I need to maintain a meticulous spec that contains a lot of legal requirements.

We have more than 200 products (and rapidly growing, about 5 products a month) which are all very similar but have differences.

Currently, we find ourselves starting the spec with the following words: "product Y is like X but differs with A, B, C, D..", "product Z is like Y but differs with E, F, G.."

Each product will eventually have more than 100 differences (out of thousands of requirements).

Which is a convoluted way for the developers to understand what the final outcome should look like.

We also need to follow about 6 different documents to understand the full spec for a single product, since some of the requirements are better visualized in a table rather than text and we prefer to maintain them in something similar to a spreadsheet.

Could it actually be that the best way to maintain it is the way we do now? And when product X changes to go to Y, Z etc.. and update them accordingly?


I would make a Template Spec for the similarities.

Then each product starts by referencing the relevant Template Specs and then noting the diferences.

This way, when you change something system-wide, you don't have to update hundreds of specs.


  • GUI: This product is a variation of A - see the spec for A at ________
  • Other Functionality: This product is a variation of B - see the spec for B at ________
  • Delta from A are:
    • X - see section 2.1 for details about X
    • Y - see section 2.2 for details about Y
  • Delta from B are:
    • Z - see section 2.3 for details about Z

Ty refraining from chaining products; product F is a variation of product G which is a variation of product A.

Once a product is a basis for another product you probabaly want to turn it into a template.

At the very least, have a clear policy how long chain can be - and how many leaves it can have - before it needs to be made in to a Template Spec of its own.

Idea: If you could use Excel to write your specs, you could reference Template Specs in such a way that they appear as text - and then you can chain - and change - at will and all the specs will be updated all the time.

  • 1
    nice approach. is there a tool that maybe manages this? Dec 10 '18 at 21:37
  • @guymograbi - I quick Google search for "product specification template excel" and "excel spec writing" makes me suspect that you could find templates, and possibly tools that do this. Dec 11 '18 at 10:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.