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Hints and Tips on developing a 'Specification Document'

Why create a specification document?

If you are looking for a new IT solution, we encourage you to develop a specification. Even if it is only a brief document.

Our experience in implementing software solutions shows…

1. Project time savings accrue from a specification in the following areas:

  • Less time is spent managing the project.

  • Less time is spent on clarification.

  • Less time is spent on testing.

  • Less time is spent on training and documentation.

  • Less time is spent debating feature creep.

2. Saving money with specifications:

  • Prioritising features.

  • Precise budgeting and contracting.

  • Timely Delivery.

It is also important to consider what features (or modules) do you want in which phase.

Often from our initial discussions, there is a wide price range of the type of solution we might propose (for example, depending on your needs it could be between $5,000 to $50,000). This is why a specification is important, it will allow us (and other software service providers) to provide you with a proposal matching your requirements.

Specification Contents

Different specifications will have different layouts, depending on the responsible personnel and the needs of each project.

There are two types of specification documents:

  • A functional specification describes how a product will work entirely from the user's perspective. It doesn't care how the thing is implemented. It talks about features. It specifies screens, menus and so on.

  • A technical specification describes the internal implementation of the program. It talks about data structures, relational database models, choice of programming languages and tools, algorithms, etc.

We suggest you develop a functional specification. The specification document can then be used as shopping list when looking for a solution.

If you are interested in Cadzow assisting in the development of a specification, please call us.

Simple specification guide

Consider the following questions:

  • Who to involve in this process?

  • Explain background of the organisation

  • Current IT infrastructure

  • What does integrated business management system mean to you?

  • Likes/Dislikes with current system

  • Additional needs with new system

  • Discuss business processes

  • Describe the project’s phases

  • Consider what budget you are prepared to spend (money and staff time etc). This figure WILL dictate how featured the solution is (and what it can afford to include).

  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: Make a list of features the solution needs to address. Mark each item as either "Must Have" or "Would Like".

Need assistance?

This is an article we wrote for clients who want to write the document themselves.

However when we visit we use this and a longer version as a guide. Using our business and IT experience, we often then ask many non scripted questions. It's often amazing how much information can be gathered in a short session. Our questions tend to be a starting point to get the client involved in information sharing, then they bring up many other facts. We can also give the client a guide to which of their wishes are expensive and question if they are really needed etc.

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