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The Foundation of Value: Function Analysis in Value Methodology

by Nyra

Value Methodology (VM), is an indispensable tool for refining projects, products and processes. It roots its tenets in grasping the core value of various components. The concept of ‘value’ is vital in these scenarios, impacting not just the economic and performance aspects, but also guiding the overall effectiveness and longevity of an initiative.

At the heart of Value Engineering (VM) lies Function Analysis, an intensive process that breaks down a product, service, or system to clearly identify its primary functions. This ensures they are achieved in the most cost-effective manner. This meticulous analysis is essential in value engineering, establishing a foundation to understand and enhance the inherent value of any project.

A Journey from World War II to Holistic Value

The origins of VM trace back to the World War II era when resources were scarce and there was a pressing need to optimize processes and materials. It was during this period that key pioneers, most notably Lawrence D. Miles of General Electric, championed the approach. Miles, along with other visionaries, worked on substituting materials without compromising on quality or functionality, effectively laying the foundation of what we recognize today as VM. Over the decades, the principles of VM have evolved, adapting to the changing landscape of industries and technology. What began as a method primarily to conserve resources and cut costs, gradually expanded its horizon, integrating innovation, functionality, and sustainability. Today’s VM is a more holistic approach, addressing not just cost-effectiveness, but also emphasizing the overall value proposition, making it an integral part of modern project management and product development.

Understanding Value

At its essence, “value” is described as the balance between function and cost, suggesting that value amplifies when we either enhance the function of an item or service or diminish its cost. This definition aligns closely with the value methodology per SAVE International standards. Yet, grasping the true nuance of value is a complex task. Its interpretation is shaped by a spectrum of influences including societal norms, personal biases, and prevailing market trends. While tangible aspects like production expenses and product longevity play a part, the intangible dimensions, such as cultural relevance or brand equity, can’t be sidelined. It’s crucial to recognize that value isn’t absolute but a comparative metric. A product or service that’s highly valued in one setting or by a certain individual might be perceived differently elsewhere. This inherent relativity ensures that value remains a fluid notion, demanding continual re-evaluation in diverse contexts.

Principles of Function Analysis

In the realm of Value Methodology, a function defines what a product or service is intended to achieve, typically articulated in action-means format. Distinguishing between types of functions, basic functions describe the primary purpose of a product or process, whereas secondary functions, though supportive, are not the main reasons the product or process exists but enhance its performance or appeal. The concept of function-cost worth then delves into the relationship between the function’s value and its associated cost. This analysis assesses if the cost aligned with a specific function is justified by its worth, providing a foundation for identifying areas of potential improvement or cost reduction without compromising the desired outcome.

Key Phases in Function Analysis

Function Analysis System Technique (FAST) is a structured approach utilized within the broader domain of VM to dissect processes or products in terms of their functions, allowing for enhanced understanding and potential optimization. Commencing with a thorough understanding of the project, product or process, the Function Analysis process unfolds in distinct yet interlinked phases:

  • Identify Functions: This is the foundational step, where every conceivable function of the subject, be it a product or process, is recognized and listed. In order to fully identify functions, the Function Identification Worksheet can be an invaluable resource. This organized form completely analyzes the topic (project, product, or process), which helps to establish all implicit functions. In order to make sure that no role is missed, this phase also encourages the use of brainstorming, interviews, checks, and shops.
  • Classify Functions: Once identified, functions are then categorized into primary (basic) and secondary functions. The primary functions denote the core purpose, while secondary functions supplement or enhance the primary functions. In this stage, the FAST diagram is a crucial tool that makes it easier to categorize functions based on how important they are to the main goal. The FAST technique may be rounded up in additional ways such as decision matrices, rating exercises, and expert opinion.
  • Establish Function Worth: This phase determines the “worth” or value of each function in relation to its cost. By determining the ideal cost for delivering a specific function, one can pinpoint areas that might be overpriced or underpriced. The core of VM is determining the worth or value of each function in proportion to its cost. Value indexing and other cost-worth analysis techniques are typically used to evaluate each function’s cost-effectiveness. It is also possible to quantify the value of functions in accomplishing project, product, or process objectives using the fundamentals of a VM.

Collectively, these steps enable a detailed and systematic approach to enhancing value, ensuring that the project, product or process is optimized for both functionality and cost-effectiveness.

Importance of Function Analysis in VM:

Function Analysis is the linchpin in VM. By meticulously dissecting a project, product or process into its constituent functions, VM practitioners can pinpoint areas of improvement and optimization. This analytical approach aids in maximizing value, ensuring that every component or step of a process is both necessary and cost-effective. By identifying redundancies, inefficiencies, and areas of potential enhancement, Function Analysis serves as the backbone of informed decision-making in VM.

Case Studies: Application of Function Analysis in VM:

Across diverse sectors, from manufacturing to IT, the application of Function Analysis has yielded remarkable results. For instance, in the automobile industry, Function Analysis led to the redesign of specific car parts, resulting in lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles without sacrificing safety or performance. Another instance in software development witnessed developers using Function Analysis to streamline code, making applications run faster while using fewer resources. These case studies exemplify the transformative power of Function Analysis in VM, showcasing tangible improvements in both quality and cost-effectiveness.

Challenges and Limitations:

While Function Analysis in VM offers numerous benefits, it’s not without its challenges. Firstly, the process demands a comprehensive understanding of the project, product or process under analysis, which might not always be straightforward. There can also be resistance to change, especially when recommended alterations impact longstanding practices or designs. Furthermore, while Function Analysis emphasizes cost-effectiveness, striking the right balance between cost-saving and maintaining quality can be intricate.

The Future of Function Analysis in VM:

As industries evolve and technologies advance, the role of Function Analysis in VM is set to become even more pivotal. With the rise of data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, future Function Analysis might integrate these tools to provide even more precise and actionable insights. The potential for real-time analysis and the continuous evolution of projects, products and processes can redefine the landscape of VM. Embracing these technologies and methodologies will ensure that VM remains at the forefront of driving value in an ever-changing global market.

Conclusion

Function Analysis stands as a cornerstone in the realm of VM, offering a lens through which the intrinsic value of projects, products and processes can be assessed and optimized. Its pivotal role in enhancing quality, cost-effectiveness, and overall efficacy underscores its undeniable importance. As industries evolve and the demands of the global market shift, it is incumbent upon professionals to proactively integrate Function Analysis into their VM strategies. By doing so, they not only future-proof their endeavors but also elevate their potential to deliver unparalleled value in an increasingly competitive landscape.

# Author Profile

Date- 22-09-2023

Full Name: Meshari Al-Ebrahim

Email: meshari18@ymail.com

## About Me

I am Meshari Al-Ebrahim, an author and engineer hailing from Kuwait. My educational background is in Mechanical Engineering, and I’m also well-versed in the field of Renewable Energy. In addition, I have a profound and abiding interest in Value Methodology (VM), as it represents a structured approach to optimizing and enhancing the value of projects, products and processes, aligning perfectly with my commitment to efficiency and innovation.

## Contact

For interviews, lecturing, or collaboration opportunities, please reach out to me at meshari18@ymail.com

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