On a matrix chart, these four factors, function, form, timing and value, can be plotted against four steps toward definition.
Firstly, what are the project goals; what will success look like?
Secondly, what are the facts surrounding the project which constrain and offer opportunities? The site and its context, the available resources, the timescale, etc.
Thirdly, what policies will be applied, for example on procurement, risk management, health and safety, inclusiveness, conservation, and operation and maintenance.
Fourthly, what list of needs comes out of this matrix, for space, relationship of uses, circulation, security, performance in use, targets for whole-life cost and carbon, and for design qualities of all types.
This list of needs is the design brief. Derived from that we need an information brief to support collaboration and decision taking. The information brief sets out what content and format is needed to demonstrate to decision makers that the design brief is being met at each decision point and project stage. The global standard for information management, ISO 19650, calls these the Project Information Requirements at Milestones. A digitally enabled team, following client instructions and using shared information management platforms, should produce the required decision support material at each point. This should enable the client body and other stakeholders to take firm and timely decisions to move the project forward. There should also be a progressive build-up of required asset information to support operation and maintenance of the asset in use.
The client should be presented on project completion with the physical asset and its digital equivalent as a resource. This resource can range from a simple as-build model with attached system and product data up to a digital twin where the real asset and its digital version are connected by sensors and analytics to optimise performance and service to occupiers.
The key to the whole preparation process is to envision the end state and plan the route to get there: to start with the end in mind.