“What’s Your Spec?” – 8 Tips for Writing a Product Spec Doc

Product development can be tricky. As we’ve mentioned previously, you need to be very clear on your product requirements before you start dealing with a factory. Ideally you should have a well defined specifications guideline document (spec doc) in place. The 8 points below will give you an outline of what you can expect to be asked for so you can plan in advance.

This is by no means a list you should stick to verbatim – every project is different – but it will help to frame the development process at an early stage, and save you time when you get to making that all important first sample.

1. Prototypes

Product prototypes/parts made locally using your intended materials and set up in a way that a manufacturer or development expert can understand how to take that to a mass production level.

2. Get technical

Technical drawings with notes about how the product should be assembled or how it should look. If your product requires any molding then provide all necessary schematics and specifications so that mold fees can be approximated.

3. CAD images of a final product

This isn’t always possible and can be expensive to arrange in your own country, but at the least a factory will need clear measurements for the each part of the product.

4. Examples

If there are existing or similar products on the market, provide photos or links to these. This will help narrow the focus for the factory or development expert.

5. Material or colour swatches

This may seem unnecessary, but it’s risky to except a factory to meet your material and colour requirements without clear guidelines. If you don’t have swatches that exactly match what you want, try find a suitable material on another product and suggest a Pantone reference for the colour. Here’s a handy tool for picking approximate Pantones.

6. Packaging concepts or artwork

How will your product be packaged? Cardboard box? Blister pack? PVC box? How many colours is your design? Your chosen packaging will affect the end unit price and may incur additional sample charges – it’s best to have a clear idea of preferred packaging early in the process.

7. The fine print

Any legal issues or legal warnings that the product needs to be labelled for, or that the factory needs to be aware of before making a sample. This may require additional research or conversations with a trading standards official in your own country.

8. Company/product logos

If your product will require any form of branding (such as an embossed or printed logo), you will probably be asked to provide this information early in the process as this will affect manufacturing costs. Most likely you’ll be asked to provide these in a vectored design format such as AI or PDF.

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