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Purchasing Tips

Since the goal of purchasing professional is to obtain quality products and services at the best price and within the parameters of applicable laws, rules, and regulations, adequate specifications are required. Adequate specifications streamline the procurement process, while poor specifications cause unnecessary delay and may result in an inappropriate purchase.

Offered for your use are some tips for preparing specifications that will result in a purchase that meets your needs:*

When developing specifications from brochure sources, select the most important features required for your needs. Leave out any brochure language that cannot be objectively evaluated.

When requisitioning technical equipment, the specifications are to contain enough detail to differentiate the level of quality or performance required.

When sizes or measurements are part of your specifications for an item, indicate maximums or minimums or approximates. If the item must fit into a given space, indicate the available space.

When weight is an important factor, indicate the acceptable range or minimum or maximum acceptable weight.

Delivery, warranty, or training requirements are to be clearly defined.

When compatibility with an existing piece of equipment is a factor, describe the equipment, connectors, interfaces, and brand and model of the existing equipment.

When award on an all-or-none basis is to be made either by group of components or on the total order, this must be stated in the specification with a brief explanation for the reason for this requirement.

Specifications are to clearly state packaging requirements, size, types of finishes, etc.

Verify that models are still available before submitting specifications. Valuable time is often lost by requesting models that have been discontinued.

When installation is required, provide details on what is expected of the contractor. If a site visit is required, indicate a contact name and telephone number.

When maintenance is requested, define the extent of service, parts, labor, travel, service hours required, number of preventative maintenance inspections, and any other inclusions or exclusions.

When the specifications include options, it is important to point out in the specifications that prices for those options are to be included in the vendor's bid price.

When upgrade capabilities are requested, clearly state if these are desired at the time of purchase or in the future.

When the specifications state the desired brand and model number, invite competitive brands by indication "or equal."

Avoid using restrictive language such as "vendor must be located within a 20 mile radius of Baton Rouge." Request a reasonable response time instead.

Be careful with the use of the following words: "should" means it is a desired feature, but is not mandatory. "must" means it is mandatory. "and" means it must have both, or multiples. "or" means either is acceptable.

*Taken from Louisiana Purchasing News, March 1997.
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