A Value Study attempts to improve the value of a project using value engineering methodology. This is defined by the Value Methodology Standard, published by SAVE International. Typically, a value engineering team meets for 1-3 weeks, during which they work through the “job plan” as outlined by the standard.
According to the Value Methodology standard, there are 6 phases to a Value Study:
- Function Analysis
In this first phase, the team attempts to understand why the project exists and who or what it is to produce. They obtain project data, present the original design or product concepts, and understand the project scope. Schedule, costs, budget, risk, and other non-monetary issues are studied until the team is comfortable with the concept of the project, what it is to produce, and who its end users are.
This step also includes things like site visits and meetings with the project team, if required. Project documents like plans, drawings, specifications, and reports are obtained and distributed.
This step represents the meat and potatoes of the value study. The team attempts to determine the functions the project serves. Functions come in two forms:
- Primary functions are those that represent the reason for the project’s existence, for example, a building project might have adequate plumbing as a primary function.
- Secondary functions are those that the project serves without being core to the project. For example, a building project might have as a secondary function maintaining the view of the neighboring building.
The functions are described in verb/noun pairs, such as “supply water to all suites,” or “Maintain view of adjacent building.” For a project like this, the team should come up with 10 – 15 functions. You might be surprised how many secondary functions exist for most projects. Multiple subject matter experts would be ideal, but if you are brainstorming them yourself, just make sure you are careful and methodical about it.
The team should also identify value-mismatched functions to focus the improvements on.
This phase represents the generation of improvement ideas. The team develops alternative ways that the project can perform the functions that have been identified. At this step, the functions are looked at individually and each one gets a list of alternative ways to perform the function. There is no judging between the importance of the various functions.
At this stage, a priority is given to each project improvement idea. The ideas are discussed and potential costs are determined. Once the risk-reward profile of each idea is itemized, the team has determined which ideas are worth implementing into the project or feature.
In my home town, there was a pedestrian bridge built a few years ago which was originally designed for emergency vehicles. This is standard practice for the engineers who design bridges of this type, but the value study identified that emergency vehicle passage was not needed. Also, another major outcome of this value study was to change the design to an aesthetic, curved bridge because it was in a prominent location. The redesign of the bridge cost some money but this was more than made up by the cost of the bridge construction, and it looked better.
Once the value improvement options have been whittled down to the ones that make sense, the value engineering team develop the options to the point of passing them back to the original project team. They must be clearly written and explained so that the project owner and stakeholders can understand how it benefits the project and act on it. Any potential negative factors are identified. Potential costs and cost savings are itemized.
This last phase represents the presentation of the alternatives to the project owner, project manager, and other stakeholders. Sometimes you need to use the best salesperson to do the presenting because the stakeholders may have had other ideas in mind, or innovation scares them.
Some typical products of a value study are a briefing document, risk analysis, present worth analysis, advantages vs. disadvantages, etc.
Have you ever performed a value study? Let us know how it went and what your experience was, in the comments below.