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System Performance Specification

AETM 035


A description of the system-level requirements, constraints, and interfaces (functional, performance, and design) and the qualification conditions and procedures for their testing and acceptance. The System Performance Specification, initially reviewed at the System Requirements Review (SRR), ultimately becomes part of the functional baseline that is confirmed at the completion of the System Functional review (SFR). The System Performance Specification is sometimes referred to as the System Requirements Specification or System Specification.

Alternate Definition

Specification. A document prepared to support acquisition that describes essential technical requirements for materiel and the criteria for determining whether those requirements are met. Program-unique specification. A specification that describes a system, item, software program, process, or material developed and produced (including repetitive production and spares purchases) for use within a specific program, or as a part of a single system and for which there is judged to be little potential for use by other systems. Performance specification. A specification that states requirements in terms of the required results with criteria for verifying compliance, but without stating the methods for achieving the required results. A performance specification defines the functional requirements for the item, the environment in which it must operate, and interface and interchangeability characteristics. Both defense specifications and program-unique specifications may be designated as a performance specification.

Alternate Definition Source


General Information

The Department of Defense encourages the use of performance specifications for systems acquisition. Using performance specifications can broaden the number of potential suppliers, especially commercial suppliers, since the requirements are not built around specific solutions that only a limited number of suppliers may be able to meet. Having more potential suppliers usually means reduced costs, better product availability and support, a stronger and more reliable industrial base, and fewer obsolescence issues. [SD-15]

The system specification is an output of the Stakeholder Requirements Definition process. During this process, systems engineers work with users to translate the operational requirements, and inputs from other relevant stakeholders, into contractually verifiable technical requirements. The resulting specification is normally included in the request for proposal (RFP), and later in the Section C of the contract.

Specifications contain six sections:

  1. SCOPE: Section 1 is a concise abstract of the coverage of the specification.
  2. APPLICABLE DOCUMENTS: Section 2 lists the documents referenced in sections 3 and 4 of the specification.
  3. REQUIREMENTS: Section 3 defines the requirements that the system must meet to be acceptable. (Bidirectional requirements traceability: Each requirement statement in Section 3 should trace backward to a stakeholder need, and trace forward to a verification requirement in Section 4.)
  4. VERIFICATION: Section 4 includes all inspections needed to verify that the item conforms to the requirements in section 3 of the specification. This verification may be accomplished by analysis, demonstration, examination, testing, or any combination thereof.
  6. NOTES


At the completion of a successful System Functional Review (SFR), the system specification is approved for use as the Functional Baseline of the system.

Stakeholder Requirements

The system specification is a translation of stakeholder requirements into a contractually verifiable form. A stakeholder is an individual or group that can be positively or negatively impacted by the program and can positively or negatively influence program outcomes. [Systems Engineering Guidebook, Section 2.3.2 Stakeholders]
While most requirements are traceable to user-stakeholders, there are other stakeholders who have requirements based on statute, regulation, Service, Center, platform, or domain. The Systems Engineering Plan should include a table of design considerations that are critical to the program and are an integral part of the design process, including trade-off analyses. [Systems Engineering Guidebook, Section 5. Design Considerations]