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Chapter 8 - Describing the Need - Specifications and Requirements

8.5 Performance specifications

Performance specifications (or functional specifications) are more widely used and more flexible than design or standard specifications. Performance specifications describe the needed or desired capabilities of the product, solution, services and/or supplier, or performance requirements for deliverables. Performance specifications provide a description and purpose of the IT product or service needed but only include minimal functional specifications, usually including only those functions which correlate specifically with identified agency or Commonwealth business needs. Performance specifications should be compatible with existing equipment and should contain a description of the existing equipment along with any upgrade requirements or future needs.

Performance specifications identify the requirements of the IT product or solution needed in terms of capacity, function and operation. These specifications should state what the needed product or solution is to do without setting out specific technical detail. Performance specifications can include requirements for output, capacity, dimensional limitations, maneuverability, degree of tolerance or accuracy and other needs. Usually, performance specifications do not describe the best available item on the market but describe exactly what the agency needs to meet its business objectives. If the performance specifications are restrictive, the solicitation should be specific as to why the restrictive requirements are necessary for the particular business need. If maintenance is a requirement, the specifications should include what maintenance arrangement would be most acceptable to the agency for the items being purchased.

Performance specifications throw the responsibility for a satisfactory IT product, solution or service back to the supplier. Because performance specifications are results- and use- oriented, the supplier is left with the decision of which product, solution and/or service would be most suitable for the agency's needs.

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