Specifications translate designs into descriptions that include materials, components, work and constraints following from regulations. Specifications, part of the Tender Documents, are also legally binding contracts between Clients and Contractors. Therefore, one way or the other, Specifications will be with us for many decades to come, if not forever. But that does not mean that the traditional paper-based form will remain unchanged. The obvious electronic versions of `dumb' paper-based Specifications are already used in the market. Their introduction did not result in much change, but what will happen if `smart' electronic Specifications enter the scene?
The major drawback of Specifications is their rigidity. Clients have to define their requirements in Specifications, but requirements change once the project gets started. Clients see and learn unexpected new possibilities and the desire to change the Specification is quite common. In the traditional Specification-based process, changes in the Specification are costly, and even more or less prohibited. If new BC processes can be devised that increase the flexibility of the Specification, more satisfied Clients will result.
One way to fulfill that desire is to create dynamic Specifications. If controlled by agreed rules, computers can handle the consequences in responsibilities, costs and rewards.
A new-style Specification and its creator (a smart specification application) has a more central place than paper-based Specifications. A paper-based Specification derives its central place from the legal and contractual weight accorded to it. A bcoWeb Specification has, probably, the same legal and contractual weight, but is in addition a valuable source of well-accessible information.
The NG Internet provides the means for the Specification of the future to keep its position as a central document in BC, enabled by the much improved information structuring, information linking and knowledge providing possibilities of NG Internet. Such a semantically rich eSpecification both enables and needs juridical and social changes in BC.Reinout van Rees 2006-12-13