IPMA International Project Management Association
22 March 2021 / 10:00

Project value proposition designer: Is such a role needed in PM?

Value creation is the core business of project-based entities.  Projects start with an objective to create a unique outcome. However, success of a unique outcome is heavily dependent on whether the team working on the project is able to design and construct value into the outcome. What it means is that just constructing the outcome is not enough, but it has to have value for the client.

Moreover, a plethora of statistics on success and value delivery rates raise questions about the value created by projects (read some statistics here: https://financesonline.com/35-essential-project-management-statistics-analysis-of-trends-data-and-market-share/).

To overcome some of the challenges as pointed out in statistics, project organizations can do a number of things, such as skills development, process improvements, the introduction of new techniques and methodologies, and having a dedicated person with a role to ensure value is delivered to the client. While the job role of ‘Value Proposition Officer’ is prevalent in some professional domains, it seems not much thought has been given to having the role of ‘Project value proposition designer’ for project management.

This raises the question: Do we need a ‘Project Value Proposition Designer’ role within projects?

Before we answer, first we define it. A ‘Project Value Proposition Designer’ is an individual with a dedicated assignment to 1) develop an understanding of value to be delivered by the project and communicate the same to all relevant stakeholders, 2) help design and integration of value into project outcome, and 3) ensure delivery of value by guiding and working with all relevant stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle.

Now to answer the question, below we have examined some of the responsibilities that a ‘Project Value Proposition Designer’ can assume and things that s/he can do. We have also looked into the benefits of having such a role within a project setup. Needless to say, the discussion is introductory in nature aimed at building some early thoughts, and thus should not be considered conclusive or exhaustive.

Proposed roles and responsibilities of Project Value Proposition Designer (PVPD)

  • Help develop value-sketch and benchmarks

One of the key mandates of PVPD will be to help develop an understanding of the scope of the value to be created by the project. PVPD will be required to have communications with all relevant stakeholders to come up with a well-articulated description and explanation of the value required to be delivered as part of the outcome of the project.

PVPD could do a number of things including (but not limited to): 1) interact with stakeholders at the requirements gathering stage to develop a project value-sketch and benchmarks; 2) build a vision of value from requirement documentation; 3) draw-up a value proposition description in consultation with the project design team(s), consultants and project staff; 4) finalize a value proposition description in consultation with all relevant stakeholders; 5) lead and direct change management activities in relation to value proposition throughout the project lifecycle, and 6) keep value proposition documentation fully updated and relevant for value sign-off at the time of output-delivery.

These activities will contribute to setting up benchmarks and provide a blueprint of actions to be taken by project staff to construct and deliver value to the client.

  • Value planning

PVPD will be required to lead the planning of value delivery. That means building an understanding of resources, time, commitments, and tasks needed to be done to ensure value delivery. For instance, if a project decides to use the latest technology to create value for the client, then planning will be needed for procurement of technology, hiring of people with the right skills to help integrate the latest technology, and having the infrastructure and facilities to build the output with new technology. Of course, there will be people within projects (e.g. HR and Procurement) who could perform the above-mentioned tasks but having PVPD will help streamline the focus of efforts to ensure that the value-driving tasks are performed with diligence, attention, and priority.

As part of value planning, PVPD will also be required to plan how change management of value will be handled. Also, PVPD will need to plan for working with the change management board/team(s) for processing change requests related to value-driving tasks.

  • Design value maps showing value integration points

PVPD will be required to identify value integration points. These points can be related to the planning, design, execution, control, and handover stages. The focus will be on the planning and designing stages, so that value can be integrated into the product or service design.

Designing of value map will involve identifying the precise tasks that require value integration. For example, for a smartphone project, PVPD will focus on identifying the value-adding tasks potentially related to the design of some key components including display, battery, memory, and storage, sensors, modems, and camera, to mention a few.

Design of value maps showing value integration points will help project staff pay attention to value-driving elements and activities, thereby ensuring that value is delivered to the client.

  • Value verification order and criteria

One of the key mandates of PVPD will be to decide the process steps for ‘how value verification will be conducted?’ What will be the criteria for measuring the level of value created? Who will be involved in measuring value? Who will certify that the desired value creation benchmarks have been achieved?

Additionally, key dates for value verification need to be determined and communicated to relevant stakeholders and all these tasks need to be managed by PVPD.

  • Value support post-project

PVPD will also be expected to provide post-project support in relation to value-driving elements. The support could be in the form of coordinating troubleshooting, finding people with specific technical knowledge who could support project launch and further development, and linking up clients with avenues of opportunities in the market.

Benefits of installing a Project Value Proposition Designer role

  • The client will get an improved outcome

The client will be the main beneficiary of having PVPD in a project team. Having PVPD is expected to help provide a value-bundled output to the client. By providing a value-bundled output to the client, the project organization will achieve improved client satisfaction and thus value multiplies.

The client will also benefit as they will have a channel in the form of a PVPD role to communicate the value proposition that they desire to achieve from the output of the project. By being able to communicate the desired value proposition using PVPD as a conduit, there will be an improved likelihood of the client achieving the value. Having PVPD will also improve the chances of integration of value in the output needed by the client.

  • Project organization will have improved value focus

The role of PVPD will provide an improved value focus to project organizations. They will have a better understanding of the value desired by the client. Such an understanding will help them integrated value into the project deliverables.

Having PVPD in the project team could help reduce risks and improve quality as well. Project organizations are likely able to reduce costs and eliminate waste due to having an improved understanding of value.

  • Repeat business

The delivery of value to the client will create a positive long-term relationship. Therefore, project organization can expect repeat business. PVPD will be a crucial factor, serving as a value-dispensing mechanism between client and project organization. The linkage will help keep both parties in a stable relationship as clients will be happy that they received value and the project organization will be happy that they delivered value.

  • Less project failure

Projects are investments of dollars, time, and resources. Hence, a client investing in a project expects a positive return on their investments. If the client is unable to recoup their investment in the project, then the project could be considered to have failed regardless of it was delivered within time and budget estimates.

Therefore, the creation of value for the client is a critical consideration for project success. PVPD can play an important role in value delivery and improve the chances of value creation for the client. Such a scenario means less project failures.

  • Morale boost

The role played by PVPD is expected to improve client satisfaction and overall project success rates, which in turn is expected to boost the morale of people working on projects. As projects are adhoc entities, therefore, project success will help improve linkages and bonds among the people coming from different functions into the project. Relationships developed through the process will positively influence future projects and the creation of value for the client.

Value creation is a fundamental activity for both, project and non-project-based organizations. However, given the ad-hoc nature of project-based organizations and the burden of expectations that they carry, the creation of value is a given thing (that must be achieved).

Despite the importance, projects often fail to deliver value resulting in losses to clients. As such, it is imperative that more attention is paid to finding ways and means to deliver value to the clients.

Given the above, we have proposed having a Project Value Proposition Designer (PVPD) role in projects with dedicated responsibilities to plan, design, and guide integration of value into the project deliverables. To help further discourse on the subject, we have proposed an initial sketch of the tasks that PVPD needs to perform and also highlighted some benefits of having PVPD.

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Author of this post

Jiwat is a Professor in Project Management. He has considerable experience of working internationally in diverse cultures and business environments.

Jiwat is currently serving on the Editorial Board of International Journal of Project Management.

Jiwat actively contributes to project management community. His work has been published in top scientific journals and Four of his published papers have remained in Top25 most downloaded papers. Additionally, two of his papers have been ranked as the Most Cited article published since 2012. More recently, he has published a number of articles on some of the issues confronting project management in various industry based outlets.