In this blog article I want to discuss the specifications and verification phases of design & development project planning. As I look back at my experiences, I’ve faced a number of situations with tightened time frames where only the execution phase was implemented. Why you may ask? Ultimately, someone had a crazy idea to get the project done faster and cheaper – and we know that this is not possible. It is true that having suggestive planning is always more attractive than a realistic one.
To start with a basic notion of design or manufacturing process, you have three important steps to follow: Specification, Execution and Verification. I condensed voluntarily the field of notions to those three for a question of comprehension, also known as the V-model.
- Specification describes your needs and clearly identifies what you want as an end result. By explaining what you want and your vision, the constraints apply to your demand and everything else you consider necessary to be compliant with.
- Execution brings your previously determined needs to the phase of execution providing a deliverable.
- Verification is where what you have done is compared to what you have specified. To perform this phase successfully it is necessary to have a specification on which you can rely on. Do not muddle verification and validation because those two notions do not have the same connotation. The PMBOK guide (4th edition) is giving the following comprehensive description:
“Validation: The assurance that a product, service, or system meets the needs of the customer and other identified stakeholders. It often involves acceptance and suitability with external customers. Contrast with verification.”
“Verification: The evaluation of whether or not a product, service, or system complies with a regulation, requirement, specification, or imposed condition. It is often an internal process. Contrast with validation.”
In my opinion, the technical success of a project is driven by the way we are controlling results of our work upon our needs. Spending time to define your product is not a loss of time but an investment. By providing your designer a clear understanding of the product specifications they can correctly plan and execute the job and it allows the controller to know what to check for.
If you are in such a situation where you where all these hats, designer, controller, etc., the first reaction is to start the execution based on your idea and then adjust details on the fly. So I find that the importance lies in some pre-planning and that is by simply writing a short description of your requirements and to review and complete them during the execution phase. You will be able to verify your work upon concrete criteria and not only your feeling (closer to a validation that a verification). Moreover, once the specification and verification is written, you will be able to re-use it for your next project (and it might even bring you a new dimension of self-improvement).
The last notion introduced in the previous paragraph is noticeable. By forcing yourself to accomplish the three steps of specification, execution and verification as a project engineer or design engineer you will gain experience and knowledge. You will continue to encounter hurdles but you will know how to overcome them due to what is called lessons learned .
To conclude, a basic V-model structure composed of Specification, Execution and Verification phases along with lessons learned will prevent you to get into an unmanageable situation. Next action will be to repeat again and again those operations because “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”– Aristotle
 A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
 See PMBOK §18.104.22.168