Specifications are an important part of any project. They lay out the requirements for what needs to be delivered, and they provide a roadmap for the project team. But how do you go about writing specifications?
If you don’t specify what the project is all about, there’s always a risk that things will go sideways, and scope creep will eventually find its way in. Whether you’re working on launching a website or a digital project, laying out the specifications for the project is critically important.
In this guide, we are going to discuss all the details about writing project specifications and provide a template for a project specification document that you can use. Let’s go!
What is a Project Specification Document?
A project specification document (PSD) is a living document that outlines the scope of a project. It includes the project’s objectives, deliverables, timeline, and budget. The project specification document is created during the planning phase of a project and is reviewed and updated throughout the project’s lifecycle.
A well-written project specification document is essential to the success of a project. It ensures that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of the project’s objectives and deliverables.
It also allows for better management of the project’s timeline and budget. Without a clear and concise project specification document, it is difficult to track progress and ensure that the project stays on track.
How to Write Project Specifications
The PSD acts as a blueprint for the project, providing information on what the objectives of the project are, what needs to be delivered, who will be involved, and how much budget has been allocated.
Here are a few tips for how to create a solid project specification document.
Define the scope of the project
The first step in creating a PSD is to define the scope of the project. This means outlining what the project aims to achieve and what deliverables are expected. It is important to be as specific as possible at this stage so that there is no confusion later on down the line.
Once the scope has been finalized, it should be approved by all stakeholders before work on the project begins.
Identify the stakeholders
Who will be using the end product? Who will be affected by the project? These are the stakeholders. It’s important to identify them early on so that you can tailor the specifications to their needs.
Gather input from all stakeholders
Once you’ve identified the stakeholders, it’s time to gather input from them. This can be done through interviews, surveys, or focus groups.
The goal is to get a clear understanding of their needs and expectations for the project.
Create a timeline for the project
After the scope has been approved, it’s time to start creating a timeline for the project. This will involve mapping out all of the tasks that need to be completed and assigning them deadlines.
It is important to be realistic when creating the timeline so that there is no pressure on team members to meet unrealistic goals. Once the timeline has been created, it should be reviewed and approved by all stakeholders.
Assign roles and responsibilities
Now that you have a clear picture of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by, it’s time to start assigning roles and responsibilities.
This includes deciding who will be responsible for each task and making sure that everyone understands their role in the project.
It is important to ensure that there is enough overlap between team members so that no one feels like they are being overloaded with work.
Once roles and responsibilities have been assigned, they should be reviewed and approved by all stakeholders.
Define a communication plan
Communication is key to any successful project, so it’s important to set up a communication plan at this stage.
This involves deciding how team members will communicate with each other, and with stakeholders, during the course of the project.
It is important to make sure that everyone understands how they can raise any concerns they may have about the project.
Once the communication plan has been put in place, it should be reviewed and approved by all stakeholders.
Draft a preliminary version of the specifications
Now it’s time to start drafting your specifications. Begin by creating a skeleton outline of what needs to be included. Don’t worry about getting everything perfect at this stage; just get your thoughts down on paper (or in a digital document).
Add a deliverables section
The deliverables section lists all of the end products that will be delivered as part of this project. These could be anything from reports and presentations to software applications or websites.
For each deliverable, include a brief description, as well as information about who will be responsible for creating it and when it will be due. This helps to ensure that everyone knows what needs to be done – and the deadline.
Define the project budget
The budget section outlines all of the costs associated with completing the project. This might include things like labor costs, materials costs, or marketing expenses.
Be sure to include both fixed costs (those that won’t change regardless of how long it takes to complete the project) and variable costs (i.e., those that will fluctuate based on how long it takes to complete the work).
Doing so will give you a more accurate picture of how much money needs to be allotted for this particular undertaking.
Get feedback on the draft specification from all stakeholders
Show your draft specification to all stakeholders and solicit their feedback. What do they like? What don’t they like? What’s missing? Use this feedback to improve your specification before finalizing it.
Finalize the specifications after getting approvals
Once you’ve incorporated all of the feedback, you’re ready to finalize your specification document!
Make sure to get approval from all stakeholders before moving forward with the project; this will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and avoid surprises down the road.
Make sure all stakeholders understand the specifications
The final step is to make sure that everyone involved in executing the project understands and agrees to follow the specification document.
This includes not only those within your organization but also any external partners or contractors working on the project.
Revise and review regularly
One of the most important things to remember about a PSD is that it is not set in stone – it should be reviewed and revised regularly as needed throughout the course of the project.
Things will inevitably change as a project progresses, so it’s important to make sure that your PSD evolves along with it.
By regularly reviewing and revising your PSD, you can help ensure that your project stays on track and meets its objectives successfully.
Project Specifications Document Template
Here’s a free template for project specifications that you can use:
Project Title: [add title here]
Project Date: [add project starting date here]
Project Manager (s): [add project manager(s) here]
Key members: [add names of key people here]
- Add the scope of the project.
- You can also add the quality assurance (QA) plan here, as it falls within the scope of the project.
- Add a summary of the entire project
- Define any key steps required to kick off the project
- Who is your end user? Define your key personas for the project.
- Outline the key deliverables, including responsible individuals for each.
- Define the deadlines for each milestone/deliverable.
- You can prepare a log of all risks or issues faced by stakeholders throughout the project.
- You can add the total budget for the project and then add the expenditure, including net burn, as the project progresses.
- Identify key individuals, add their contact details, including their responsibilities.
Key Takeaways (Optional)
- If you prefer, you can also use this section to outline any important lessons learned throughout the project.
A Project Specifications Document Improves Project Performance
A well-written specification document is essential for any successful project. By taking the time to outline the purpose, goals, deliverables, and requirements for your project, you can ensure that everyone involved knows exactly what needs to be done in order for the project to be successful.
One of the key aspects of successful project management is communication. If you have a solid communication strategy within your teams, between teams, and with clients, then everything else becomes much easier to handle.
With Atarim, your teams and clients can communicate visually and easily, with comments attached directly to web pages that need work and those comments automatically generating tasks.
If you’re interested in learning more about writing project specifications and management, this paper on Initiating a Project is an excellent read.