By: Jim O’Brien
When I was just starting my career, to make the point about the importance of contract specifications, my legal mentor advised that the best contract for a home builder was one line “I will build you a house.” He went on to describe to me all the advantages to a builder where there were no or inadequately described design elements, features, upgrades and personal choices and the risk to the buyer when the house is delivered meeting the contract requirements but falling short of the buyer’s expectations.
These words of wisdom are equally applicable to technology development and acquisition, product or service, and purchasers are wise to heed the dangers of simplicity in detail and specification.
Technology businesses engaged in the development or acquisition of technology products or services are generally well served by the establishment of a specification template for its use in its procurement process. It is neither efficient to recreate the wheel for each need nor advisable to utilize a supplier’s format when developing or acquiring a product or service.
While considered sometimes unduly burdensome by those who are anxious to move the procurement process along, the establishment and agreement to a detailed specification can avoid many problems with a supplier including disputes over the capability and function of a product, operating environment concerns, meeting regulatory requirements and minimum criteria for product acceptance. The implementation of a well-defined specification for use in product and service acquisitions provides a clear basis for acceptance, warranty and service level provisions and is key for purchasers in protecting against an acquisition that results in a house with no windows.
In memory of J. Doyle Tumbleson (1945-2014).