Last edited 04 Mar 2020

Strategic definition stage for building projects

The process for completing the design and construction of a building is often divided into notional ‘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 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.

Strategic definition’ is a stage referred to in the RIBA Plan of Work. This plan comprises eight work stages. The first stage, Strategic definition is a new stage, although some of the tasks involved were previously included in old first stage of the 2007 Plan of Work ‘Appraisal’.

During the strategic definition stage, the client’s business case and strategic brief are assessed to ensure they have been properly considered’ and the scope of the project is defined.

The 2020 Edition of the Plan of Work suggest that 'Stage 0 is not about design or the practical details. It focuses on making the right strategic decisions and capturing them in a Business Case. The stage involves considering the pros and cons, Project Risks and Project Budget for a range of options and, where necessary, carrying out Site Surveys and corresponding planning appraisals, before undertaking a comparative analysis and recommending and ratifying the best option for delivering the Client Requirements.'

The stage is followed by stage 1, ‘Preparation and briefing’ which involves developing the initial project brief, carrying out feasibility studies and assembling the project team ready for concept design to commence.

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