Brief Clarification

What is Brief Clarification

The brief clarification is the final stage in the process of defining the client's requirements for the development of a built asset:

  • The statement of need is the first attempt to describe the possible requirements of the project.
  • The strategic brief develops from the statement of need and describes the client's requirements in sufficient detail to allow the appointment of consultants. It is then developed further with the benefit of comments made by the consultants.
  • The brief Clarification is the key document upon which the design will be based.

It will evolve through the brief clarification stage and the concept design stage with the benefit of the information gained from consultations with the client and other stakeholders and ongoing design development.

As well as gathering information about physical requirements, the briefing process should:

  • Verify the objectives and priorities of the project.
  • Ensure space, time and budget parameters are aligned with the client’s vision and needs.
  • Ensure expectations are reasonable and attainable.
  • Clarify client roles and the project structure.
  • Establish how much the client knows already and their level of experience; do they already have a clear brief?
  • Gather contextual information.
  • Gather user information.
  • Establish the building life span and flexibility requirements.

b. How to build

Step 1: Conduct a Stakeholder Interview

In order to create successful products as a designer, it’s crucial to discover how the stakeholders think - what is the vision for the product (from each of the stakeholders' perspectives), and how can these be amalgamated? A Stakeholder Interview should be conducted to find out the following:

  • What are the business goals (so later we can see where the user goals and the business goals align)?
  • Are there any existing research or design material?
  • What is already known about the users?
  • What is the stakeholder’s background, story?
  • Who are the known competitors?
  • Are there any technological limitations?
  • Additional project-related information (deadlines, team members etc.).

Step 2: Clarify a Project Brief

  • A description of the client's brand, culture and organization
  • A description of the client's vision, mission and objectives
  • A description of the client's priorities and the criteria that will be used to measure success
  • Organizational structure and decision making processes
  • Changes to the client that the project will bring about
  • Interfaces with other projects
  • Client policies that may be applicable to the project
  • Client preferences for the project (for example; image, use of local materials, use of landscape, etc.), and quality expectations (including health and safety, sustainability and design quality)
  • A description of the principles that will be adopted in the development of the design.

Step 3: Define a Project Charter

Lastly, we sum up all the requirements, information and project brief into a document named Project Charter. It refers to a statement of objectives in a project. This statement also sets out detailed project goals, roles and responsibilities, identifies the main stakeholders, and the level of authority of a project manager.

Project Charter template

  • Project Name: Use this space to give the project a name. Without a name, it will be very difficult to discuss the project with others.
  • Project Sponsor: The project sponsor is the person from the business with the appropriate authority who is authorizing the project to commence.
  • Project Manager: State the name of the project manager. It is important to identify the project manager so as they are involved in the early shaping of the project, ensuring realistic goals and expectations are set from the outset.
  • Date of Project Approval: When the project charter is approved by the project sponsor we enter the date here.
  • Last Revision Date: The date at which the document was last updated.
  • Project Description: This section provides us with the opportunity to briefly describe the project.
  • Scope: State what is within the scope of the project as well as what is outside of the scope of the project. This area allows us to describe briefly the deliverables as well as the work that needs to be done to deliver them.
  • Business Case: Use this space to summarize our business case or link to a document containing the business case.
  • Constraints: If we have any known scope constraints, deadlines, budgetary constraints, or quality constraints, enter them here. We can move the order of constraints around to show their relative importance.
  • Project Deliverables: Use this space to enter the tangible deliverables that will be produced by the project and given to the customer (project sponsor). Some projects may have lots of deliverables, others just a single deliverable.
  • Benefits: In this space, we can highlight the business benefits expected as a result of the project. There is also space to record the key performance indicators (KPIs) against which the project will be measured, understand where we are now for each KPI, as well as set targets for the KPIs.
  • Steering Committee: List down who will make up our steering committee here.
  • Project Team: If we know the members of our project team then enter their names here.
  • Key Stakeholders: This section allows us to identify our key stakeholders in the project, and outline what conditions have to be met in order for those stakeholders to be satisfied with the outcome of the project.
  • Risks: If we are aware of any risks that might affect the success of the project then enter them here. Effectively, this section allows the project sponsor and steering committee to enter into the project with their eyes wide open as to the potential risks ahead.

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