Taking the brief

A project’s objective is to deliver outputs. Typically, for a project manager these are a new building, a refurbished building or maintenance work.

To shape the project, and to identify its vision and outputs, the client should ensure that the rationale for investment is defined and documented from the outset of the project in the form of a project brief. Ideally, this information will be provided completely and concisely by the client. However, a project manager should ensure that the appropriate information is drawn out from the client and is effective and detailed enough to inform the project.  

Taking an effective project brief is critical to the success of a project. Yet it is often either neglected or completed then ignored for the remainder of the project.

Project briefs should be agreed by all parties at the outset of the project, and regularly reviewed and updated throughout the course of the project. They keep a project focused on clear definable outcomes and can be used to encourage buy-in from third-party stakeholders and supporters.

Revisiting the brief at key stages ensures that the building project that is eventually delivered meets the client’s requirements. This is particularly relevant on long, complex projects.

The project brief is also a great tool to use to measure success at various stages and at the close of the project, and also to hone the process for future projects.

The brief should have a clear purpose and include the following themes:

  • how the brief will be used as a basis of the project requirements
  • how an outline brief can be developed into a detailed brief for sign-off and how this then forms the basis of the preparation of the outline design and
  • reiteration of the importance of referring to the brief at key stages throughout the project, in order to establish that the solutions offered meet the original requirements. This also gives the client the opportunity to revise their requirements as the project progresses.

This section is maintained by David Medcraft of Tuffin Ferraby Taylor LLP.

Related content

RICS standards: Tendering strategies

Document template: Client briefing letter

RICS journal article: Reconciling costs and conditions