Writing the Specification

Up to this point there has been no mention of how you begin to write a specification, or even the basic organization thereof. Since most user companies have established formats, the foregoing comments are intended to be general enough to fit an existing format. For equipment covered by an API standard, the past practice has been to write an "overlay" specification to supplement the API document. These added specifications address the exceptions the specification writer wishes to take to the API document and also allows him to select options and provide the site specific as well as environmental information called for in the API document. There has been an industry trend to minimize the "overlay" specifications and to use the API document without exception. Because of user input, later revisions of the API documents attempt to address this desire of the industry. User information is placed on data sheets, making it more convenient to select options and provide user data. For non API compressors, the procedures outlined here are still applicable. While not as great a task, the options selections for API-based specification can also benefit.

Another useful approach is to attempt to get a broad review of the specification draft by operations, maintenance, and engineering. The specification must have an author who can write the basic document and who later edits the draft into the scope and language of the final specification. Single authorship, with committee review, is preferred over committee authorship. Only in rare instances is vendor participation in the specification authorship really justified, except in partnership relationships.

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