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Briefing documents are crucial to the success of a project as they describe the requirements for which the design provides the solution.
However, the huge variety of names given to briefing documents inevitably leads to confusion, particularly where members of a project team are working together for the first time.
Broadly on Designing Buildings Wiki we have followed the Office of Government Commerce(OGC) naming system for briefing documents, but have added a 'statement of need' that describes the client's possible requirements in the very early stages, before it has been decided that a project is merited.
Whilst the OGC has now been absorbed into the Efficiency and Reform Group within the Cabinet Office and its documentation archived, its procedures are still referred to in the Government Construction Strategy, and the OGC gateway review process remains the only detailed description of the path followed by public projects.
For clarity, and by way of justifying our approach, we set out below the range of terms we use and their equivalents in the OGC or RIBA systems.
NB: Whilst generally, briefing documents will evolve over the life of a project and will require specialist input from consultants, an experienced client may be able to prepare a detailed brief in the very early stages that does not require a great deal of further development (for example a retailer who regularly opens new stores).
An inexperienced client however may benefit from input by independent client advisers to prepare a strategic brief, and this may then be developed with the help of the consultant team.
 Statement of need
This is the client's very first attempt to describe their possible requirements, before it has been decided that a project is merited or what form such a project might take. There is no equivalent document in the RIBA plan of work or the OGC gateway procedure.