What exactly is value? A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) -- Fifth Edition suggests value is a concept unique to each organization and encompasses the total sum of all tangible and intangible value elements.
Determining the tangible ones is relatively straightforward and can easily be reduced to a financial return. More difficult is understanding the intangible value elements the project can create -- and identifying low-cost options with the potential to create massive intangible value by creating favorable outcomes in the minds of stakeholders.
One simple example is the practice of cutting small viewing windows in construction site fences. The cost is minimal, but the practice delivers value through improved safety because passers-by don't need to stand near the gate to see what's going on. There's also the public relations value of letting the public see the actual progress of the work.
The challenge is finding and tracking these valuable intangibles, bearing in mind most of the value will be created in the minds of various stakeholders. One useful tool is consultant Edward de Bono's Six Value Medals:
Based on those, we can perform a "value scan" when determining courses of action within the project and prioritize actions to achieve the values that matter most.
Take a simple example. The last office refit covered up a duct in the wall of the CEO's new office. Now your project has to rip the sidewall out to access the duct and upgrade the cabling. Where's the extra value? Some possible medal ideas include:
There are probably other possibilities as well depending on the actual project. How do you assess the value of your project to your stakeholder community?