A great deal of international research has been focussed on the client briefing stage of projects and facilities. The authors have studied this research and propose a method of advising clients at the strategic or pre‐design stage. This approach is termed strategic needs analysis. This technique analyses and reviews client objectives, proposes alternatives and confronts participants with making choices. A case study based on testing the technique in Melbourne, Australia, is presented. Management briefings, participant selection, interactive workshops, and the use of neural network‐based software forms part of the structure for strategic decision making. Facilities managers can provide vital information to this process and inform decision making at this critical stage. The role of the construction disciplines in this process is discussed and the new skills required by this profession are presented.