Functional Specifications, you either know what I mean when I say this or you don’t. But fear not, this blog will fill you in on what they are, why they are so important when developing new technologies, and how Sunderland Software City could potentially support you with getting one!

Tech is a phenomenal way to increase efficiency, productivity, revenue, sales, communications… I’ll stop, you get the picture. Entrepreneurs will often have a brilliant idea to innovate their business through new bespoke apps, websites or web platforms, but may fail to capitalise on this due to a lack of in-house knowledge. Or worse, they may feel so overwhelmed by their ideas, they don’t even know where to start.

The answer? A functional (technical) specification.

So, what is a functional specification?

Fundamentally, a functional specification is a document that's been developed collaboratively with a technical expert. 

The specification details the scope of the features and functionalities required by your technical platform. This includes both the features needed to make your tech look pretty and the back-end requirements that are going to make the platform or app work as it should. 

A functional specification is a written document which turns your none-technical approach into something which a developer can pick up, understand and quote on. Think of it as a written blueprint for the ideas in your head with some technical expertise added.

OK, why do I need one? 

1. It's a safety check to ensure you're not just using tech for techs sake

It is incredibly easy to get over excited about tech and new features that don't actually provide any benefit to you or your customer’s experience. A tech spec reins in your ideas and helps you get the best value for money.

2. It helps you understand technical terms

The technical jargon used by developers can be confusing if you do not come from a tech background. This means that your new tech project can spiral away from you, both in terms of knowledge and cost. A tech spec helps you understand what is needed from a developer without having to go into all the technical terms yourself.

3. It can help you with financial planning

When looking for developers, we always suggest you get at least 3 quotes to understand the different options and costs that are available to you. To aid your financial planning, it is essential that these quotes are consistent. To encourage consistency, your developer brief will need to be clear and concise, avoiding potential misunderstandings relating to the work to be undertaken and subsequent costs.

A functional specification helps you ensure consistency in your developer brief, making it more likely that you'll receive a true and genuine quote from each of the developers based on the same functionality. 

4. It could be easier to attract funding

Funding! A tech spec shows investors the serious nature of your idea, helps you apply for external investment, and gives a certain gravitas and professionalism to your funding applications. When paired with genuine quotes, it also adds more validity to your cashflow forecast and shows investors that you have a good understanding of the amount you need to raise.

How can Sunderland Software City help? 

As part of the ERDF programme, our fully-funded support enables us to connect you with a tech expert. They are the bridge between your idea and a developer’s technical approach, guiding you on what is feasible or possible and giving sound, impartial advice.

Together you will create a specification for an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) which, in short, outlines the basic requirements your tech platform would need when starting out. It requires you to be sensible, realistic and think strategically. This is where our tech expert really comes into their own. They will give you an honest assessment and will guide you through the common mistakes and pitfalls to avoid.

Once you agreed on your MVP framework our expert will draft your written technical specification and will work collaboratively to create a document that works for you.

Get in Touch

To learn more about functional specifications or to undertake one, you can email me at