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Understanding the benefits of datasheets in 2020

Different methods can be used to establish technical specifications for products, which allows engineers and technical writers to classify them based on descriptiveness, performance and functionality. Datasheets have proven to be extremely valuable for outlining these specifications.

As the name suggests, datasheets contain lots of data on the product in question. Good datasheets are highly descriptive and detail the appearance and characteristics of the good or service. Descriptive specifications in a datasheet deal with aspects of the good or service that can be accurately measured and therefore include all kinds of data that both laymen and technical experts can understand.

In any case, if you want to establish datasheets with descriptive specifications, it is important to analyze all the aspects of the product and quantify them as much as possible. You will need to then translate them into a particular technical specification for each of these valuable aspects.

Octopart.com has shared some important principles, which should be evaluated carefully.

Functional Specifications For Datasheets In Terms Of Performance:

A more modern method of establishing specifications for datasheets involves using specifications based on “functional requirements” or “in terms of performance”. The goal is to identify goods or services that are not perfect substitutes of each other but have similar enough functionality or performance to compete with each other. In such cases, the focus is not so much that the good or service has certain predetermined characteristics, but rather that it meets a certain functionality or performance.

However, functional and performance specifications may be very useful for promoting competition. They are also ideal for making the general public aware of innovative goods or services. Adding these specifications to datasheets can also streamline the development of more innovative goods or services. However, caution should be used when setting such specifications, because you need to make sure these products are designed safely.

The concerns of establishing guidelines based on specifications that are too general are obvious. If a specification is set based exclusively on a certain functionality, many goods or services may seem to fulfil the basic functionality at first glance. But in reality, they are not all able to adequately satisfy the specified needs.  There may also be reasons that one solution might be more suitable than another. It can be hard to communicate these nuances in a poorly written datasheet.

This means that it is important to establish very clear technical specifications that emphasize both the performance specifications and functional requirements that they entail. You need to highlight the procurement procedure. It is recommended that such specifications will only be used in cases where various goods can be substituted for each other. You need to understand the need to conduct more market research if those guidelines are not clear. This research should be carried out by reaching out to target customers. You should understand the shortcomings of previous goods and services, so you can take adequate steps to rectify those failings. This is typically the case in markets such as software and information technology.

Using functional and performance specifications is also advisable, especially in the case of prototype procurement, as well as in markets where innovation is highly encouraged. It is also advisable to use them for services related to public works, integral projects and contacts governed by the LOPSRM in which the condition of a fixed price is agreed upon. However, it is up to the contractor to provide solutions that satisfy the functionalities or performance expected by the unit or entity.

Methodology for the preparation of Datasheets

In international practice, the following are indicated as good practices

  • Specifications should be established to encourage, not discourage, competition.
  • Specifications should outline the essential characteristics of the goods to be purchased. If an essential requirement is left out of the specification, the failure may be in favor of a good that does not meet the buyer’s needs. These situations invariably lead to customer dissatisfaction and will be a waste of taxpayers’ money. If such an omission is discovered promptly, the project can be cancelled, the specifications can be corrected and a new procurement procedure can be carried out.
  • Setting unnecessary specifications can result in overly restrictive specifications that can impede competition and increase the cost of the good.

Datasheets can be very important for outlining specifications

There are a number of great reasons to use datasheets. The biggest benefit is that they can help outline performance specifications in new goods and services. However, it is important to understand the best conventions to get the most benefit from them.

Photograph by Markus Spiske