VA In Depth
Function Analysis Phase
What is Function Analysis?
Function Analysis is a technique used to identify and understand the needs of the project, product or service, (what does it do, what must it do). Function Analysis is an essential component of the Value Engineering/Value Analysis process.
In Function Analysis, functions are described in two- word Verb - Noun definitions that describe the needs of the project, product or service being examined. The two words used to describe a function include an active verb and a measurable noun. The measurable noun identifies something that can be described and quantified. Although the function of a project, product or service could be provided in a descriptive paragraph, a verb-noun definition ensures concise descriptions that focus on one function at a time.
For example, in the case of highway ditch, one of the functions of the ditch is to, "channel water". The word 'channel' is an active verb. The word 'water' is a measurable noun as the amount and type of "water" can be described and measured. If the highway ditch is also needed to "support habitat" the area of focus might change.
Why use Function Analysis?
Function Analysis supports creative problem solving by moving the focus away from the expected solution and placing the focus on the required performance or need.
Verb noun definitions enable the individual or team to clearly understand and agree on the actual wants and needs required of the project, product or service without reference to a specific solution. The use of two word descriptions of functions allows the team to communicate in a common language.
What is the Verb-Noun definition of a pencil?
A pencil may be used to make a list, sketch a diagram, or mark a board for cutting but what must the pencil do in each of these applications? What is the basic function of the pencil?
The verb-noun definition for the function of a pencil could be to “mark surface”. If the pencil does not “mark surface” it cannot achieve its basic purpose or function. The verb “mark” is an active verb and the noun “surface” is measurable and can be described.
How are Functions identified?
There are several techniques used to identify functions:
- Intuitive Research (Brainstorming)
- Environmental Analysis
- Sequential Analysis (Process mapping)
- Movements and Effort Analysis
Where can Function Analysis be used?
- Defining Project requirements.
- Identifying needs and purpose.
- Problem Solving.
- Defining and specifying requirements for services
- Project Planning with stakeholders (to reach common understanding of Project goals).
- Defining requirements for Information Technology Projects.
- Developing Performance Based Specifications
- Understanding how an existing activity, process, or solution addresses the needs of a project, service or product