Impact of Specifications Setting on Quality Control

by Nancy W
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It is often said, “garbage in, garbage out”.  This adage is so much alive when it comes to the impact of specifications setting on quality control. The reason specification setting has such immense impact on the quality of your product will be discussed right here, but before that, it is important to have a grasp of what specifications setting is all about.

What is Specifications Setting?

This is completely and clearly stating to the procurement department or the supplier, the attributes of your requirement. The user department communicates its requirement through an internal requisition. It is in the requisition form that the product/service/ works specifications are clearly stated. The procurement department, then incorporates these specifications in the bid document to be issued to the prospective supplier.

Specifications can be done in a number of ways: By use of product description, performance, design, durability, samples, and brand names, among others.

What is the Impact of Specifications Setting on Quality Control?

Specifications are an important determinant of the inputs you receive from your supplier, which in turn inform the quality of your end product. Below are ways in which your specifications influence the quality of your end product.

  1. Specifications Enhance Communication With Suppliers

It is through specifications that you communicate your needs to your supplier. While clear communication will mean you get the right materials, the opposite is true. You only get what you have asked for. This has a direct impact on the quality of your product.

  1. Specifications Facilitate Comparison During the Inspection of Items Received

Specifications will assist you in comparing what has been delivered with what you actually ordered. This way, the inspection team is able to receive the exact item required even in the absence of the user department, therefore, ensuring quality standards are maintained.

  1. Specifications Enhance Consistency.

Once the user sets specifications the first time, the procurement department can use the specifications in subsequent orders, maintaining consistency. The specifications also provide uniformity in the item required at a given time. This means all bidders will be quoting for a similar item, which will result in fair competition. Fair competition means superb quality at competitive prices.

  1. Specifications Help in Resolving Any Likely Disputes.

In case you are in disagreement with the supplier regarding what you ordered, the specifications used in the bid document will assist you to amicably solve the dispute. This is a sure way of maintaining strong relationships with your suppliers; remember the importance of supplier relationships in quality control.

It is irrefutable that specifications have a direct impact on the quality of your final product. What has not been specified cannot be provided, therefore, specifications go a long way in determining your output. The process of specifications setting should, therefore, be treated with the seriousness it deserves. Where necessary, a cross-functional team will help the user department to achieve the desired results with less effort. Such a team could include support functions like sales and marketing, procurement, and IT, among others. This is one area quality circles can deliver fabulous results.

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3 comments

Greg S March 18, 2019 - 2:58 pm

Hi Nancy W,

All great points that Specifications drive the customer/supplier relationship. I have found it is imperative to include the voice of the internal customer in this area. Typically, internal customers retain the Specifications for the sourcing team to offer in a Request for Proposal (RFP).

Internal customers understand their primary business drivers and what they need from suppliers. Factors such as Specifications, safety, quality, schedule and continuity of supply are typical areas of focus. Cost is not naturally in the top five influencing factors of the internal customer/supplier relationship.
Leaving Specifications to the discretion of the supplier will usually lead to conflict which is unproductive.

Reply
Nancy March 19, 2019 - 3:51 pm

Hi Greg.

I agree with you, the internal customer is key in the specifications setting. In this case, the internal customer is the user department. As illustrated in the article, The user department (internal customer) communicates their need through specifications to the procurement department, who in turn use the same in the invitation to bid. At no point should the bidders be left to define the need of the user.

As recommended earlier, you can complement the user with a team from other departments like marketing, production, and procurement, among others, to assist in setting the specifications. The procurement department will advise on factors like materials availability, lead times, and materials prices. The production department can advise on the features of the product, which will assist the user to avoid having unnecessary features which drive production costs up without adding any value. The marketing department, on the other hand, can advise on the current market trend since they have a better understanding of the market for your end product.

Reply
Josiah Griffith May 18, 2020 - 4:04 am

In case you are in disagreement with the supplier regarding what you ordered, the specifications used in the bid document will assist you to amicably solve the dispute. This is a sure way of maintaining strong relationships with your suppliers; remember the importance of supplier relationships in quality control

Reply

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