Any discussion of value engineering (V.E.) is likely to produce a rush of criticisms of the process if you work in an architecture or engineering practice. The architects and engineers are likely to recall bad experiences when V.E. was started late, approaching or following the completion of construction documents, at a time when the project schedule did not allow sufficient time to fully consider consequences and implement V.E. changes in a comprehensive and well coordinated manner. They are likely to complain that “V.E. stripped the value out of the project.”
A better approach to V.E. is to start it earlier, when material and system decisions are being formulated and before a lot of time is invested in developing applicable details and specifications.
The Whole Building Design Guide (http://www.wbdg.org/resources/value_engineering.php) offers an excellent synopsis of V.E. and a clear picture of the advantages of doing it earlier in the life of a project.