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Buying for schools

Department for Education
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2. Write your specification

How to prepare your procurement specification, describing the goods, works or services you need.

A specification should allow suppliers to understand exactly what you need to buy, including the quality and delivery date.

Once you have approval to go ahead with the procurement, you should finalise your specification before you begin the procurement process.

The length of your specification will vary depending on what you’re buying. For example, requirements for stationery are likely to be very short, while requirements for an ICT system are likely to involve a significant amount of technical detail.

A specification should include:

  • a precise description of the goods, works or services you need
  • if appropriate, an explanation of what the goods, works or services should do to meet your needs (sometimes known as an ‘output specification’)
  • the quantity
  • the quality
  • when you want the supplier to deliver it by

As you develop your requirements, we recommend that you:

  • talk to the potential users in your school to find out what they need and how they plan to use it
  • include feedback from any stakeholders who will need to approve the specification (if signing off the specification is part of your school’s procurement process)
  • think carefully about the level of detail you include, so that you don’t incur extra cost by:
    • missing something out
    • including things you don’t need

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