An approach to developing a performance brief at the project inception stage

Jim Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The project inception stage has been the focus of intense research activity in design, project management and facilities management for a number of years. The need to establish the project parameters and performance requirements has been an imperative in many organizations, and facilities managers have been leaders in this process. Pre-design processes and activities are being instituted that work through the client's strategic and organizational issues, needs and requirements before the design team is involved. The participation of stakeholders in pre-design workshops is a common feature of these project inception approaches. These approaches prepare a clear and workable statement of the project requirements in performance terms that the client and user groups have committed themselves to. This strategic brief (or definition of the business case of the organization) can then provide a sound basis for the documentation of the needs and the development of the design. One approach to these early stages of the project is strategic needs analysis.

This study describes the use of strategic needs analysis in a community library project where stakeholders from the client organization were involved in workshops to discuss, propose and identify strategic options for the library. Two computer programs assisted in this application—Situation Structuring and Strategizer. In the former, a problem-structuring approach was used to categorize performance indicators that were grouped into the final set of options. Strategizer is a dedicated interactive decision-making program that assists individual stakeholders in ranking the chosen options. The identification of performance indicators established by the stakeholders during the strategic needs analysis is an important part of the project inception process and these performance indicators formed the basis of the final performance brief, part of which is illustrated in this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
JournalArchitectural Engineering and Design Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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