Help for customers on writing specifications

The specification is the most important document within the tender - it provides suppliers with a description of the services or goods required, to allow them to propose the most appropriate solution or products at the best price.

Find out more below about writing specifications and access a helpful template.

Understanding the importance of the specification

Specifications must comply with the broad legal obligations for public procurement, ethical sourcing and contracting under UK and EU law. It is important that each specification is drafted by appropriately skilled personnel with knowledge of the specific subject matter.  

In a recent survey of suppliers tendering for government contracts, some suppliers stated that they found it difficult to fully understand what was being specified.

In one case a supplier reported that information central to the requirement was ‘buried’ in the tender, and as a result, they had to withdraw from the process, having already undertaken a substantial amount of work.

Poor specifications can also lead to issues during the tender evaluation stage as it may be difficult to assess if tenderers have understood or met the requirements.

If a contract is awarded, and the specification is not clear, it is likely that issues will arise with the performance of the contract which may lead to contract variations and an increase in the contract price. In certain circumstances, the contract may have to be terminated if the extent of the variations changes the basis of the original contract.

CPD advice should be sought on all contract variations


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