Value Engineering is a systematic and organized procedural decision-making process. It has been used in almost any kind of application. It helps people creatively generate alternatives to secure essential functions at the greatest worth as opposed to costs. This is referred to as value. It is usually applied in a team setting, but that is not a requirement. It uses a job plan, is function based, and requires a product be generated as a result of the study (success only). It is also known as Value Analysis, Value Management, Value Planning, and a host of other names. With all its names, it almost has an identity crisis (see dictionary if desired).
A key component of the Value Engineering process (value process) is its use of a carefully crafted and thoroughly tested job plan. Adherence to the job plan focuses efforts on its specific decision process: that contains the right kind of emphasis, timing, and elements to secure a high quality product. The job plan and its sub-elements does this by highlighting and focusing everyone on the involved issues, essential needs, criteria, problems, objectives, and concerns. The eight-step job plan phases are displayed below.
1. Selection Phase
2. Information Phase
3. Creativity Phase
4. Analysis Phase
5. Development Phase
6. Presentation Phase
7. Implementation Phase
8. Verification Phase
The Value Engineering purpose is to ensure that only concepts that have the highest potential for values are ultimately presented and used. The job plan helps avoid decision errors by being very procedural. It is designed to overcome such human limitations such as needing repetition of 130 times before something will become habit, and natural human restrictions such as the ability to keep only three to five items in the forefront of our mind.
Although there are many job plans promoted, each has the same basic elements. They mainly differ in terminology or emphasis placed upon the steps. Therefore, there are job plans that are six-step, eight-step, ten-step, and so on.
One of the most unique features of Value Engineering is its use of functions and a function-logic process to describe needs, purposes, and ramifications. In addition to its many other benefits, the use of function-logic removes people from many of their preconceived biases. This, and a common understanding, are obtained through the use of two word functions (active verb, measurable-noun descriptors) and placing those functions in a decision-logic diagram. This powerful combination helps remove people from the “I want” position to the basic needs involved. It also helps people see what parts of their decisions rely on critical features, and where decisions are requiring substantial support to maintain them (potential value-mismatches, AKA potential value opportunities).
Every step of the process is geared toward obtaining a result that increases the ROI (return on investment) or value for the client (ourselves, our employer, etc.). As a result, one or more products (recommendations) are always generated in some form. These are presented in both verbal and written forms for use and future reference. That way, you have a record of the results and a series of “fall back” positions to use as your project progresses. A bit of a nag here, if you don’t get a written report from a professional, fire them, and let us know so we can let others know. That’s NOT professional.
Where Did It Come From?
The process is continually evolving and improving. If you take a course in it 10 years ago and go to another, you will see advances in technique and process improvements. (If you don’t, let us know so we can let others know.) The full history of the process is more than 50-years in length. Accordingly, we won’t go through all that here. However, you might like to know that it originated as a result of the efforts of Larry Miles. Mr. Miles is considered the “father” of Value Engineering. An engineer by training, during World War II (1943), he was charged with procuring material for General Electric (GE) manufacturing products that had a comparatively low military priority. Larry quickly found that he would not be able to obtain the parts he needed through traditional methods. As a result, he began specifying the material needed in terms of their function and criteria. (For example: the required product to be provided must translate a rotational force into a lateral force. It must be able to withstand these stresses, fit within the area allowed, and connect to these other parts.) Through this functional mechanism, he was able to obtain the results and parts he needed.
The process was continuously improved by Mr. Miles and later, GE formed a group for the process which also improved it. By the 1950’s, lots of companies and some parts of governments were using it and the ball really got to rolling. Several organizations have been formed to help people learn the process, monitor it, and set standards.
The process generated by Mr. Miles and the General Electric department he headed created the basic structure for the process that has survived to this day. However, we stress that continuous improvement is an integral part of the Value Engineering. Accordingly, every year, improvements are shared by Value Engineering professionals in >various papers and presentations. This site was developed for this purpose too.
There is a large amount of information available about Value Engineering online. The largest and most comprehensive site is value-engineering.com which also has web links to many other sites with even more information. Many organizations have a large site too with copies of some of >proceedings or papers from conferences or other issues (is that a great resource or what). If you would like to obtain more benefits from one of the professional groups, you should join their membership too.