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  • Writer's pictureStephen Morse

Value Engineering, SE Success

Value Engineering (VE) is one of the most important practices to have converged with Sales Engineering (SE) in the modern technology era.

VE has been around for a long time, and like its Japanese counterpart kaizen (改善), was originally targeted towards the value-driven design and continual improvement of hardware and physical goods.

In its transition and application to on-premise and SaaS software presales, it has been particularly powerful because it enriches the most important part of the SE technology selling process; the value proposition

My first exposure to Value Engineering was with @Tom Siebel at Siebel systems in the mid 1990's.  Siebel Systems created the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software category with the merging of SFA and CSS tools, and subsequently brought laser focus to value engineering, hiring MBAs from top schools to provide industry research and tailored business case and ROI/TCO illustrations to prospects.  

My second exposure VE was with SAP in the mid 2000s. With its unique 'outside-in' and 'Move the Needle' practices, they took (and continue to take) VE to deeper insight than I have seen in almost anywhere, and this has led naturally to their success with long term, enterprise-invested customers.

The move to SaaS in the early to mid 2000's heralded an evolution to Value Engineering principles around the cloud lifecycle, enforced by the need for subscription vendors to deliver continual value to their customers.

Without question the most developed (and innovative) SaaS Value Engineering programs to date has been's Ignite and Spark programs, which has expanded on traditional business cases tools to inspire companies to disrupt themselves and capture their own goals in a powerful story of the future. I love that a lot of the exercises in these workshops have been adapted from United Nations brainstorming frameworks. A big kudos to friends Simon Mulcahy, Josh Aranoff, Todd Janzen, Scott Jorgensen, Jesse Dailey, and Doug Landis who helped develop and launch this wildly successful program.

All of the other software companies that I have worked with and spoke to have had VE initiatives of varying degrees: Box's Value Assessment (BVA), Mixpanel's Project Spec, mParticle's Acceleration document (credit to Justin McManus), AppDynamics Value Realization Framework.

There is a direct correlation between a company's success and the focus they bring to bear on getting Value Engineering right.  In my opinion, VE (or at minimum a continual emphasis on value innovation) is not a nice to have, and is applicable to all technical selling strategies, from quick demos to Pilot-heavy to seed and grow.

If you haven't thought deeply or recently about your value proposition, and how you can engineer it for more impact, now is the time. A full section of the SELI Sales Engineering Leadership bootcamp is dedicated to examination of successful VE programs, and a workshop around ideating and evolving attendees' current value practices.

Creating lasting value for your customers will never go out of style, and nor will the companies who continually integrate these disciplines.

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