Project inception: A performance brief approach

Jim Smith*, Ray Wyatt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionResearchpeer-review


Clients need a process that can make a valuable contribution to the important strategic and decisive formative stages of a project. As a result, 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 and project managers have been leaders in this process. Pre-design processes and activities are being instituted that work through the client's business case, strategic and organisational issues, identifying and refining the 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 favoured strategy and provide a sound basis for the development of the design.

One approach to these early stages of the project is Strategic Needs Analysis. Strategic Needs Analysis assists in these critical strategic stages in the development of a project. Strategic Needs Analysis workshops ask fundamental questions regarding the present way an organization carries out its activities. A range of solutions or options may be developed, some of which may involve a built solution or the delivery of facilities, new or existing.

The development of a performance brief for a new local authority library is presented. The application involved the development of a new library with community facilities for a local council. The process involved is described with the generation and selection of organizational strategic options using the Strategizer and Situation Structuring software with the council stakeholders. The creation and identification of user performance indicators to guide the design development process is illustrated and a sample of the final performance brief is provided. The project was completed and opened at the end of 2005.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of CRIOCM 2006 International Research Symposium on Advancement of Construction Management and Real Estate, Vols 1 and 2
EditorsZY Zhao, MX Yu, CC Feng, LL Duan
PublisherThe Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)962-367-536-4
Publication statusPublished - 2006
EventInternational Research Symposium on Advancement of Construction Management and Real Estate - Beijing, China
Duration: 3 Nov 20065 Nov 2006


ConferenceInternational Research Symposium on Advancement of Construction Management and Real Estate
Abbreviated titleCRIOCM 2006


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