Issue 14, February 2008

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Think Big . Think Impact . Think Global - RGC Chair Urges Academics
Predicting the Influence of
Crosswinds on Vehicles
and Cable Bridges
Addressing the Injustice of Space and Housing
Globalisation of Popular Culture
Translations Bring Gao Xingjian's Work to Broader Audience
Best Practice for Project Briefings
New Measurement Aids Understanding of Cement Hydration

Many Design and construction problems in the development cycle can be tracked back to the initial project briefing process, according to Professor Geoffrey Q. P. Shen, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Construction and Land Use at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Research has identified that the briefing phase of any project development can be problematic. Various construction industry studies have indicated that more effort is requirements and expectations. Professor Shen and his team, in a series of five studies, have used finding from the Research Grants Council to identify key problem areas and to create tools which assist clients and professionals in the building industry who are responsible for the design, construction and management of projects.

"Our research explored the potential of a best practice framework to systematically identify and precisely represent client requirements. We have demonstrated that value management is a good framework for such purpose," said Professor Shen.

This work has resulted in two guidebooks on Value Briefing. One has been written for professional and technical staff, the other is designed for executives of relevant companies in the development process.

The guide can be used as a holistic approach for those new to facilitative briefing, as a check list for those who will lead and manage the briefing process, and as reference documents. The research was used to create benchmarks for best practice in this area and the guides themselves highlight recent research and industry directions.

"During our study, we involved practitioners who brought their knowledge and experience to test and verify the proposed framework. There was an excellent level of interaction at between the research team and the practitioners."

The guidebooks have been circulated widely within the construction industry, professional value management practitioners and facilitators, and among development companies.

"We have produced a structured process to identify project requirements. Stakeholders are brought together in a workshop environment and they follow a procedure that focuses on information gathering, functions identification, idea generation and evaluation. The end result – a clear and accurate project brief- can be achieved quickly in this environment."

Professor Shen noted that this framework can be applied worldwide. However he has cautioned that briefing mechanism should be constantly updated to meet the changing demands of the industry.

"While we have addressed many issues associated with project briefings, the area requires on going attention from the academic community."

A PhD student was successfully trained over the duration of this research project. The resultant thesis has received a number of accolades including the Innovation Award from CIB student chapter of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Distinction Award from the Tony Toy Memorial Award of the Hong Kong Institute of Value Management. Of the numerous referred journal papers and conference papers published from this research project, one received a Highly Commended Paper Award from the Emerald Literati Network.

Professor Shen Qi Ping
Faculty of Construction and Land Use
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University