Post 281 –by Gautam Shah




Following Types of SPECIFICATIONS are discussed here.



In Commerce, Industry and Government many different types of specifications are used for acquisition of products or assignments. The process depends on nature of relationship between the acquirer, or assigner on one side and the vendor, supplier, assembler or manufacturer on the other side. It depends on the traditions in the field. Format of specification is formed by the technology and quality of available public specifications used for the product or process.



These are restrictive kind of specification limiting the bidding to equivalent products of a given one or few brands. The brands chosen are presumed to be the best, adequate or representative one in the market. It is killing the competition. The supplier of unspecified brand is required to show that offered product is indeed equivalent. To supply goods of the named brand, various dealers of the same product will have to contest, a condition unlikely to be allowed by the main distributor. Such a restricted practice is employed by Government Departments and organizations who do not wish to spend time or effort to define-search for product specifications. The procuring agency automatically gets the right to determine equivalence. This process has doubtful legitimacy, but is none the less practiced.


Lists of qualified products are mainly formed by Government agencies as recommendation to their departments for purchase of commonly used items. In some countries Non governmental organizations (NGOs) set up filters to identify undesirable products and processes. Such lists often suggest uses and typical price range for such items. The criteria for formulating and updating a QPL are in a public domain, and periodically updated. A purchase mentions the code and calls for + or – over the standard price tag is usually in public domains.

In India, The Central Purchase Organization DGS&D (Directorate General of Supplies & Disposals) typically creates lists goods with approved rates. The term goods used in this manual apply generally to all articles, material, commodities, livestock, furniture, fixtures, raw material, spares, instruments, machinery, equipment, industrial plant etc. purchased or otherwise acquired for the use of Government but excluding books, publications, periodicals, etc. for a library.


Design specifications mention dimensional and other physical requirements of the item. Design here means a method or scheme of creating or putting together an item. It is the most traditional kind of specification. Design specifications are prescription of what an entity should be in its completed form. These are also called Item Specifications, as the design details are itemized in terms of the execution, material’s technology or mode of execution. Design specifications show how the item must be created, and often with the additional information (but, usually less effectively) what the final product is intended to be (goal, dreams, perception). Here the problems arise, because a manufacturer or supplier is emphatically told what and how to produce or deliver. In most cases this means a demand for a very customized Item. It leaves no chance for the manufacturer or supplier to offer, technologically or economically superior item, or one from their own standard range.

Indian Space Programme Design specification assembly


Performance specifications list the expectations how an entity should function or what it must deliver. Here the user communicates the requirements as to What will be an acceptable product, and How the adequacy of the product will be judged. The performance specification is more related to how a product performs or functions and at what cost, and less related to its dimensions, materials or configuration. The vendor gets substantial freedom in offering the most appropriate technology. For such specifications it is mandatory to explain in detail the results required and how these be will be checked. All performance requirements must be matched with tests for adequacy. There is a tendency to demand performance requirements that are very high in comparison to actual projections, which leads to cost escalation.

Screenshot 2021-06-18 at 09-10-11 NASA Navy V-22 Rotor testing in the NASA Ames 40x80ft Subsonic Wind Tunnel Test-568 with [...]

Problems arise when test methods for judging adequacy of a product could require a ‘Destructive Testing’ or a ‘Laboratory or Plant-based facility’. Full activation or critical testing of an atomic reactor may not be feasible, or a long term performance of material cannot be checked in any setup. The provision of assurance by the supplier becomes very important.

Performance requirements


Operational specifications have lesser bearing on how an item is created or procured, but relate to the working of a system. These relate to the functioning of the item, and for that reason product formation, delivery, installation processes must have built in strategy for operation or conduction with optimum efficiency. Operational specifications are not performance specifications, but details about mitigating risks arising out of operation of a system.



Post 195 –by Gautam Shah 



Systems specifiers like a designer deal with a product or system only occasionally and do not get frequent feedback, whereas a system provider (such as the supplier, manufacturer, fabricator or installer) is consistently involved in supply field, and receives feedback from diverse sources. System providers as a result have a better understanding and capacity to improvise the product. A system specifier may specify a technologically adequate system, but a system provider offers a technologically superior and economically most appropriate item.

Trump International Hotel

Trump International Hotel

A designer as a system specifier must work in close collaboration with the markets (represented as the supplier, manufacturer, fabricator or installer, etc.). To specify performance, ideally a system specifier and the parties capable of submitting the proposal or bid, both must have a consensus as to what the requirements are. But this type of neutral interaction is not possible or desirable in Government deals. So it is desired that requirements of performance are specified quantitatively rather than qualitatively. Qualitative data can provide varying interpretations and cause misunderstandings, but quantitative data is easily verifiable.


From WW-II, and even before that vast majority of buildings (plants, products, systems) were procured using detailed design prescriptions. These contained specifications, standards, manufacturing drawings, processes, inspection procedures, etc. From 1964 and chiefly from 1993 committees of US Department of Defence proposed that objective Performance standards be offered. It is an accurate statement of the needs or performance expected of an entity and ways how that will be assessed.


Performance specifications, unlike the Design specifications (item specifications) do not prescribe the means or methods for achieving the results, or creating a product. Design specifications exactly define the quality of raw materials, processes to convert the raw materials into a deliverable product. The suppliers or vendors have no freedom to choose any other (even if better and economic) materials and methods. Products created with design specifications create a huge liability as the owner-designer, are responsible for ‘design and related omissions, errors, and deficiencies in the specifications and drawings’.

Lexus Car

Lexus Car

Performance specifications define the functional requirements for the product, the environment in which it must operate, and the interface and interchangeability requirements. Performance Specifications tell a manufacturer, vendor, supplier or provider: What is considered to be an acceptable product? And How will the product’s acceptability be judged?


Performance specifications state the requirements in terms of the results to be achieved and provide criteria for verifying the compliance.

〉 Performance and Verification: Any condition, characteristic, or capability that must be achieved, and is essential for item to perform in the perceived environment must be plausible and verifiable.

〉 Restrictions in Performance Specifications: Performance specifications must not limit a provider to specific materials, processes (including quality of man power or equipments), parts, etc. One can, however, prohibit certain materials, processes, or parts when authorities have declared quality, reliability, or safety concerns such materials, technics or processes, as for example environmentally harmful technologies. Upper and/or lower performance characteristics can only be stated as requirements, but not as goals or best efforts.

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〉 Structural, Architectural and Interior Design jobs and Performance Specifications: Such jobs consist mainly of industrially produced and standard components, but their composition (fabrication, installation or siting) is a unique phenomenon. Performance specifications at parts or components level are not very difficult to implement. Adopting a performance specification strategy for large complex systems, or whole projects is a very difficult proposition. Design professionals can overcome this problem by consciously moving towards self-sufficient systems like plug-in modules, rather then excessively customized products that remain one-time efforts. Performance specifications at lower levels such as for replaceable components and spares, should include essentials for interchangeability and inter-portability.

090929-F-8127S-182It is very difficult to conceive a fresh set of exclusive performance specifications. But one can gradually and consciously reformat the traditional specifications with inclusion of performance parameters for standard parts and components.




Postby Gautam Shah 

.Design_Management_in_briefThe Item or Design specifications are very traditional. These are used for execution, manufacturing, fabricating, erecting, for procuring ready-made objects, and also for effecting various services. The term Design here means any scheme, as such orally conveyed, written, drawn, or otherwise implied. Design or scheme specifies constituents, processes of combining, synthesizing a coherent entity or system, method of care and handling the men, materials, machines, and the entity itself as it is being created.

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Primary instinct for a human effort is to create a Recipe or Process. We think or enact the thing we desire, and then project the intentions as: 1 list of physical inputs (ingredients), 2 step by step method (time sequence), 3 list of things to do and not to do (human intervention). A fair mix of first two (aspects) can provide an object, but not a deliverable entity. It is the last aspect that helps create an occasion or situation specific working entity and with definite level of efficiency.

A recipe is a perfect example of a design specification. When a design (recipe) is specified for a product and once readied (with reasonable sincerity), a client has to pay for it, even if it fails on acceptability count. As a result, writing Item or Design Requirements are never advisable, unless the specifiers have had recent experience, at designing a nearly Identical Item, and fully comprehend all aspects of the design problem.

Ishtika_House_Construction Saradas


A Designer prepares the Item or design specifications, (materials, procedures and conditions of origin), so that contractor or vendor can provide the stated item. In this method a contractor or vendor gets no freedom to use alternative materials or execute it differently.

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If there is an uncommon item, the contractor will invariably charge more for the extraordinary effort or customization. This process does not assure that in spite of a sincere execution and diligent supervision a functional product will be delivered. The Item specifications specify ‘physical adequacy of the item while seeking a hypothetical performance’.



Item specification for acquiring a ready-made object by a designer tends to be even more restrictive. The specifications either have to match the standards followed by the Industry or match some ‘super’ supplier’s specifications. Failing either of the conditions, one has to pay the extra cost of customizing a regular or standard item. In the later case the assurance nominally available for the regular or standard item are unlikely to be offered for the altered form.

Everett Designer's_Furniture_Warehouse_interior