What is TOP?

Value Delivery Management and Benefit Realisation Methodology

ValuePoint uses the TOP Value Equation, shown below, as the underlying approach to value delivery.  It is the motor that drives a value driven approach: Activities deliver Outcomes that enable Benefits that have measurable Value that you can track and manage as your project progresses. 

What is TOP?

TOP is learnable, teachable knowledge that enables everyone in an organisation - senior business leaders, business executives, operational staff and project & technical specialists – to define valuable projects that execute strategy and deliver the business results.

TOP comprises frameworks, principles, thinking processes, tools & techniques, which link strategy and portfolio execution to project delivery.

TOP was created by Jed Simms and Alexandra Chapman, who founded Totally Optimized Projects more than 25 years ago. TOP was developed from over 60 man-years of practical experience in major organizations, working with client staff at all levels to develop and refine its practical know-how.

TOP has won awards and accolades both in Australia, Europe and globally – Gartner cited TOP in the 2011 Cool Vendor awards as an “innovative industry game-changer” - and in our opinion it still is.

Desired Outcomes and Path Dependency – the core of TOP

TOP provides step-by-step thinking process to systematically answer the simple but essential questions to all successfull projects: 

“What are we are trying to achieve?”


“What does the future look like when it is working just right?”


TOP calls these Desired Outcomes and once you have carefully crafted these as Desired Outcome statements, you can then link these pieces of future together in an Outcomes Roadmap to show:


“What is the path dependent relationship between these outcomes?”

It is path dependency  that determines what is the best sequence or order to tackle the execution/ realisation process.

The following is a real-life example of an Outcomes Roadmap from a financial corporation wanting to deal with massive operational issues on one of their major customer facing applications.
Problems had been going on for years and at management level there was quite some uncertainty on how to approach the solution of the issues listed in the red box in a structured and efficient way. 
The road-map is the product of assembling all relevant parties from business, development, test and operation to one 3 hour Desired Business Outcomes workshop, providing management level with an overview of the extent of what it takes to solve these problems, but also overview of where to begin and proposed success criteria throughout the process.

(Click on the roadmap to enlarge it)  

What is the TOP Value Equation?


Many talk about Outcomes.


No one but TOP shows you how to systematically identify, maximize and define them.


The Value Equation has simple step-by-step processes to define:

  • Outcomes
  • Benefits
  • Value
  • Value Drivers
  • Change Activities  


By clearly defining what you are intending to achieve, you can then systematically answer:

“What is the value of this?”

and then

"How do we achieve it?”


That then enables you to track the project value through all execution phases to deliver the it.


The Value Equation is the core TOP framework on which all the other building blocks of TOP rest. Because:


  • When the business clearly defines the value and what they wish to achieve, project professionals can deliver more effectively. No more mind-reading or guessing.
  • When business executives and sponsors understand the Value Equation, they can choose how best to optimise the amount invested for the return delivered, that is to get more for less!
  • The Value Equation makes clear what the project intends to deliver and how to best sequence changes to deliver it.
  • The Value Equation enables tracking of Value as well as Cost through all the delivery phases and enable Value-based decisions to direct the project.


What are the other parts of TOP?


Once you have defined a Value Equation™ this enables you to:


  • Develop a value-based Business Case
  • Assess a project’s strategic contribution
  • Direct and lead the project through effective Project Governance


These are just some of the end-to-end components of TOP which can be found at TOP-Centers-of-Expertise


What do you need to be able to apply TOP?


We describe TOP as a thinking process and we call it TOP-Thinking. To apply TOP-Thinking to a strategy, project portfolio, business initiative or project, you simply need to bring your brain, something to write on, something to write with and someone to work with.


We don’t offer any software as we believe there are plenty of excellent software tools in the market place into which you can input and track the work products that TOP-Thinking produces.


What underpins TOP is a different philosophy


Rather than bring in outside gurus, heroes and experts, instead arm your own staff throughout your organisation with the skills they need - so that everyone can do an excellent job of defining and executing change and delivering real business value through projects. 

Your people have talents and care about the organisation. They live with and care about the results. They know what happens at the coalface and merely need the skills, processes and tools to make it happen.


What makes TOP different?


TOP is different because of its speed combined with the rigour of the thinking processes. People can learn and apply TOP and deliver insights, define complex projects or remediate challenged ones in a week or two where conventional approaches can take months.


To speed the learning of staff and the richness of thinking, TOP embeds and teaches ten techniques for accelerated learning. These techniques show people the natural journey to understanding and using how the brain learns and plans for the future  - Homo Prospectus -  and the stages of the journey, from ‘fuzzy”, to clear enough to get started, to finally the laser-like clarity which enables meticulous execution.


TOP is learnable and teachable knowledge


It changes the model for how specialist consultants can (and should) help. TOP is “anti-hero” and "anti-guru” and "anti consultants" of the conventional sort. We believe that external support should not borrow your watch to tell you the time.

Instead, we believe the role of TOP practitioners is to accelerate the organisation as the staff learn and apply TOP; to work alongside staff as they tackle and resolve a real business issue. Staff build their skills and capability as they deliver the results.


Who can use TOP?


  • Business leaders and C-level executives who need to define a strategy that is operational, executable and easy for the people on portfolio and operational levels to directly relate to.
  • Directors and managers who then need to execute the strategy and deliver the valuable projects and business results;
  • Project Sponsors and Steering committee members who must work together across the organisation to define the project business case and then steer the projects into the organisation;
  • Investment committee members and enterprise portfolio managers who must choose how to allocate investment capital to fund projects and determine the overall portfolio of projects to be delivered;
  • High performing PMs and Project Directors who want to deliver value to the business and need a better starting point than the unclear one most commonly given.
  • Managers and staff in the organisation who desire the knowledge, skills and expertise to improve their own working environment or lead their teams to do that.
  • Consultants and Consulting Practices who wish to work collaboratively with their clients get great results and who seek to have skills and tools to use with their clients and also transfer to them.


TOP changes the model of what the project delivers


TOP states the endpoint of a project should be a “working just right” operational business-as-usual environment and we distinguish this from the Turn-Key model inherited from construction project models by using a metaphor:


  • You want the “factory making bricks” – an outcome, not a “brick making factory” – a deliverable.


TOP states that a project should deliver an operational asset, working to the agreed level of performance; and this is defined in the business case as a series of carefully crafted “Desired Business Outcome Statements”.


How does TOP link to other methodologies and management ideas?


TOP does not replace project management methods such as PMI or PRINCE2, Agile or Waterfall – indeed what comes out of TOP’s processes feeds wonderfully well into the orthodox project planning approaches. TOP’s Center of Expertise and the mental models, tools and techniques they contain interact with and support these other frameworks.


TOP does disagree with some of the orthodox views on some aspects of how projects should be delivered. For example, there is a widespread view that “projects do not deliver benefits; programs do”. TOP does not agree, indeed we say this is nonsense. All projects and programs should deliver benefits and value.


TOP meshes wonderfully with conventional project delivery processes and software techniques - and indeed enable these to be far more effective as TOP makes sure that ALL the activities required to deliver the desired business outcomes are identified, cost-estimated, project planned and managed.

TOP enables AGILE & SAFe by providing crystal clear definitions of outcomes and business processes needed for AGILE to work.


And the benefits


Organisations can define, plan and execute valuable projects. Your own staff build their skills so that strategy execution and value delivery become a core capability of the organisation.


Projects deliver quicker through far more effective execution and project implementation planning.


Projects deliver the maximum value and for the optimal cost.


A totally optimized project!


For more information on TOP pls. visit the TOP website here