Plan de conception. Descriptions techniques.
By Nicolas Veslin

(4 minutes)

NV • To buy well, you have to be able to compare offers. It’s a common sense principle. And it remains true in the context of a deployment of signs, POP signs or signage.

But for you who are project manager or buyer, what does it mean to buy well?

Buying well means buying technically the product or service that meets your needs, at the best price. And for this, you must communicate to the companies responding to your call for tenders, a precise functional and technical description of your need. Accompanied by a structured response framework, it gives confidence to bidders and compares coherent economic offers.

“I understand, but I’m an insurer, a toy seller, an airport manager; how can I write these technical specifications when it’s not my job? ” 

Answers …


The steps :

  • Analyse the needs
  • Research technical solutions and materials
  • Write technical specifications

NV • As we said, technically describing your need makes you receive comparable technical and economic offers. It also gives confidence to the bidders. On the other hand when there are uncertainties, the sellers consciously or unconsciously take a safety factor in their economic offer. They thus anticipate delays or modifications during design which are costly and sometimes difficult to bill. This creates tensions in the working relationship between the provider and his client.

If you do not have all the internal skills, delegate the design of your objects to a specialized Design Office (DO). The DO is impartial and works with the sole objective of satisfying your need. The DO supports you in the technical definition of products, based on the design produced by the communications agency, the designer or the space designer.

Graphic design is a real engine for technology, which must innovate and find solutions. The changes of the graphic design of the objects are sometimes imposed by technical, economic, ergonomic or political choices. The cartesian spirit of the Design Office, its engineering tools and its objectivity are adapted to these situations and guide you in these choices.

Analyse the needs

The work of the Design Office (DO) begins when the designer’s work is finished and he has produced the Design Book.

This Design Book presents the whole range of objects, signs or signage, which will be available at points of sale, colors, renderings, rules of application, prohibitions. It describes signs, banners, totems, street signs, poster holders, displays, kakemonos, flag signs, box letters, dynamic signage, …

To properly define its needs, the DO carries out a functional description of the product and characterizes each function by criteria, levels and flexibility. It may for example be a level of luminance requested as well as the tolerance accepted or even the time for holding the colors with a tolerance given on a color chart.

NV • The Function Analysis is the main tool to carry out this description of the needs. The result of this analysis is the Functional Specifications. The idea is to focus on functions as a working base before working on technical solutions.

Research technical solutions and materials

The DO then carries out an initial search for solutions and the first principle plans in 2D and 3D.

To validate technical solutions and materials, the DO makes prototypes or models (real or virtual, in augmented reality) as well as sample boards. 1:1 scale prototypes are installed in real situations.

The DO and the Project Management validate the prototypes, models and materials.

NV • The DO can go further. Indeed, to increase the value of your products, you can decide to deploy a Design To Cost (DTC) methodology and / or do Eco-design.

We cover the subject of DTC in an article called Design to Cost. Why ? For who? How? ‘Or’ What? By who ?

Eco-design is a desire to integrate the environmental impacts of products from their conception. During this phase of research of solutions and materials, the use of software makes it possible to compare different product evolutions by assessing their ecological impact. You will find all the information in the article The eco-design of signs, POP signs and signage objects.

Eco-design and Design To Cost are services provided by IMEI.

The validation of materials is often carried out with the graphic designer since he has defined the desired renderings. Validation of color renditions by day and by night when it comes to light objects is important and difficult. You will often have to compromise between day color, night color and reference color of your image. Remember that the same color reference cannot have the same rendering on paper, on a computer screen, on vinyl lit by the sun or on PMMA diffusing an artificial light.

I recommend my clients to form a small validation committee because there are often as many opinions as there are participants in these validation sessions! This validation committee must have the decision-making power.

Finally, the validation of technical solutions is easier if you have made a Functional Specifications (FS). Indeed, the functions are characterized by criteria and levels to be reached. Validation is therefore much more objective. Remember to fully integrate all the valued consumers of the object in the realization of the FS; that is to say all those who will benefit from a good conception of the object. The end user of course, but also the transporter, installer, maintainer, recycling company, or even the sales department that uses your object to “sell” user-friendliness, ambience or products. It’s the best way to make the right choices.

Write technical specifications

The technical parts are generally grouped in the CCTP (Cahier des Clauses Techniques Particulières) of the call for tenders for a french market. These pieces are grouped together in a Technical Book.

It contains :

  • the Design Book or Graphic Book
  • the Functional Specifications
  • principle plans detailing the shapes and dimensions of the objects, in 2D and 3D
  • preliminary calculation notes
  • the maintenance and care guide
  • material sheets

These documents can be produced on different software and therefore have different computer formats. The FS, written in a text editor, can return certain documents as appendices. Obviously do not forget to list these appendices. The documents sent to bidders are saved in a universal format like PDF for easy reading by all.

These technical documents from the FS complement the administrative, organizational and commercial documents of the call for tenders. The article How to organize a Call for Tenders Signs or POS and choose its providers? describes these parts and answers this question.

NV • Signs, fixed or digital signage, POP signs and equipment for a concept are among the vectors of the Brand Identity of a network. Consequently, the perceived quality of these objects must be in line with the commercial positioning of the company, whether it is low-cost or luxury. So define the desired quality level well and be aware that it directly affects the purchase price of the items. So it should be consistent with your budget and the products or services you sell.

The precise technical specifications, defined by the DO, frame this graphic design and the rigorous design transforms the intention of the graphic design into physical reality. It is therefore very important to give very detailed information to the bidders so as not to deviate from the initial vision, to keep control of your project and to buy well.

To go further

IMEI supports you in the design of your signage objects and the definition of your technical specifications.

And if you want a methodological approach to rationalize costs and reduce the environmental impact of your products, IMEI brings you its skills in Design To Cost and Eco-Design, two concepts that can very well be combined.

For this, contact us on +33 (0)2 40 53 96 13 or by email at


The articles published on are extracts from L’Université IMEI’s internal training modules, the aim of which is to share knowledge, values, know-how and methods with IMEI employees.

Writer :

Nicolas VESLIN
Specialist in concept deployments since 2003

Contact us

*required fields

I accept the privacy policy of the IMEI Consulting website*

© IMEI CONSULTING 2020 – confidentiality policyCGUlegal noticescookies