The increasing need to understand complex products and systems with long life spans, presents a significant challenge to designers who increasingly require a broader understanding of the operational aspects of the system. This demands an evolution in current design practice, as designers are often constrained to provide a subsystem solution without full knowledge of the global system operation. Recently there has been a push to consider value centric approaches which should facilitate better or more rapid convergence to design solutions with predictable completion schedules. Value Driven Design is one such approach, in which value is used as the system top level objective function. This provides a broader view of the system and enables all sub-systems and components to be designed with a view to the effect on project value. It also has the capacity to include value expressions for more qualitative aspects, such as environmental impact. However, application of the method to date has been restricted to comparing value in a programme where the lifespan is fixed and known a priori. This paper takes a novel view of value driven design through the surplus value objective function, and shows how it can be used to identify key sensitivities to guide designers in design trade-off decisions. By considering a new time based approach it can be used to identify optimum programme life-span and hence allow trade-offs over the whole product life.