ImageHow do you decide someone is of value? If you buy a stock you determine it’s value by how much you can sell it for. But what if you buy something not quite so easy to sell? How much is a good night out with friends worth? How about the video of you child’s first solo performance in art or sports? How much is it worth if you help your company make better decisions?

These are the questions I get asked on a daily basis. Ok I dont get so many questions about personal life, but how do we value our work if it isn’t directly impacting revenue happens on a daily basis. I recently spoke to an employee of the government who, when I spoke of valuing architecture beyond revenue said, “Where have you been all my life?”

This is the most important part of learning to manage the value of architecture. Value is not cost savings, nor if we work for a non-profit or government is it revenue. How do you put a value on a piece of software finding a missing child? Even if we work for a non-profit how do you value a solution that enables better thinking in a sales team?

The answer is, of course, we invent ways of measuring it. We look at realistic comparisons and we come up with a numerical way of comparing them. What is the measure of helping citizens? The general unit of citizen good. Call it the CVU (citizen value unit). And how do we measure it when comparing one solution against another? If solution x will help so many people in one way and solution y will help so many people in another way, then all we have to do is give a weight to the help of solution x vs. solution y and multiply both by the number of people helped to get to a single unit measure. If you do that for all projects in a PMO, you will end up with a single rating system for how projects can be prioritized. It is not easy. The weighting will be difficult. But the system of measurement isn’t.

Now what do you do when you need to measure investing in a cloud computing solution against putting more social workers on the street?