Last edited 05 Nov 2020

Business justification for building development

The process for completing the design and construction of a building is often divided into stages. This can be helpful in establishing milestones for the submission of progress reports, the preparation of information for approval, client gateways, and for making payments. However there is a great deal of ambiguity between the naming of stages by different organisations and the definition of what individual stages actually include (see comparison of work stages) and so it is important that appointment documents make it clear specifically what activities fall within which stage, and what level of detail is required.

Within the Designing Buildings Wiki project plans, the business justification stage is the first stage, taking place once a business need has been identified which might result in a building project. This is analogous to the ‘Strategic definition’ stage of the RIBA Plan of Work, (See comparison of work stages), but includes more preparatory client activities, undertaken before consultants are appointed.

This stage involves creating an internal team to assess whether there is justification for the project at all. In the first instance, a statement of need is prepared, which is an initial attempt to describe the possible requirements of the project. It should be stressed that this may or may not result in an actual project, and even if a project is necessary, it may not require a new building.

A preliminary business case is then prepared which is a first attempt to justify the investment required by the potential project.

If it is then considered worth investigating the project in more detail, the client may then create an internal organisational structure for the project and assesses the nature of the consultant team that would be needed to proceed with the project. The client may then develop the statement of need into an initial strategic brief which provides sufficient information about the project to allow the appointment of a consultant team.

The client should then consider whether to proceed to the next stage where a consultant team would be appointed, feasibility studies undertaken, and options assessments carried out. Clearly this would involve significant expenditure.

As the business justification stage takes place before the appointment of the main consultant team that will deliver the project, the client may wish to appoint independent client advisers to help them.

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