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The process of client briefing is extremely valuable towards the achievement of a construction project, in line with the client's objectives, within the limitations it is restrained by, such as the cost of the project, the time period set out and the quality of the construction and work ethic put into the project for a valuable outcome. The client is invaluable in this brief, hence the name, client briefing, as this person must make all expectations fully aware to the design team that they understand what the client's needs are, and the client is to make sure that the design team understand him/her properly.
Should the client not be precise on the details of what is wanted, the design team can't gain a complete understanding of what the overall outcome is to be, and the design team could go ahead, and fill in the vague areas with their own initiative; this is a major problem as it results in client dissatisfaction. This briefing process plays the deciding factor of whether the client is satisfied or not with the final result of the project. Should the client be satisfied with the outcome, then the client has clearly laid out the expectations of what was wanted and the design team has met the demands.
A simplified explanation to the client briefing process would be to consider the construction of a bridge. The client would have various experts all from different fields within the construction sector; such as civil engineers, structural engineers, architects, quantity surveyors, property developers and other contractors. The all come together to discuss and debate the client's issues to ensure the best possible outcome. Some items to be discussed is to be the exact location, this is not a debate as it must start in one place and end in another over-passing an obstacle. The construction of the bridge would then be put forward by the client, but the client is not a specialist in construction and might not know anything about construction for that matter, so idea's are put forward by the client and the design team will then debate it and determine what result would be best suited, and for the architect, s/he would have to consider the location of the bridge for aesthetic purposes and environmental factors. now that the client has set forward their requirements the design team begins their part of the work and that is to analyse the situation and come up with a final idea and present it to the client who will determine if it meets his/her criteria.
VALUE OF CLIENT BRIEFING
A client brief is worth writing as it simplifies and maps out what is required. It saves money which in as essential element in construction as it can hinder the design and delay the overall process, should funds reach a minimum level. The client brief also results in better work being produced and also at a more effective rate. All other processes of the construction project flow from this brief. Due to this factor, it is essential to ensure that the brief is completed properly and is clear of all requirement put forward by the client. When further planning and other phases commence, there will be no unnecessary delays.
The cost factor can be immense if continuous discussions occur with no real sense of direction. This direction is set by the client brief, and this is how money is saved, by placing the final product toward the design team, so they discuss the criteria and issues relating, and are to arrive at a result leading to the successful completion of the final product. This cost can be a disadvantage to both sides. Towards the client it will be the loss of money which could have been used elsewhere and for the design team, its cost of working time, where they could have been working on another project.
A brief written correctly and as detailed as possible makes life much simpler for the client and also for the design team and increases the efficiency. However the initial planning of the client brief may be time consuming, but in the end, once this brief is completed, the overall project can flow much simpler without stopping between phases to consider the various alternatives.
A first-class brief would be known to have the following in common in any client brief; it would be written, as a hard-copy is always the best option should a dispute or any other issue occur at a later stage during construction, the clarity of the thought process, this means that the longest brief is not always the best but rather a brief which is well thought out and laid out in a planned manner, leading to the final product without any difficulties found between texts, and lastly the objectives of the brief are to be clearly defined; no vagueness should be present, during the briefing process should items occur vaguely it should be queried with the client. A large percentage of clients believe that a client brief should be properly defined, displaying all key requirement to be present in the final product.
UNDERSTANDING OF CLIENTS AND THE BRIEF
Our clients are to be very focused on where they want to end. They have a starting point, point A, and a finishing point, point B. The client should state where they are now, informing the design team of where they currently stand with their dilemma which lead to the implementation of this project, and the key issues which are giving reason as to why the project should be implemented. Other information required in the client brief is, where the client wants to be at the end of the project; these ideas should be logical and flow towards the final goal.
The process of how the construction of the project will be carried out, getting from point A to point B. In addition, the concept of how will the team (client and design team) knows they have arrived at their final point. This should be clear as the client will know from the initial process what is wanted as the final product. Success or failure will be determined by these attributes; should all the objectives throughout the brief have been followed and met, then it is most likely that the final product will be a success, as there would be nothing else for it to resemble, except that of the client's brief.
Another section forming a great client brief is the practicalities. This is key to the brief as it indicated to the design team what their limitations are or should any consequences arise, the team can refer to the brief to check and limitations on practical works. The key practicalities to be mentioned are the timing, and the budget. With regards to timing, the following needs to be mentioned; the main delivery dates of items or phases of construction, and the payment dates, when the payment for certain items or phases are to be paid by, and most importantly the date of project completion. For the latter, the overall budget is to be set, and the design team is to work with this restricted value. The budget should be clear and broken down into components in the various stages during the construction process. The costs should be clearly defined for the various methods and stages of construction. Finally the approvals are added to the brief. This will state who has rights to sign off the work upon completion. This should preferably be the same person who has signed the completed brief, as this person would have been aware of the brief detail and hence will match it against the final constructed product.
In order to attain client satisfaction, a major hurdle to overcome is interpret the client's constructional needs into a workable design illustrating the characteristics, performance requirements and quality of construction.
The client is extremely a large role player in the client briefing process, as without a client there is no client briefing and therefore no construction will occur. Clients are to state clearly their expected performance of the building. Clients should give great detail regarding the effectiveness they hope to achieve and also their best forms of communication should be present, illustrating to the design team that s/he is aware of determined of what they want as a final product. A survey conducted by various architects, quantity surveyors, engineers, project managers, clients and general contractors within South Africa shows that there is a link in some way between a client brief not clearly defined and the dissatisfied client.
'Inadequate briefing is probably the main reason why buildings have been wasteful of resources or defective in use,' according to Jenks (1988: 32). This shows how important the client is towards producing an effective brief. The client needn't be rich or poor; all that is required is that the budget be suited to him/her. Should the building be wasted it implies a major cost to the client, and a large amount of money has been wasted and can't be regained.
In some instance there is the problem of the client not having sufficient knowledge regarding the construction industry and for this reason might have difficulty is relating to reasoning given by the design team should any issues or disputes occur. Also the client is usually unaware of regulations by authorities, which could restrict the client to what they are wanting. Another issue is of personality clashes between client and a member or members of the design team, this could hinder the best possible result of the brief, which in this instance seems to put the blame on the client should s/he be dissatisfied upon project completion, but in actual fact it could be that there is a limited time set for the client briefing, putting pressure on achieving a completed client brief, without considering more effective alternatives where necessary.
Clients play a fundamental role in forming the client brief. They need to express their criteria for their project clearly and state it in a manner that the design team can understand. The client needs to put forward his/her starting point and an idea of the method to get to the end product. From this point, the design team debates the issues concerned and forms a completed client brief.
The brief should aim to be as precise and clear as possible. Making it clear to all members of the design team what the final product is to end up like and not just client who will have a completed product in his/her mind. That image is to be materialised, making it simpler for the design team to visualise what is required. The briefing process can be improved should a team leader be appointed such as an architect or project manager, which can lead the team and prevent any unnecessary diversions during the formation of the brief.
A fault in a client brief, which could lead to the result of a dissatisfied client is that the client does not participate effectively in the client brief where need be. This occurs as a result of the client not having sufficient knowledge of the client briefing process and also their understanding of exactly what they want. At times members of the design team could put more practical or improved ideas forward, and this could expand the clients wants, making the client not know exactly what they want, as they want their own main idea with the new ideas included, whereas the new idea may have been an alternate approach to the same final or slightly different product.
In conclusion, it can be said that the client is to know what they want and be open to understand and view the project from the design team's point of view as they have the experience and knowledge of the project requirements which the client lacks in most cases.