What is Value Engineering

Value Engineering is an organized study of functions to satisfy the user's needs, with a quality product at the lowest life cycle cost through applied creativity. The study is conducted by a multi-disciplinary team that provides an independent look at the project. Value Engineering is directed at reducing cost, while maintaining or improving quality, maintainability, performance, and reliability. In addition, emphasis is placed on preserving unique and important ecological, aesthetic, and cultural values of our national heritage in accord with the general environmental objectives of the Corps of Engineers.

Traditionally, Value Engineering in the Corps of Engineers is applied to proposed construction projects. This includes Civil Works, Military, Environmental, Hazardous Waste, as well as Operations and Maintenance projects. However, the methodology and job plan can be applied to most any situation.

The Value Engineering Job Plan

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The Value Engineering job plan is a systematic procedure for implementing all the necessary tasks associated with the VE study. Adherence to a definite job plan is essential to achieve the best value alternatives. The plan is a variation of a scientific method usually used for solving routine engineering problems. The VE job plan provides:

  • A vehicle to carry the study from inception to conclusion
  • A convenient means for maintaining a written record of the effort as it progresses
  • Assurance that consideration has been given to facts that may have been overlooked in the creation of the design
  • A logical separation of the study into units that can be planned, scheduled, budgeted, and assessed

Several versions of the VE job plan are described in current Value Engineering literature. The New York District utilizes a five-phase job plan that includes Information collecting, Speculation, Analysis, Development, and Presentation. These five phases are part of a continuous process and tend to overlap or merge.

Most Value Engineering studies are conducted over one week. A typical agenda would include:

  • Monday: Visit site and begin Information collecting Phase
  • Tuesday: Continue Information Phase
  • Wednesday: Continue Information Phase; initiate Speculation and Analysis Phases
  • Thursday: Initiate Development Phase
  • Friday: Continue Development Phase

The final VE study report is typically completed within two weeks after the above study schedule.

What are the five phases of the job plan?

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Here is a brief look at each phase and the key questions that are asked:

Phase I: Information collecting 
    - What is the project? 
    - What does it do? 
    - What are the basic and secondary functions?

Phase II: Speculation 
    - What else will do the job [perform the same basic function]?

Phase III: Analysis 
    - What does each cost? 
    - Will each perform the same basic function?

Phase IV: Development 
    - Will it work? 
    - Will it meet all of the requirements? 
    - What do I do now? 
    - What is needed? 
    - Who has to approve it? 
    - What are the implementation problems? 
    - What are the costs? 
    - What are the savings?

Phase V: Presentation
Meeting held with all decision makers to discuss each of the proposals contained in the Value Engineering report, to see which proposals can be implemented into the project.

Should I perform a Value Engineering study?

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The following decision tree may assist you in initially evaluating the need for performing a value engineering study on your proposed project or process. It should be noted that OMB Circular A-131 requires that all Federal expenditures in excess of $1 million have a Value Engineering study completed. This includes proposed construction or Operations and Maintenance projects as well as procurements. In addition, PL 104-106 requires that all Federal agencies have a Value Engineering presence and utilize VE procedures. The earlier Value Engineering is employed in a project, the sooner savings can be realized.