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MVP LogoGeoff is a SharePoint MVP, and likes to be known as a “Hands on” Technical Evangelist and works as a SharePoint Solutions Architect. He has published many articles, guides and books about SharePoint. With over 25 years of experience in information systems, he is a Fellow of the Institute of the Analysts and Programmers, a Fellow of the Institute of Computer Technology, a Member of the Institute of Management Information Systems, a Prince 2 Practitioner, with MCDST, MCSD, MCTS, MCITP Microsoft certifications and is M.O.S (Microsoft Office Specialist) Certified.

Geoff specialises in SharePoint Architecture, Design, Implementation and Automation. He also focuses on Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, Service Delivery, Migration, Network Architecture, Software Management and Development – all in the land of SharePoint. When not playing the saxophone, riding horses or even flying, Geoff enjoys writing articles, speaking at conferences and aiding organisations get SharePoint – properly.

Blog: http://www.sharepointgeoff.com  Twitter: @geoffeve

As a SharePoint specialist charged with building SharePoint solutions for a client, you may have heard statements like these:

  • 'I need a good return on my investment of SharePoint'
  • 'I am paying a lot of money for SharePoint and people, what is it there to do?'
  • 'I need to know what to do and what not to do with this technology'

To answer these questions, and to optimise the decision making when building SharePoint Solution and ensure quality is defined you could use the Value Management methods described in this article.

According to the Business Dictionary Value Management is:

"The Application of value analysis (value engineering) techniques for improvement of business effectiveness and efficiency."

And, if you want to get really scientific about it, try this site: http://www.value-eng.org/pdf_docs/monographs/FAbasics.pdf

The very same methods described can be applied to SharePoint when analysing system requirements with the business. The objective when delivering any SharePoint solution is to optimise the use of the platform and its resources. Whilst much of determine the best solution to go for in terms of establishing effective decision making and control, managing value focuses on selecting the best option. This is irrespective of whether the plan is to build a SharePoint farm, determine the best site taxonomy, or building a site solution for a client to ensure user productivity is at its optimum - in other words, optimising the solution to deliver value for money.

From experiences in the field, I've witnessed the results of SharePoint solutions put in place because (a) there were licences to be used and money to be spent (b) there was no alternatives addressed and the product was rush deployed (c) no objectives were defined so that what was put in place did not meet client need.

Building a solution to meet client requirements means carrying out requirements gathering, usage, design and agreement on constraints. Whilst analysing and detailing requirements, alternative solutions are identified and assessed before agreeing the final framework of the solution to put in place. For the technically minded, they may refer to this practice as Solutions Architecture - in reality, it is simply managing the value of the solution - Value Management.

There are two key analytical methods that can be used:

  • Value Management - selecting the solution that provides best value for money.
  • Value Engineering - optimising the value for money delivered by a chosen solution.

Value Management can be used during the initial investigation stage to test the business requirements and at the start of the feasibility and definition stage to assess alternative options. It is primarily concerned with ensuring that the needs concerning a solution is clearly defined, and that those involved know what is going to be produced. The primary objective is to create an understanding, and a common one, that covers the design problem, identifies the design objectives, and gets a group consensus about various courses of action. By working with Value Management techniques in SharePoint, it will help falsify a notion for both sides (the technical camp and business camp involved) that deploying SharePoint is a ‘click here, then click that and it’s done’ exercise, and bring clarity to how the SharePoint solution should involve and why the SharePoint solution should be built.

Value management is a key part of helping you determine a Return of Investment (ROI). Remember that question at the top of this guide? ‘'I am paying a lot of money for SharePoint and people, what is it there to do?'’ Value Management gives you that answer when applied to a specific solution that is going to be designed and delivered. It will inspire confidence that (a) the business understands and agrees the decisions made to deliver the solution and that (b) the technical requirements of the components being delivered by SharePoint can meet those requirements.

  • It will increase your understanding of the customer’s challenges
  • It will help establish solution requirements based on the customer’s business drivers and infrastructure maturity capabilities
  • It will help remove technical objections, obstacles, and risks (real and perceived) that may keep the customer from deploying SharePoint.
  • It will transform the customer’s business challenges into design decisions that result in a value-based proposed solution.

Steps to apply Value Management to your SharePoint solutions:

  1. Workshop the ideas
  2. Assign importance weightings
  3. Evaluate each option
  4. Assess Value
  5. Check sensitivity

More information on how to do this is detailed in this blog post:http://www.sharepointgeoff.com/value-management-in-sharepoint-part-2-2/

Applying Value Engineering techniques to SharePoint solutions

Value Engineering is all about how the decisions we make are based on meeting objectives and how they can be structured in an easily understood fashion.

Typically, the decisions we make to meet any SharePoint objective can be boiled down to a number of situations.

  • The business requires SharePoint to meet a specific business objective which in turn will make their staff more productive in managing and creating content.
  • The business has a large number of requirements using SharePoint, but it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees in determining what should be done first.
  • The business has a clear set of requirements using SharePoint, but it’s difficult to see what feature will provide the best functionality.

For each of these scenarios, you could apply Value Engineering to help analyse, record and prioritise requirements.

The objective of Value Engineering is to refine a selected solution to optimise the value for money. This can be achieved by:

  • Removing unnecessary functionality and cost
  • Increasing functionality at no extra cost
  • Maintaining functionality at lower cost

If you work in delivering SharePoint solutions, whether you are an analyst, administrator, architect or project/programme manager you will continually have to make decisions user experience, adoption, sustainability, availability and configuration management of the platform.

Value Engineering helps by providing a method to structure these decisions, to plant priorities and thereby determine which alternatives and solutions best optimises the decisions you take. As said earlier, the client gains from this since there is a historical, audited approach and knows that the cost (and benefits) associated with each solutions agreed upon can be measured.

Steps to apply Value Management to your SharePoint solutions:

  1. The FAST Value Engineering method
  2. How to identify cost savings

More detail on how to follow these steps are in this blog post: http://www.sharepointgeoff.com/value-engineering-in-sharepoint-part-3/

 

Critical Success factors:

  • Senior management support and input - you need to make sure that at your workshops that decision makers are there to identify the priority of the objectives.
  • Appropriate level of management so that the results are not undermined.
  • Effective facilitation - make sure you have the right people to provide knowledge, ensure that you have a strong SharePoint specialist to answer queries and to help make decisions.
  • Sufficient information available - when looking at the alternatives, make sure you have the right information available that allows you to understand how the product meets requirements.

Demonstrating HOW something will be achieved and WHY it is going to be achieved is one of the most compelling ways in which as a SharePoint specialist can convince the client to understand why a decision to apply a feature, component or set of processes will help solve a business requirement. Particularly, it will also show where it will save capital, improve ROI and act as a measurement to demonstrate where decisions have been successful (or even unsuccessful) in the long run.

In conclusion, Value Engineering is vitally important in aiding your decision making so that you can optimise the required solution, and at the same time measure the cost and resources needed to deliver that solution.

As a SharePoint specialist, the key points to remember are:

  • Check the proposed functionality is really needed
  • Determine where the money is spent
  • Identify alternative approaches for high cost aspects
  • Test your assumptions

Useful Resources