The Psychology of Quality and More
Value Analysis: How to do it
How to do it
Note that external customers are usually more important than internal customers, and that seniority does not necessarily equate with priority. Ask, 'What do they do with it?', 'What would they do without it?'. Thus a customer's preference for a product feature should be more important than the opinion of a senior designer.
The best way of finding basic functions is usually to ask the customer. Another possible approach is to observe them in action. Consulting specifications may be appropriate, but is based on the possibly false assumption that these are correct.
Find the real basic functions by repeatedly asking 'Why?' the item is required until answers can no longer be found. For example, the function of a teenager's dress might be 'to look good'. Asking 'Why?' results in the more basic function of 'attract attention of opposite sex'.
Differentiate between aesthetic functions and use functions. Aesthetic functions are associated with feelings, but serve no other practical purpose, for example 'elegant shape' or 'pleasant service manner'. Use functions describe how the item is used, for example 'cutting paper' or 'smoothing wood'. Basic functions may be aesthetic or use functions.
Describe functions with verb-noun combinations, such as 'cut' and 'wire' in a clear phrase or sentence. Where possible include information that will enable it to be measured, as this will allow improvements to be identified. For example, 'hand-cut mild steel wire of at least 4mm diameter'.
This may be helped by asking 'How?'. For example, where the basic function of a bottle is to 'contain liquid', a secondary function may be to 'be strong', as this will contribute towards the bottle continuing to contain the liquid, even if it is dropped.
This is not always easy and a degree of estimation is often required. The task can be eased by comparing functions with one another or with value figures that have been used in the past. If possible, use actual customer preferences.
A manufactured item may benefit from analysis of both materials and process, as this will make costing in step 7 easier, and may also help with determining where value is and is not being added.
For complex systems, limit the depth to which it is broken down in order to keep the overall analysis to a manageable level. If necessary, separate Value Analyses may be performed on individual sub-components.
Costs and components may be matched by using a table, such as below.
Fig. 1. Components and Costs
Matching functions and components may be done with a table, as in Fig. 2.
Fig. 2. Function and Value
Also look for different ways of satisfying the basic functions, even if it means rejecting the current approach and starting again with a clean drawing board. This requires the product or process to be 'mentally destroyed' and then rebuilt anew.
It may also be worthwhile to investigate new technologies that can be used to increase the value of functions or reduce the cost of components.
And the big