Guidelines on writing a great tender specification

Create great tender specifications

Writing a tender specification can be tricky, as anyone tasked with the responsibility of procuring equipment and suppliers for a business knows. Clearly setting out the required characteristics of a product or process is critical in order to find the perfect fit. Inadequate specifications can confuse bidders and delay the purchasing process, or result in inappropriate purchases. Seartec, one of SA’s leading office automation specialists, has put together some guidelines on writing effective tender specifications to streamline the procurement process.

Consider using performance-type specifications
Traditionally, functional specifications are used, which describe the desired design or technical characteristics of a required piece of equipment. For example, a multifunction printer might be described in terms of the minimum speed in pages per minute. A performance-type specification, however, is more open and describes how the equipment must perform. It focuses on the intended use of the product and what it would need to do – for example, a multifunction printer in a large office environment needs to handle large volumes of printing, be networkable, have a variety of finishing options for marketing documents and have security features. This leaves the supplier with freedom to provide innovative solutions that satisfy these requirements in a cost-effective and customised way.
A reminder: some considerations when writing a specification include the dimension and weight of the product, what conditions it will perform under (temperature, humidity etc) and the desired lifespan of the product and what maintenance schedule is acceptable.

Don’t fall back on historical specifications
As a business grows and evolves, requirements change. A specification that may have been relevant in the past may now be outdated. Start off by thinking about what solutions would boost productivity and cut down on inefficiency, and don’t limit the specification by focusing on a predetermined solution.

Be clear
Unclear, unnecessarily detailed specifications are confusing and can limit the number and quality of responses. Use plain language to write the specification, and use concise, direct sentences. Avoid jargon, vague terms and abbreviations that are not common knowledge, and consider having a short preface defining industry terms. The ultimate objective is to describe what is required as simply as possible. Include enough detail to give suppliers a good idea of the essential requirements but don’t restrict them with too much detail that could exclude viable options. Too much detail could also result in unnecessary frills that drive up costs. Once the document is written, proof read it from the perspective of a supplier and identify any gaps that need to be filled.
To get in touch with Seartec regarding their broad range of office automation equipment and relate service offerings and an account executive will be in touch to assist.