Define Scope and Deliverables

Deliverables, milestones or outputs expected from the contractor should be emphasized in the terms of reference. The defined scope and deliverables for the opportunity are critical to planning and increase the likelihood of success in the procurement process overall.

Note that some ministries have their own approved processes and/or templates related to defining scope and deliverables; refer to the ministry links found on the Plan webpage or contact the ministry's Procurement Specialist.

Well defined deliverables and time frames enable vendors to prepare effective proposals. Prescribing methodologies should be avoided wherever possible, in order to avoid constraining the vendors' abilities to propose innovative solutions that may meet the ministry's objectives more effectively or efficiently. 

Following is information that may be helpful when defining the scope and deliverables for contracts.  If having difficulties with a particular contract, contact the ministry’s Procurement Specialist for assistance.


Terms of Reference

The terms of reference should state the expected inputs or resources required to produce the deliverables.  In addition, it should be clear which of the inputs the ministry will provide and which inputs the contractor will provide.

Inputs and Deliverables

The types of inputs the ministry might provide include:

  • Funding;
  • Access to ministry subject matter experts, documents, files, systems, facilities; and
  • Materials and equipment.

Most contracts go beyond specifying deliverables and include inputs such as minimum qualifications of contractor staff, the type of equipment and supplies to be used, etc.  These inputs are usually specified by the contractor, as either part of the solicitation process or during negotiations for a direct award, where applicable; however, some situations justify the Province determining the resource specifications in the terms of reference when planning for a contract, such as, for example, in the following situations:

  1. Service considerations:  The nature of the service requires personnel to have certain qualifications, use certain equipment, carry out the work at a particular time of day, etc.
  2. Unclear deliverables:  It is difficult to specify the nature or quality of the deliverables, as in the case of a professional consultant - hours of professional time may be specified instead. (Note that deliverables for a consultant could also be attendance at meetings, reports, presentations, etc.)
  3. Unpredictable deliverables:  In the case of an as and when required contract, for example, no one knows specifically when the services will be needed or how much might be required.
  4. Vendor unwillingness to bid on deliverables:  Vendors ability to bid a price for their services is dependent, in large part, on how much control they have in achieving the expected deliverables.  For example, in the case of a training program contract, vendors might not want to be paid for the number of participants graduating the full program, as this is not directly within their control in the same way as the number of participants trained.
  5. Lower Cost:  Where the job is small and the uncertainties associated with deliverables are high, vendors may include higher contingency funds in their bids to ensure a profit; in such cases it may be advisable to specify inputs instead of deliverables.


Developing Deliverable Specifications

Four criteria are suggested for developing deliverable specifications:

  1. Completeness:  Deliverable specifications should include all significant aspects of the work.  If key tasks are omitted, problems may occur after the contract is signed, as the contractor may not be aware of the full scope expected.  Resolving these problems may be costly to the ministry.
  2. Clarity:  Deliverable specifications should be unambiguous.  Every key word, term and acronym should be explained or defined.  Specifications should be as straightforward as possible.  They should be written by technical experts, if applicable, and reviewed by the ministry's contract manager for possible ambiguity.  Avoid jargon that may only be well known within government. 
  3. Measurability:  Deliverable measures should allow the ministry's contract manager to easily determine whether or not the contract has been fulfilled.  Objective measures may be hard to find, but are necessary to determining that both the quantity and quality of deliverables have met the contract requirements.  Wherever possible, procedures should be built into the contract monitoring process to verify information reported by the contractor and to develop independent measures of the deliverables.
  4. Focus:  Deliverable specifications should be focused on, and not in conflict with, the mission of the ministry (division or branch), and the desired outcomes of the project.  The applicable mission or outcomes should inform part of the specifications and should be clearly identified in the solicitation (i.e. how the specifications or terms of reference are expected to meet the outcomes identified).  This may not be a straightforward task as the best way to achieve these organizational missions or outcomes is often not known.  The ministry should seek to link the two as much as possible.


Contract Management

The scheduling of activities to meet the deadlines which are specified in the contract is normally the sole responsibility of the contractor.  Ministry contract managers are cautioned against dictating a contractor’s daily schedule due to the implications of Employer/Employee Relationships.  Refer to Standards of Conduct & Relationships with Contractors for more information.

The ministry's contract manager should identify how the progress of the work will be measured. If the service is such that logical phases and corresponding completion points can be identified, then critical performance milestones can and should be defined. Critical milestones that include measurable deliverables facilitate payment to contractors on the basis of results.


Quality Control

Ministries can specify the quality expected for both deliverables and inputs.  For longer term contracts, attempt to define quantity and quality measures that can be tracked and reported by the contractor and verified by the ministry.

The quantity of work or services is typically measured by the number of units of work produced or the number of times a service is performed, while the quality of work or service is measured by the degree of excellence with which the work or services is performed.

Specifying quality is one of the most difficult conceptual problems in the entire procurement process.  As with specifications of quantity, minimal quality should be described completely, clearly and with focus.  If specifications of deliverable quality are understated, this may lead to unhappiness by users or the public, which in turn may lead to disputes between the ministry and the contractor.  On the other hand, having specifications for resource quality that are overstated (i.e. more than it needs to be) may restrict vendor innovation and raise the cost of the contract.