Generating and testing detailed options

Developing design options allows you to explore the different ways that you can meet the brief and achieve the project vision.

Generating and testing detailed options
is part of the masterplanning process.

Clients need to oversee the preparation of design options, and then test them against a range of agreed technical and qualitative criteria. The discussion and consultation around the options helps to create a preferred option. Determining the most appropriate way forward will require making a balanced judgement across a range of social, economic and environmental issues, and needs input from different perspectives.

The extent of this work will depend on the complexity of the project, but it should be planned and agreed with the project team. For example, it is important for a client to have a good overview of what analysis was done during the prepare and define stages so that you avoid agreeing to the project team undertaking unnecessary detailed work at the design stage.

You can take good and bad from all design options. If you’re able to talk and find out why they’ve made decisions, you can bounce ideas off each other.
Christina Riley, Kettering Borough Council

Options need to be considered in terms of their desirability, viability and feasibility, so your business case, quality strategy and delivery strategy will be key reference documents for this task. As client, you need to be satisfied that those strategies have been reflected in the generation and testing of options.

How do I generate and test detailed options?

  1. Develop the evidence base from the prepare stage
    Make available to the project team all the studies conducted during the prepare stage and work with them to explore what further information might be needed.
  2. Undertake analysis
    Commission any further studies needed to support the project team’s design approach and to test emerging proposals.
  3. Prepare masterplan options
    Using the key ideas and opportunities identified through analysis, the project team will seek to bring together design ideas into different scenarios.
  4. Oversee technical testing
    Use various techniques to explore the benefits and shortcomings of emerging options, and to suggest modifications to enhance how they might perform.
  5. Set criteria for evaluating options
    Agree evaluation criteria in advance with stakeholders and make sure that all parties know the basis on which decisions will be made.
  6. Use design workshops to generate and evaluate options
    Options development and testing does not have to be an exercise conducted solely by the project team: clients can use established techniques to help generate and test ideas.

Examples of generating and testing detailed options

Useful links

  • T1.2.3 Financial Appraisal and Viability in the Planning Process