But We Already Do It!

Sam Martin, PE, CVS


Abstract This is a excerpt from a discussion paper that answers a question that every professional in the field of the Value Method commonly receives. The paper strives to answer a common misconception that many understandably have about the Value Method. It points out that engineers do great work without the Value Method and can continue to do so. To do this they need a good decision process. The Value Method qualifies as one that has been tested and does not require painful lessons. It is also pointed out that nothing is so perfect that it couldn't be improved by a highly efficient process. Thus, when engineers use the Value Method, they can often do even better work and acheive greater success.

Lots of engineers say they do Value Engineering. This is rarely correct. Often, the statement that they "do Value Engineering" stems from a misunderstanding between the concept of the designer putting value in their engineering, and the act of performing Value Engineering.

Engineers almost always consider value in their decision activities. Many engineers rightly feel that value is a part of the definition of the word, "engineering." Indeed, Webster's dictionary defines it as: "The application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, machines, processes, and systems." (Emphasis added.)

While performing Value Engineering produces results similar to the above definition, it is different. Value Engineering is a specific use of the Value Method process. To obtain an optimum solution, the designer can apply the Value Method several times throughout the project as a highly efficient decision-making process. An independent group can add expertise and a fresh perspective to both the decision-making and the customer requested end product result, by applying Value Engineering to further increase the final product value. Unfortunately, usually only the later option (if any) takes place.

Good design engineers have a discovery and decision process that they follow. Often, they have learned their individual process through the school of "hard knocks." They use their decision process to obtain the product they understand is expected. Their process helps them find out: who is the client; who are the owners, users, and stakeholders; and what are the needs, wants, criteria, etcetera involved. Then, the engineer generates a design, using engineering principles, to obtain the apparent optimum product for the customer. Their decision process rarely, if ever, uses functions, function logic diagrams, or value-based comparative analysis methods, Occasionally, due to the failure to ask a question that no one dreamed would need to be asked, a key parameter affecting the customer's satisfaction with the product is missed.

The Value Method is a series of procedures performed in a specified sequence. It is a part of a decision process that, for more than 50-years, has been optimized by many people and application experiences. It does not require an individual to go through learning an individual process through the school of "hard knocks." It uses a function and logic approach that inspires people to ask all the key questions. This strongly reduces the potential that a key need or issue will be missed. The Method use of a value-based decision-making approach helps assure that resources (e.g., time, money, and expertise) are directed toward the solutions that have the highest potential for meeting the customer needs at the optimum cost. Further, the Method attempts to obtain the largest number of creative solutions to widen the potential for better value. When the process is complete, a design, using engineering principles and the results of the Value Engineering analyses, that obtains the apparent optimum product for the customer is generated.

These are some of the key features that differ from "putting value in your engineering" and "performing Value Engineering."



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