements, e.g., Health and Safety legislation?
- Are there any relevant University Policies that I need to be aware of? e.g., request for compliance with computing visitor registration policy for service providers?
- Is sustainability a relevant consideration? Examples:
- Are poor working conditions, low pay or environmental issues an issue in the supply chain?
- Is there an appropriate way to address this in my specification, e.g. to require a Fair Trade label or equivalent?
- Is there any way to conduct this purchase in a way that contributes to the University’s goal to reach net zero carbon use by 2040, e.g., to require higher energy efficiency in equipment?