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Application of value management in project briefing


Ann T.W. Yu Qiping Shen John Kelly Kirsty Hunter

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Ann T.W. Yu Qiping Shen John Kelly Kirsty Hunter, (2005),"Application of value management in project
briefing", Facilities, Vol. 23 Iss 7/8 pp. 330 - 342
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John Kelly, Kirsty Hunter, Geoffrey Shen, Ann Yu, (2005),"Briefing from a facilities management
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Application of value management


in project briefing
Ann T.W. Yu and Qiping Shen

330

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Received November 2004


Accepted March 2005

Department of Building and Real Estate, The Hong Kong Polytechnic


University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, and

John Kelly and Kirsty Hunter


School of the Built and Natural Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University,
City Campus, Glasgow, UK
Abstract
Purpose To describe a research project which seeks to establish a value management framework
for project briefing to systematically identify and clarify client requirements, and represent these
requirements precisely and explicitly to facilitate the design process.
Design/methodology/approach Two research instruments are used: structured questionnaire
survey to validate the theoretical framework established; and experiments to test the proposed value
management framework with real-life projects, supported by case studies.
Findings The primary research findings of this project are the identification of 13 variables that
have an impact on the briefing process, which form the basis of the theoretical framework. It is
revealed that the theoretical foundation of the research supports the use of value management to the
briefing process. Further validation will be completed by conducting questionnaire survey and real-life
case studies.
Originality/value This paper improves comprehension of the nature, characteristics and problems
of the briefing process. It also introduces the theoretical foundation of the research project and
describes the process for the development of the value management framework for project briefing.
Keywords Construction industry, Customer requirements, Resource description framework
Paper type Research paper

Facilities
Vol. 23 No. 7/8, 2005
pp. 330-342
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0263-2772
DOI 10.1108/02632770510600281

Introduction
Briefing (also known as architectural programming in USA) is the process of
identifying and defining the requirements of the client organisation in the early design
stage of a construction project. A brief (also known as program in USA) is described as
a formal document which sets out the client requirements for a construction project,
and forms the basis for design. It is a product of the briefing process by which options
are reviewed and requirements are articulated (Blyth and Worthington, 2001). The
preparation of project briefs is a topical issue in the construction industry (Duerk, 1993;
Barrett and Stanley, 1999; Kamara and Anumba, 2001). The briefing process is both
critical to the satisfaction of clients as well as the successful delivery of construction
projects. A good project brief protects client from a major source of delays and cost
overruns. When a good brief is in place, design can begin earlier, proceed more
efficiently, and suffer less slippage and fewer false starts and client rejections.
The work described in this paper was supported by the Research Grants Council of the Hong
Kong Special Administrative Region, China (PolyU 5007/02E).

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Due to the complexities in identifying and conveying clients actual needs and
requirements accurately to the project team and the immense magnitude of project
information that needs to be considered during the briefing process, project briefs are
often inadequate and not sufficiently explicit, and thus may not truly reflect client
requirements (Graham, 1983; Barrett and Stanley, 1999). To overcome this problem, a
number of studies have been conducted to develop briefing guides for inexperienced
clients (CIRIA, 1984; Bailey, 1990; CIB, 1997; Salisbury, 1998). Despite these early
attempts, the current briefing practice is still considered as inadequate by many
researchers (e.g. Barrett and Stanley, 1999; Kamara and Anumba, 2001). The lack of a
systematic approach to identifying and clarifying client requirements, and defining
and communicating them to the designers, are major roadblocks to successful project
delivery.
The present study seeks to investigate whether the application of value
management to the briefing process can lead to systematic identification and
clarification of client requirements, and precise and explicit representation of these
requirements. This paper introduces the theoretical foundation of the research project
and describes the process for the development of the value management framework for
project briefing.
The characteristics of briefing
Previous literature on the briefing process encompasses the following issues:
Briefing and clients
Briefing process involves the client informing the project team of his intentions for the
project and documenting the objectives, needs and requirements in a brief. The client
can be a single person or multi-headed client. Multi-headed client may be an
organisation, or group of stakeholders, made up of individuals with differing wants
and desires. It is difficult to find the right path that satisfies the diverse goals of a
multi-headed client (Potter, 1995). The situation is complicated by the existence of the
gap between the user clients and paying clients (or demand-supply gap) (Zeisel,
1984). However, it is important that the briefing process should adequately capture the
requirements of all stakeholders that make up the Client (Cheong et al., 2003).
Dynamic and iterative process
The briefing process in construction is of complex and iterative nature. It requires a
shared understanding and commitment among a group of stakeholders of a project,
including the client, the end users, and the project team. It is also a dynamic process
that continues through the early design stages of a project, and involves frequent
interactions among the stakeholders (Barrett and Stanley, 1999). A good project brief
should include a precise description of the functionalities required by the stakeholders
for the building project.
Extensive information possession
Briefing involves a huge and wide range of initial/preliminary but crucial
data/information/knowledge from different independent sources. It also involves
concurrent and collaborative work by different non co-located parties over the same

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information (Rezgui et al., 2001). Therefore, coordination and communication among


clients representatives, stakeholders and project team are of vital importance.

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Critical decision-making process


Briefing embraces numerous essential decisions where the major commitment of
resource is made. At this stage, the potential to influence cost is huge; therefore all
possible options should be comprehensively examined to ensure that no potential
alternatives have been missed. Many changes and revisions would occur during the
briefing stage. All the decisions and the reasons justified throughout the briefing
should be properly documented in a formal manner (Cheong et al., 2003).
Problems associated with briefing
A comprehensive literature review of briefing practices in the construction industry
has been conducted. This section reveals the problems in briefing:
Lack of a comprehensive framework
Although numerous briefing guides have been developed for briefing, many
researchers suggested that the general framework for briefing was still inadequate
(Newman et al., 1981; MacPherson et al., 1992; Barrett and Stanley, 1999; Construct IT,
1996; Kamara and Anumba, 2001). The limitations in the existing framework for
briefing can shift the focus away from the requirements of the client, and can result in
problems in briefing practice (Kamara and Anumba, 2001).
Lack of identification of client requirements
Successful briefing relies on the thorough analysis of needs and rigorous evaluation of
available options (Atkin et al., 1995). Latham (1994) and Kamara and Anumba (2001)
revealed that commercial pressure from clients may require detailed designs to be
prepared as soon as possible. This reduces the time spent on understanding the real
needs and requirements of the clients and may affect the performance and success of
the project.
Inadequate involvement of all the relevant parties of a project
Previous research revealed that the briefs may not be comprehensive because they are
usually prepared by only a small group of representatives from the client organisation
or by the consultants in the industry. Most public clients reported that involvement of
other stakeholders would prolong the duration of briefing because of the difficulties
associated with identifying them and reaching a general consensus in meetings (Chung
and Shen, 2003).
Inadequate communication between those involved in briefing
The use of sketches and drawings to re-state and record changes to client requirements
can make it difficult for requirements to be traced to the original needs of the client.
Moreover, records of decisions at project meetings can be quite vague, and do not
provide any explanation of why those decisions were taken (Kamara and Anumba,
2001).

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Insufficient time allocated for briefing


Previous research projects show that poor definition of client requirements is due to
inadequate time and thought being given at an early enough stage (Potter, 1995; Pena
and Parshall, 2001; Kamara et al., 2002). This often occurs because there is urgency to
obtain an immediate solution (CIB, 1997). Time pressure and a refusal to commit
finances have caused the briefing to be limited mainly to financial considerations
(Barrett and Stanley, 1999).
All these problems in current briefing practices may affect the end performance of
the building and reduce the client satisfaction of the project.
Application of value management in briefing
In order to overcome the problems that are associated with Briefing, a number of
studies have been conducted to develop briefing guides for inexperienced clients (e.g.
OReilly, 1987; CIB, 1997; Salisbury, 1998). Despite these early attempts, the current
briefing practices are still considered as inadequate by many researchers (e.g. Duerk,
1993; Barrett and Stanley, 1999; Kamara et al., 2002). The most comprehensive review
of these studies to date is perhaps the work undertaken by MacPherson et al. (1992),
which identified the weakness the current briefing practice as being too general and
implicit to offer real assistance to clients and designers, and the briefing guides tell
what should be done without explaining how things can be done. They suggest using
value management (VM) for the future development of the briefing guide.
Value management is a structured and analytical process that seeks to achieve
value for money by providing all the necessary functions at the lowest cost consistent
with required levels of quality and performance (AS/NZS 4183, 1994).
It enables organisations to adopt a consistent approach towards decision-making,
taking into account the needs of the business, the environment within which it is
operating, and the people who may be involved. As a very effective tool in meeting the
increasing demands for value enhancement by clients (DellIsola, 1982; Barton, 2000),
VM has been widely used in many countries over the past five decades. The US
Government requires the entire executive branch and federal agencies to establish and
maintain cost-effective VM procedures and processes in all programmes and projects
(SAVE International, 1997).
In Hong Kong, a technical circular was jointly issued by the Works Bureau and the
Planning, Environment & Lands Bureau, which demands VM studies for major projects
in the subordinate departments (Works Bureau, 2002). The Construction Industry
Review Committee (2001) has also recommended that VM should be used more widely
in local construction, because VM can help the clients and the project team to focus on
the objectives and needs of the project and all stakeholders, both long- and short- term.
Using VM at the briefing stage, as a means of formulating the brief, is the most
beneficial application (NSW Government, 1993). It enables clients to participate fully in
the briefing process, and facilitates communication between clients and other
stakeholders. An essential element of the VM methodology is the expression of client
requirements as functions (a function is the specific purpose or intended use of a
project that makes the project sell, produce revenue, or meet requirements). This
approach enables a systematic identification and clear definition of client
requirements, an improved understanding of various stakeholders objectives, and
the effective accomplishment of these functions. It also acts as a common language

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Figure 1.
The outline methodology
of SMART value
management

among stakeholders of the project, so that they can work together harmoniously to
identify opportunities available for development and to highlight any potential
problems at the very beginning of the project.
A successful attempt in the functional representation of client requirements is the
Charette job plan, which rationalises client briefs primarily through the function
analysis of space requirements. This plan is considered by many clients as an effective
method of briefing the design team to avoid abortive design work (Kelly and Male,
1993). It should, however, be broadened to include other issues of client requirements
and to ensure that designers fully understand these requirements. The expansion of
this plan can be assisted by using the Functional Hierarchy which draws the why-how
relationships among functions of a project diagrammatically: higher level functions
appear on the left-hand side, and lower level functions on the right-hand side.
The realisation of the differences between structured and unstructured problems
has led to attempts to revise the VM methodology to cope with unstructured problems
such as the briefing process. Green (1994, 1997) proposed a SMART methodology and
suggested the use of soft systems methodology. The unique contribution of SMART
value management is the way in which it provides a framework for facilitating thought
and communication. The outline methodology for SMART value management is
illustrated in Figure 1.
Barton (2000) proposed a soft value management methodology, which is specifically
designed to address complex problems encountered in project initiation, whereby a
large number of people are involved in the process and high-level facilitation skills are
essential to its success. The methodology is summarised as follows:
.
The facilitation methodology separates workshop processes from the content of
the study and makes extensive use of co-facilitators.

.
.

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Soft value management studies typically include between 20 and 30 people.


Soft value management embraces the notions of functions and purpose, and
makes use of modelling techniques.
Soft value management workshops are typically of two days duration in which
the first day is primarily one of divergence, about learning, creative a new
knowledge base, shared understanding and creating possibilities. The second
day is one of convergence, about evaluating ideas and developing proposals in
response to defined study objectives. The structure of these workshops follows a
traditional problem solving/value management approach, comprising sequential
phases of finding out, creating possibilities, evaluating the possibilities,
developing options, drawing conclusions, taking decisions and developing an
action plan.
Soft value management is characterised by extensive small-group work in which
participants work in focus-groups, undertaking tasks to progress the study.

Research methodology
The research project was approached through an initial brainstorming session by three
researchers to identify variables likely to be significant in a theoretical framework for
briefing. A comprehensive literature review confirmed or rejected the variables as
significant and highlighted other variables initially not included. Some 13 significant
variables were identified as having an impact from a theoretical perspective and
became the theoretical foundation for the project. These variables were investigated in
detail in the first stage to identify their impact, if any, on the briefing process of
construction projects. This work was written-up to form a working research document
that summarises each of the 13 parts in terms of how the briefing process is influenced
by the variables. This document forms the basis for the development of a theory
behind the issues involved in the briefing process.
A questionnaire survey is used to identify missing variables (if any) and to validate
the established theoretical framework. Questions were formed with reference to the
aforesaid working research document and a questionnaire containing four sections
was drafted. The first section collects the background information of the respondents.
The second section is designed to collect opinions from respondents on the briefing
process. The 13 variables are tested and verified in the third section. In the fourth
section, an open-ended question concerning critical success factors for construction
briefing is asked. The survey will be conducted in Hong Kong, UK and USA. A variety
of methods will be used to distribute the questionnaire to project managers and
architects who have experience on briefing. A web-based questionnaire will be used to
administer the questionnaire survey in the UK and USA. A postal questionnaire will be
adopted in Hong Kong, in order to increase the response rate of the survey. The
respondents will be allowed to complete the questionnaire in eight weeks time. The
data collected will be analysed using SPSS 12.0 package to determine whether the
respondents are in agreement with our theoretical framework.
Research findings
The primary research findings of this project are the identification of 13 variables that
have major impact on the briefing process. It was realised that some of the variables

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require consideration at particular points in the briefing cycle whereas others are
present throughout the life-cycle of a facility from the commencement of the briefing
stage. The input of each variable on the briefing process has been investigated and
recorded in the working document, and a brief outline of each variable has been
given with its relevance to briefing.

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Projects
A project is a change-orientated event defined as an enterprise comprising physical
and non-physical activities that include a pre-project stage to ensure effective planning
and a post-project stage to ensure successful absorption into core business. Therefore
a project is a separate, temporary activity of an organisations core business but one
which will make a change. A brief for a project requires the initiator of the brief to
accept changes.
Stakeholder management
In the briefing process, it is necessary to consider the interests of stakeholders, both
primary and secondary, and maintain a balance of interests of different stakeholders.
Those with responsibility for the briefing process should strive to maintain a good
working relationship among all stakeholders.
Change management
The briefing team must recognise that people are at the heart of any change process;
therefore communication and involvement are key areas to ensure change
management success. The key areas of change management are education, training,
communication, team and leadership development.
Knowledge management
Knowledge management in briefing relies on teamwork, collaboration, face-to-face
contact and effective communication structures. Fundamental to briefing, therefore, is
the mapping of individuals contributions to organisational project knowledge in order
to determine the membership of the project briefing team.
Risk and conflict management
The importance of applying risk management techniques during the initial project
appraisal phase of the briefing process lies in maintaining flexibility in consideration of
design and planning alternatives while the biggest degree of uncertainty exists.
Collaboration and problem-solving is preferred to conflict resolution during the
briefing process.
Post-occupancy evaluation and post-project evaluation
Successes, failures and past experiences of what does and does not work well should be
used to inform better decision-making in the briefing process.
Teams and team dynamics
The briefing team is project focused and interacting; comprising individuals willing to
sacrifice individualism for collectivism.

Client representation
It is important to ensure adequate representation of client groups to address client
needs and to prevent distortion of the brief.

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Types of business and organisational theory


The briefing process must take into account that the team may consist of many
different types of organisations with different success criteria. These success criteria
are influenced by stakeholder satisfaction. For example, a government organisation or
a not-for-profit organisation will differ greatly in terms of success criteria from those in
the team who aim to make a profit from the project.
Decision making
A good briefing team should not limit themselves to just one decision-making method;
instead, they should operate in contingency fashion by changing decision methods to
best fit the problem and situation at hand.
Communication
The briefing process is essentially one of communication. Active listening should be
encouraged in the briefing exercise to allow a free and complete flow of information
and to enable effective communication.
Culture and ethics
In managing the briefing team, the influence of culture dimensions such as language,
time orientation, use of space, religion, power distance, individualism-collectivism,
masculinity-femininity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term/short-term orientation
must be taken into account. The briefing team may encounter ethical dilemmas which
affect decision-making in the briefing process.
Critical success factors and key performance indicators
The critical success factors in the briefing process range from clear objectives and
requirements of the project to trust and involvement of key stakeholders. Key
performance indicators include time, cost, and quality as well as satisfaction of
stakeholders, environmental and social issues.
Figure 2 shows the interaction of these variables.
At the stage of the project brief, there are a number of inputs, controls and
measures that are established to ensure the successful progression from the briefing
stage throughout the remainder of the buildings life-cycle. These inputs involve all
types of management (change management, stakeholder management, knowledge
management, project management and, risk and conflict management) as well as their
associated techniques to improve project success (brainstorming, tree diagrams,
influence diagrams, Delphi method, nominal group technique, computer-mediated
decision-making, ACID test, stakeholder analysis and visualisation tools). If
knowledge management is used as an example, individual members of the team will
have tacit and explicit knowledge that will be of valuable input to the project brief.
This information will be shared and transferred to knowledge among the team to guide
and support the project.

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Figure 2.
The variables affecting
briefing

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The controls and measures set up at this stage involve the use of various project
management techniques, the implementation of a project execution plan and the use of
key performance indicators, which may be the industrys standard indicators or those
identified by the project team, or a combination of both.
The project briefing stage will also be influenced by previous post occupancy and
post project evaluations which should outline the successes and failures of previous
projects and influence decisions made at the briefing stage to ensure organisational
learning resulting in more successful projects.
Communication, decision-making and the impact of culture and ethics are the
factors that span everything from commencement of the briefing process throughout
the facilitys life-cycle.
Value management input to briefing
Kao (2003) states that an alternative perspective is needed to introduce and cover
social and innovative matters into the briefing process in order to achieve a full
understanding of client requirements. It is understood that briefing has moved on
from compiling data and information concerning the client requirements to
understanding the client requirements through a social learning process. This
presents the case for the input of VM to the briefing process.
The VM service and tools and techniques associated with it may address each of the
variables identified provided the method is used properly and by an accredited
facilitator. In terms of projects, VM is a project orientated service which relies on clear
objectives being set for the workshop(s) to allow for an agenda to be set which will
improve project performance. VM is most effective when applied to a project with
clearly defined goals and a start and completion date. It also relies on a project team
getting together for a workshop to discuss the project and add value in any way
possible to the project. How this team performs will depend on the dynamics of the
team and their ability to share and transfer knowledge. In addition, VM can improve
communication and understanding of the client, consultants and stakeholders; the
essence of briefing.
Future research works
After analysing the responses from the questionnaire survey on the theoretical
framework, a practical VM framework will be developed on the basis of the results of
the questionnaire survey. The proposed framework is likely to comprise two major
elements: a structured job plan for the briefing process, and a hierarchical structure to
identify, define and represent client requirements.
The next step is to develop a practical how-to guide which explains the
application of the proposed framework in detail. The guide will provide practical
solutions to critical issues frequently encountered in the briefing process. Tools,
techniques and examples of tasks such as how to identify clients needs, how to
represent client interest groups, how to set priorities for objectives will be provided in
this guidebook.
Subsequently, a snowball sampling technique will be adopted to identify VM
experts who will be invited to give comments on the initial draft of the guidebook. This
sampling technique will commence with the distribution of invitation letters to
recognised VM professionals who will be asked to recommend other experts in the VM

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field. The guidebook will then be sent to those VM professionals who are willing to
participate in the study and give their opinions on the guidebook. Following this, the
guidebook will be revised in accordance with their comments.
In order to evaluate and validate the proposed approach, experiments will be
conducted by applying the proposed framework to a group of three office projects in
Hong Kong and the UK. These experiments will focus on whether the proposed
approach can lead to the systematic identification and clarification of client
requirements. The results of these experiments will be compared with similar projects
that did not use the proposed approach. The outcomes of the experiments will be used
as case studies and discussed with design consultants of the projects to investigate the
effects and usefulness of the proposed approach in the briefing process. Views from the
design consultants will be collected and compiled. Based on the feedback, the proposed
framework will further be improved and refined.
Conclusions
This paper summarises the research work completed to date and presents the interim
findings of the project. The major areas of findings are the identification of the 13
variables that have impact on the briefing process, a theoretical framework for
construction briefing and the need of a VM input to briefing.
The review of literature and the development of the theoretical foundation revealed
that VM is useful to overcome briefing problems evident years ago and still apparent in
todays construction industry. VM provides a proven management technique that can
be applied to the briefing process to help client organisations achieve optimal solution
for their construction projects.
The existing models in the literature do not take into consideration those factors
such as change, knowledge and risk management, which were developed during the
same timeframe. This international research proposes that the proven foundation will
be embodied within a more sophisticated VM framework for briefing.
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