• Sarah Lees 03/03/2015 10:23PM

    In Category Management

    Whose responsible for the writing of a specification or brief?

    Procurement has been tagged as the responsible party for the generation of a specification or brief but I believe this to be incorrect.
    What have been your experience?

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  • Answers (17)

  • Gary Bond

    04/03/2015 09:56AM

    Sarah, from my experience and preference, any specification would be a cross-functional effort with main influences being dependent on the part, complexity, etc Inputs would be required from Sales, Engineering and Procurement, with Procurement being the influence which questions the status quo, i.e. to Sales, does the customer really want this, need this, and to engineering, does it really need to be made out of this shiny expensive material.

    So I guess yes, Procurement is responsible for the generation, but not necessarily the content. Internal, and sometimes external, knowledge experts should provide the technical and market requirements.

    Hope that is what you are looking for.

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  • Luiz Fernando Paganini

    09/03/2015 02:34PM

    I really think that a material or service specification or brief should be done by the person or department who's requesting it, but Procurement professionals should give orientation on how this spec/brief should be done, in a way that facilitates the general understanding by all the suppliers taking part in the negotiation.

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  • Michael Kavourakis

    04/03/2015 05:53AM

    The business/SMEs. They're the only ones who know exactly what needs to be purchased, how it needs to be delivered, and what intricacies need to be taken into account.

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  • Anthony Manuatu

    10/07/2015 05:53AM

    Hi, I would assume that there is still a need for the specification/brief or that it hasn't changed? In my experience we have to first ask the basic questions as it will save a lot of time and resources if the needs have changed or maybe there are better alternatives long-term. Normally it is a joint consultative discussion between the key stakeholders (internal/external) and procurement but someone will need to take ownership and that should be the someone from the area requesting the specification. procurements role is to review and ask key questions to ensure all areas are covered for the life of the product/service ie contract terms and length, contract extensions, KPI's, review periods, maintenance, decommissioning, disposal, implementation, training, etc. this is where we add value - ensuring the client gets what they ask for, not what they want (if they haven't articulated it correctly in the brief or made assumptions). We bring a clear head to the specification and if it doesn't make sense to us you will probably confuse the market

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  • Hemant Chapade

    10/07/2015 05:00AM

    I believe, Ideally the onus for writing the brief (technical specifications) and the RFQ/ RFT response template (tech and commercial) is to be built by the Sourcing Specialist (Responsible Officer) in close consultation and thereby endorsed by stake holders.

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  • Abhiman Sawant, MCIPS.

    05/03/2015 10:50AM

    I am surprised with the ignorance over specification of products requested / required by users. Most of the specifications provided either come from the client or are based on previously used products. Specifications / Scope unfortunately is a matter which not taken seriously. However, answering the question from the perspective of the end user, in my opinion, it needs to come from the User / Requestor. The Procurement department could facilitate this process by providing information on the market availability of standardized products in the category

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    Gary Bond Abhiman, how in your suggestion would you deal with an enduser, customer, requesting something which is not suitable, or highly over specified for their need etc As procurement we obtain materials and products to either sell on or assemble with other components, we hold some responsibility on what we provide. The old age of "it's what they asked for" is not longer viable, or acceptable.

    05/03/2015 12:26PM

    Abhiman Sawant, MCIPS. Agree with you Gary. The responsibility of the Procurement is ever increasing. The change from “purchase” to “procurement” does not limit to the name itself, but justifies the role procurement plays in an organization today. I do believe that Procurement can only facilitate the development of specifications and administer the processes of procurement as subject matter experts and provide valuable inputs in reducing the risks.
    E.g. the requirement received from end user says “Biometric Access control” without any further information. After discussion with the user it was understood, he needs basic keypad / pin entry systems for building entrance (without any biometric functionalities). However, the role of procurement does not end there. The user was presented with various options available in the market to choose from before closing the requirement.
    Requirements / Specifications provided by end user certainly need to be questioned and evaluated. This value-add is only one small part of Procurement function.

    08/03/2015 10:41AM

    Saravanar B I partly agree with Abhiman here. In many a cases, specifications are based on previously used product. However would like to highlight two points : (1) R&D is the starting point who defines the specification of any item a buyer is going to purchase. However, R&D person alone is NOT the responsible person. (2) R&D should work in unison with the supplier to meet the specification of the product that will meet the requirement, which in turn will be facilitated by the procurement person. It is a cross functional activity and not decided by single party/department.

    Having said this, the onus lies on procurement to execute this on ground and get it implemented to have effective sourcing.

    10/03/2015 06:26PM

  • Helen Mackenzie

    04/03/2015 07:53PM

    It's definately procurement's role to lead and facilitate. The content has to come from the client - the department/user. Our job is to transform an expression of the requirement into something which suppliers can respond to. We're trying to move over to performance (output) specifications for the commodities that we buy and this takes quite a bit of work with our clients to move away from specifying every single aspect. Great results when we do go for this approach.

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  • Stephen Feenan

    04/03/2015 04:36PM

    My answer is, all stakeholders would have input on the requirement (procurement responsible for carrying out a demand analyses) take for example 1,000 hockey balls for a week long tournament. The stakeholders would input specifications like, Qty, what shape, size, weight, colour, where to be delivered, when? all on the same day etc and how, maybe a minimum safety or example BS spec etc. Do all 1000 need to be high spec match balls? All branding should be avoided like " slazenger" unless sponsorship, value in kind etc are part and parcel of the requirement. Procurement and contracts (carry out a supplier analyses) then bring this info together and put it into the PO or RFQ or RFI or Tender depending on timescales.
    So in answer to your question, the stakeholder is responsible for the brief, procurement and or contracts are responsible for writing the specification in line with the stakeholders brief. An internal collaboration between all will ensure that the potential suppliers know what they are bidding for.

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  • Cristian Martin

    04/03/2015 12:02PM

    Hi Sarah, good question, one I struggle with where I work too. I believe the contract manager in the department using/running the service is responsible for writing it, but the problem being is the lack of skill in that person. It also depends on the type of tender you intend to do, my personal preference is for conformance type specifications to allow for easy tender bid comparison. To that end, I don't think it belongs anywhere and needs to be developed by both the contract manager and procurement. I think a good first step would be for them to put pen to paper, provided they understand that it will be worked on by procurement. Where I work I am writing a training session on specification writing and will provide templates to help extract that information out of them and make hopefully my and my teams life easier. - What are your plans to address it?

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  • Alun Rafique

    03/02/2016 08:32AM

    If procurement is accountable for the tender then they should take responsibility for the Specification/ Brief. That doesn't mean they cant have other departments/ people help write it.

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  • Sarah Lees

    27/07/2015 11:53PM

    WOW! Thank you to everyone who took the time and put so much effort into their reply's for my simple yet thought and discussion provoking question. We all suffer from that stakeholder who believes we can and will do everything for them and some times, it is easier. As a Procurement Professional (yes I believe that is what we all are) there does need to be a line drawn. I have tried charts, spread sheets and even Word table in pretty colours.
    My conclusion;
    We will have to 'Grin and bear it' from sometime yet.

    Thank you all again. Have a great week

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  • Michelle Lambert

    10/07/2015 02:20PM

    It would be the stakeholders to write the intial specification as it is to fulfil their requirement. It would be expected that they would know what and how they want the service to be delivered. Procurement would then refine the document or provide advice and guidance and ensure that document is sound and legal. It would very much depend on the item that you wish to procure for a very low value quotation procurement would not be involved at all.

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  • Mathias Peter

    10/07/2015 11:56AM

    The content has to be defined by the user. Procurement can only support the process of creating a specification in order to make sure that the specification fits to the demand and is not oversepcified.

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  • Saravanar B

    10/03/2015 06:26PM

    I partly agree with Abhiman here. In many a cases, specifications are based on previously used product. However would like to highlight two points : (1) R&D is the starting point who defines the specification of any item a buyer is going to purchase. However, R&D person alone is NOT the responsible person. (2) R&D should work in unison with the supplier to meet the specification of the product that will meet the requirement, which in turn will be facilitated by the procurement person. It is a cross functional activity and not decided by single party/department.

    Having said this, the onus lies on procurement to execute this on ground and get it implemented to have effective sourcing.

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  • Scott Bennett MCIPS

    07/03/2015 09:27PM

    depends on the product services being procured.. large scale public sector procurement for example has rightly been criticised in the past for using the suppliers in the 1st round of the exercise to correct, improve and clarify the requirements at some cost and time delays to the project...think also defence projects here . These days the value in involving the potential suppliers in the earliest stage possible is not only allowable but desirable and enshrined in the public sector procurement rules and guidance. So as stakeholders the suppliers can and in some cases should also be involved in the process of spec preparation.

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  • Sarah Lees

    05/03/2015 10:13PM

    Thank you to everyone who took the time and thought to offer their insight for my question. Have a relaxing and safe weekend.

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  • Allan Wright

    05/03/2015 09:35PM

    The requester. Procurement cannot be left to guess what might be required that in turn could in all probability result in incorrectly spec'd goods or services being ordered and the supplier providing the same. Even when tendering existing business, although Procurement shall already know what has to be holistically provided it should refer any scope of work to the end user in order to secure prior buy-in before issuing ITT/RFQ. There's also separation of duties to consider from governance standpoint. Scopes of work or specifications and RFQ issuance need to be done by separate functions.

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