Definition of Exception
As with many terms associated with Non Conformance, an Exception can mean different things to different people. More on that in green lower down this page.
In our understanding of the term, an exception is raised during the tender phase of the bidding for a contract - before anything has been agreed or built.
Tenderers (potential contractors) raise an exception to the documentation given to them - the ITT - if they:
1 do not understand a requirement or specification, or
2 understand it but question whether they can comply with the requirement, or
3 understand it but question whether they need to comply.
In case 1 the exception may just be a clarification, and have no long-term significance, once resolved.
In case 2 the client and tenderer need to discuss the exception, as to whether there would be a non-conformity; whether that non-conformance could be acceptable; and possibly whether there should be an agreed cost in either ensuring compliance, or in accepting non-compliance. If it is agreed not to comply with the requirement then this should be documented as a formal deviation request to the client, once the contract is signed.
Case 3 is very similar to case 2, but here there is a greater focus on commercial interests. If the tenderer can save a lot of money by avoiding compliance with a requirement, then the client would presumably only agree if the cost savings were shared. This may also have a bearing on the tendering process and whether any agreement should be passed on to other tenderers.
Sometimes a non-conformance is called an exception.
Sometimes exception is used to mean a 'less severe' non conformance.
Sometimes exception is used to mean a planned deviation from a requirement. This is similar to cases 2 and 3 above, where an exception may be resolved as a deviation.