Equipment Purchases: Create a Specification Package

By Dan Hounsell, Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Managers, Staff Team Up When Purchasing Mowers, Utility VehiclesPt. 2: Grounds Management: Making Cost-Effective Equipment PurchasesPt. 3: This Page

Perhaps the most precarious step in specifying big-ticket equipment is turning over the recommendations to higher-ups where further approval is needed. This phase is riddled with possible problems, from a lack of critical information to possibly confusing recommendations.

Getting the facts right is the first move.

"Accountants understand numbers," McManus says. Among other facts, financial types generally want to know the amount the department would save in repairs by purchasing a new piece of equipment, the number of people it takes to maintain a certain area, and the financial impact a new piece of equipment would have on staffing.

McManus says he creates a short and simple PowerPoint presentation to present crucial information. He says he accompanies his boss into the field in some cases to review a certain area on campus as a way of helping him better understand the challenges crews face in doing their jobs.

Hostick says the specification package should include an explanation of the specific purpose of the equipment, a color brochure of each piece of equipment being requested, and a quote of the local dealer on the full cost, including taxes.

"The key to successfully getting what I need has been to send a package of information to my boss that is clear, concise, and well-organized," he says. "That (package) is very likely the only thing the person ultimately making the decision will see. I might not ever see that person."

In some cases, the simplest of presentations can have the greatest impact.

"A four-color brochure goes a long way," Hostick says. "It's incredibly valuable. That brochure goes a long way in helping make the decision. I learned that the hard way.

"When you're talking about a $10,000 piece of equipment, a black-and-white photocopy of the equipment is of little or no value to them. That surprised me a lot."

Managers experienced in the specification process stress the need for being able to defend the equipment recommendation, and the larger and more expensive the piece of equipment, the stronger that defense likely will need to be.

"You have to do your homework," Fellner says. "The people you report to will ask hard questions, and you want to be able to answer them."

Continue Reading: Grounds Management: Buying Big-Ticket Equipment

Managers, Staff Team Up When Purchasing Mowers, Utility Vehicles

Grounds Management: Making Cost-Effective Equipment Purchases

Equipment Purchases: Create a Specification Package

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  posted on 9/3/2010   Article Use Policy

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