5 tips for drafting sound site selection specifications

6 Apr 2021
Estimated reading time : 6 minutes
5 tips for drafting sound site selection specifications
6 Apr 2021
Estimated reading time : 6 minutes

Site selection specifications are critical to the success of any international business development project.

Done right, they document your needs down to the last detail and paint a clear picture of your ideal site. They also pave the way to good relationships with local partners, because anyone can refer to them to present you with useful options and rule out non-starters. Bottom line: making the effort to develop solid site selection specifications will save time and make your project more efficient in the end.

By contrast, hastily drafted specs can cause your project to bog down—and may even lead you to choose the wrong site, with disastrous consequences for your business.

In this article, we offer 5 tips based on our years of experience helping companies set up new ventures. Follow them to ensure that your site selection specifications are practical and actionable.

Overview

Tip #1: List all your needs, from general to specific
Tip #2: Be clear and concise
Tip #3: Use our model site selection specifications
Tip #4: Draft your specifications with our qualitative decision matrix in hand
Tip #5: Share your specifications with all project partners

 

Tip #1: List all your needs, from general to specific

Your site selection specifications are not for internal use.

They’re a working document that you’ll share with outside partners as you search for the ideal site, so it’s important for them to be clear and easy to read.

To organize your information and make it easy to access, start with your general criteria and then move into the specifics.

Here’s one way to organize your specifications:

  • Overall environment
  • Accessibility
  • Human resources and hiring
  • Real estate strategy
  • Characteristics of the ideal site

Specifications requirements

Introduction: Background and project goals

The background and goals of your business development project are obvious to you, but they won’t always be clear to your local partners.

So when you draft your specifications, be sure to include your “why.”

Your introduction should:

  • Provide a brief description of your business and its values
  • Summarize your international business development strategy
  • Outline your goals for the new site

In the sections that follow, you can list the special needs of your project in detail.

 

⇨ Download our free model site selection specifications

Site-selection criteria

Overall environment

This section should describe the location you need.

Are you looking for:

  • a specific industrial environment
  • an area with little urban development
  • a site near a major city
  • a specific ecosystem

These broad criteria alone will help you eliminate unsuitable regions and narrow the field.

Accessibility

Accessibility is largely a question of logistics.

  • What highways, rail, ports, airports and other infrastructures do you need to:
    • optimize incoming shipments of raw materials and/or semi-finished products
    • ship your finished products out to customers
  • What is the maximum desirable distance between these infrastructures and your new site?

Accessibility is also important for your employer brand. It should be easy for your future employees—and visitors from your company’s head office—to reach the site.

Human resources and hiring

Finding a new site also means finding the right labor pool.

In this section, assess your short- and medium-term human resource needs. This includes:

  • Total workforce
  • Breakdown by job category
  • Special skills
  • Workforce flexibility

Your partners can help you find a site in a region with strong recruitment potential.

Real estate strategy

So far, your site selection specifications have served primarily to reduce the field to a few targeted regions. Now it’s time to refine your search and focus on your specific needs.

Your real estate strategy will get you a little closer to your ideal site.

  • Are you looking for land that you can build on, an existing building, or both?
  • Would you rather buy or rent?
  • When do you want operations to start up?

At this point, you’ll have narrowed your list of potential sites significantly.

Site description

In this final section, you’ll create a detailed list of the features you want at your new site:

  • Size and functional characteristics of the land you need
  • General description (including floor area and dimensions) of the building you need
  • Breakdown of floor area by type of activity
  • Special requirements for industrial operations
  • Parking and delivery facilities
  • Utilities such as water, gas and electricity

Tip #2: Be clear and concise

Your specifications should be accurate and detailed.

The goal is to describe your needs as thoroughly as possible so that you can find your ideal site. This is where well-crafted specs make it easier for local partners to help you.

But don’t go overboard—they need step-by-step instructions, not an encyclopedia.

Make your site selection specifications clear and concise:

  • Organize the information with clear headings and subheadings
  • Use bullet points for each item
  • Get right to the point and avoid long explanations
  • Quantify distances, areas and other size-related characteristics. It’s hard for a local partner to help if you’re looking for “a large building near a large city.” So be specific: How much floor area? How big should the city be? How many kilometers away?

Tip #3: Use our model specifications

Drafting your site selection specifications is a critical step towards your goal.

To help you organize your project step by step—and ensure that you don’t leave anything out—we offer model specifications that you can download right now.

For years, we’ve helped companies grow their business internationally, and we’ve distilled our experience into this practical tool to make it easier for you to draft your own specs.

We know first-hand that incomplete or poorly drafted specifications:

  • Lead to delays and cost overruns
  • Complicate relationships with local partners
  • Increase the risk that you’ll make the wrong choice

We’ve made our model very thorough to ensure that you won’t overlook anything important. Feel free to tailor it to the needs of your business to guide you towards the ideal site.

Tip #4: Draft your specifications with our qualitative decision matrix in hand

You should begin drafting your specifications at a fairly advanced stage of your business development project, right before you contact your local partners in the regions on your shortlist. Their goal is to help you find the ideal site.

At this point, you should already have completed your site selection study. As part of that process, you’ll have identified a number of key financial and qualitative criteria that reduce the broader field to a shortlist of candidate regions.

With the groundwork done, you then describe your expectations for each of these criteria—including qualitative factors—so you can communicate them to your partners. In other words, they should include the topics addressed in your site selection study and provide more detail.

If your qualitative study was methodical, you already have what you need to start drafting your specifications.

If not, check out our exclusive, ready-to-use tool for easy qualitative analysis of the destinations on your list.

Download the qualitative decision matrix

Tip #5: Share your specifications with all project partners

Searching for a new site shouldn’t be a solitary process done in isolation. You’ll be operating in a foreign country with different cultural norms.

To get reliable information on the region and assess candidate destinations, you’ll need local contacts, including:

  • Economic development agencies
  • Real estate consultants
  • Legal advisers and accountants

To support your site selection process, they’ll need a formal document that points them in the right direction. That’s why you need specifications.

That’s also why you need to be transparent about your intentions and your needs. If you don’t provide all relevant information, you’re likely to end up with a site that doesn’t meet your expectations.

At this point, it’s your job to provide as much useful information as possible to all of the players on your team. That means clearly defining the criteria that matter for you—and specifying your timeline for the project.

With this information in hand, your partners will be in a better position to structure their searches and give you the answers you need.

 

Well-crafted site selection specifications are critical to the success of your international business development project. They act as a “contract” between your company and the partners who support your decision-making process.

The data in your specs will guide economic development agencies and other local contacts as they help you find the ideal site.

Want to take a methodical approach to drafting your site selection specifications?

Download our free model below.

Need advice on developing your specification? Want to talk about your plans for a new venture? Contact us!