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Projects-to-Products: What Is Value?

By Brian Nathanson posted Oct 09, 2019 05:20 PM

One of the most common refrains heard in organizations making the projects-to-products transition is that they are more focused than ever on business value. In fact, some more "enthusiastic" souls seem to be obsessed with this concept -- we need to maximize business value -- but is that really a concrete concept that we can all agree upon? This post takes a look at the definition of value.

According to Merriam-Webster, value is the "relative worth, utility, or importance" of something. The interesting word here is "relative" as it implies that value can only be measured in relation to something else. Something can be more valuable or less valuable than an alternative, but it is difficult to articulate the absolute value of anything.

Put another way, something has value until something else more valuable comes along. Once that happens, the former thing loses value in favor of the latter thing.

In the Clarity PPM ranks, we've found it useful to replace the word "relative" with "perceived". Since the term "relative" implies comparisons, a lot of the evaulation of worth will depend on who is doing the comparing -- that is, the perception of the judge involved.

Thus, we have the following working definition of value: the perceived 
worth, utility, or importance of something.

This foundational definition will be important as we explore how to set standards to measure value within our organizations.

Like this definition? Don't like it? Have suggestions for improvement? Have an alternative you prefer? Questioning why this point is even relevant? Hit us up in the comments.