The Briefing Process - RIBA Journal, March 2007
One of the issues that has preoccupied me since my student days is how briefing takes place in the construction industry.
Ail world-class industries concentrate on satisfying their customers. To do this they ensure that they understand their customers‘ interests and needs. Clients‘ briefing in the construction industry should therefore be a process of defining the specific business demands that building professionals must meet: not just the building needs.
As architects tend to concentrate too narrowly on construction issues. and the early stages of briefing are left to accountants and management consultants. we miss key opportunities to help clients‘ businesses. Consequently the full potential that we could contribute to our clients‘ businesses tends to go unrecognised. Furthermore. briefing is usually seen in the UK construction industry as a one-off process leading to one-off design and construction. which provides no basis for the continuous improvement of products and services.
Another difficulty is posed by the term ‘brief’. which is used in the UK to describe one of the legal documents encapsulating the client's requirements. In the construction industry this tends to be produced at the beginning of the project programme somewhere between RIBA plan of work stages A and B.
The sequential staged model of the plan of work does not describe what happens in reality. As fees for architects‘ services are usually related to the output of the plan of work stages the specific needs for the development of the brief are not articulated nor usually remunerated.
Many clients do not realise that architects can add considerable value if they are fully conversant with the clients’ business needs and encouraged to look at these in a holistic way as well as in detail.
One of the architect's key skills is to think strategically. This skill should be applied to the business needs as a whole and not just to design and construction.
Hans Haenlein www.haenlein.com