Value Program Office
Value Study Job Plan
Value Studies are based on the value method, a problem solving and decision making process. The value method is a systematic and organized way to develop and compare alternatives that will get the job done (provide all of the essential functions) with the greatest value (greatest efficiency, economy, quality, and the least delay). The Value Method produces recommendations, not decisions. Largely developed by Mr. Larry Miles in the mid 1940s, the Value Method is also commonly referred to as Value Analysis or Value Engineering.
Before using the value method to conduct a study, Reclamation managers responsible for the Value Program (VP) select programs, projects, systems, procedures, services or other activities for study that appear to have good potential for improvement. The criteria for selection comes partly from OMB and DOI policy, and partly from Reclamation policy.
The VP managers also select a team leader and team members to conduct the study (usually 5 to 7 individuals with relevant expertise). A baseline cost estimate and project schedule are also typically needed before the study. After the study topic and study team have been chosen, the study can begin. Reclamation uses a six-step Value Method "Job Plan".
1. Information Gathering, 2. Creativity, 3. Analysis, 4. Development, 5. Presentation, and 6. Implementation
These steps (by similar names) are widely used by Value Analysis/Value Engineering groups and by most problem solving techniques. The steps are briefly described below.
1. Information Gathering - A common sense first step for the team is to ask "What is the problem, really?"; "What needs to be changed or fixed?"; or "What is the item or service?". Working on the real or right problem is always a good start.
Once the problem has been probed, prodded, and properly identified, the team gathers all readily available and relevant information bearing on the problem, item or service. The team collects information on the major items, components, or key elements of the topic or project. The team also collects information on the features and costs of these components.
A particular strength of the Value Method isfunction analysis. The team defines items or components in terms of the basic and secondary functions each performs. The team also prepares a FAST (Functional Analysis System Technique) diagram, identifying the relationships among functions. Functional analysis encourages the team and prepares it to think in broad yet relevant terms.
2. Creativity - Most of us are professionals, keepers of specific and specialized knowledge. Decades of research and careers of experience have shown us what works, what is proven. What most of us have not practiced is thinking creatively. The study team deliberately prepares for and "brainstorms" to develop a large number of alternatives that could fulfill the needed functions identified earlier. The team goes well beyond consideration of common practices or habits. Often a number of clever, new or previously overlooked ideas arise that have real merit.
3. Analysis - After generating an extremely wide range of ideas, the team reviews the ideas, giving more careful consideration to how well the ideas address the basic and secondary functions. Often the ideas are evaluated against measurable criteria and ranked in a matrix. No matter how the ideas are evaluated, the comparison reveals the ideas with the highest apparent potential.
4. Development - The ideas with the "best" potential are now considered alternatives. The team develops these alternatives in sufficient detail to show the relative advantages and disadvantages of each and to present the alternatives as proposals to the "owners" of the program, project or system being studied.
5. Presentation - The team presents its findings and recommendations to the "owners" of the study topic. The presentation should allow for candid and critical discussion of the alternatives, how they were developed, what assumptions were made, the advantages and disadvantages the team has identified. Usually several comments made during the presentation are incorporated into a final report as corrections, clarifications, or additional information.
6. Implementation - The owner, users, client and other responsible parties determine which proposals will be accepted (in whole or in part) or rejected, and also estimate what savings, efficiencies, quality or timeliness benefits the study has identified.
When the savings portion of the study benefits are compared to the cost of the study, the benefit to cost ratio is often on the order of 10 or 20 to 1. This ratio often understates the real value of the study in that it does not account for the improvements in quality, performance or function that are not measured in dollars, and overlooks the repeatability of applying the accepted proposals to similar projects.