Frequently asked questions.

Here are some of the questions that we have been asked most often.

What is VFQ?

VFQ is a framework of focus – on Value, Flow and Quality – supported by an education system.

We know that most learning is work-based, gained through actual experience on the job. And yet most education is classroom-based. So VFQ, the education system, recognises and exploits that truth, offering practical teaching that supports people doing their work. VFQ’s content brings together the best thinking, practices and principles behind current methodologies, from Agile, Scrum, SAFe, Kanban, Lean Startup, Design thinking and Systems thinking, and covers topics from contemporary management thinking, including Prioritization, Economics, Organizational Change – whilst keeping the outcomes of Value, Flow and Quality firmly in focus.

What does VFQ stand for?

VFQ stands for Value, Flow, Quality – its framework of focus.  VFQ is not a methodology but a belief that focusing on these three outcomes (rather than, say, Time, Budget and Scope) is the best way to discover the right methodology for your context and to achieve sustained benefit.  These outcomes are best explained as:

  • Deliver Value Early and Often
  • Optimize End-to-End Flow for Faster Delivery
  • Discover Quality through Fast Feedback

We see people and businesses adhering to process, while losing sight of the outcomes. Teams doing Agile, not being Agile, cannot deliver the benefit their business is looking for. Teams focusing on Value, Flow and Quality, can and will.

Why was VFQ developed?

VFQ was developed to solve the four main problems in traditional learning in Agile and other methodologies – that once the Agile coach left, the learning did not stick because the team had grown reliant on the coach; that, because not everyone was trained, there were haves and have-nots, and thus barriers between people; that, for the same reason, there was no common language across the whole team; and that a methodology-centric approach did not allow for good decision-making in changing circumstances.

VFQ – a set of outcomes and a way of learning, not a methodology – makes it possible for everyone to have access to really high-quality educational material, and allows people to practically try out the underlying concepts for themselves in their own work and helps them construct the right solution that works for their specific context.

How is work-based learning better than other methods?

People who have studied the area suggest 70% of learning is done at work, 20% is done through wider reading and talking with colleagues, and the final 10% is from training in the classroom.  But different people learn in different ways, and that’s why VFQ is a work-based learning system that supports all three areas of learning, utilizing the 70:20:10 model.  It is designed to bring together the best of the classroom, access to experts and practical application of learning in your own work.  This helps people develop the skills and capabilities required to improve their own work rather than just learning the theory.  The best way to learn is through doing.

Is VFQ Emergn’s proprietary methodology?

VFQ is a framework of focus, supported by an education system, which sits above methodologies, rather than being a methodology itself. It provides a focus and a system, which together guide our client businesses through the maze of available methodologies, with the aim of identifying what is relevant and valuable to them in their current and future contexts.

Crucially, VFQ develops the skills and capabilities to adapt and adopt new ways of working that fit the needs of your business. In this way, you are able to move on from what has worked up to now, but what is not fit for purpose in your new situation.

Ultimately, VFQ helps people figure out ways of delivering more Value, improving the Flow of ideas, and enhancing the Quality of the work delivered to meet the expectations of customers and users.

VFQ is continuously updated – we work with industry experts and partners to keep our education current and relevant.

How is VFQ related to Agile?

Agile is a term that specifically relates to a set of Values and Principles that were defined by a group of people determined to make the work of software development more enjoyable, valuable and productive.  The Agile Manifesto details these Values and Principles.

Since then (and actually before) a number of frameworks and approaches that aligned well to the Manifesto have grown in popularity. VFQ covers the key ones, and also teaches people the underlying practices and techniques that can help the manifesto come to life in a way that is relevant and responsive to their context.

But, the world of software development (where Agile was originated) isn’t the only place where new techniques are born: Lean still has much for us to learn from; and the Design Thinking space has a whole host of great insights into how to create better solutions that users will love.

Neither the manifesto nor the key frameworks necessarily provide great guidance on how to inject innovation into your projects, or help product developers figure out their business models.  It hasn’t solved the problem of how things scale across an enterprise, or indeed, how to actually go about instituting the change within existing businesses.  There is much missing in terms of economics, creativity, management, leadership and many other topics.

VFQ therefore is a framework of focus that sits above the various methodologies, and shows and teaches people, through its education system, how to increase Value, improve Flow and enhance Quality.

How does VFQ compare to Certified Scrum Master, Certified Product Owner or SAFe training?

VFQ is agnostic of methodologies.  You will find that VFQ material will complement any initial investment you have made in these other directions.  The BCS Agile Practitioner Certification provides a third-party industry qualification that validates skills outside other proprietary certifications.  There is no expectation that you will have done any prior exams or certification; but if you have, you will get more value from going further and deeper.

How many people should go on a VFQ Pathway?

This is a tough question to answer because VFQ provides a level of flexibility that supports businesses of all sizes and industries.  But, let’s try and give you a few rules of thumb:

  1. Try to help everyone in your organization – even if it is with an online/self-learning pathway that helps curious people improve, and creates a common language.
  2. Build your own change capability – a single cohort for the ECP (Expert Coaching Program) is 8 people.  Regardless of your size, do at least 8.  For large organizations, you might want to consider between 5% and 10% of your firm, who will become an Internal Coach, Trainer, Change Agent or Expert.
  3. When it comes to developing Practitioners and Product Managers, you should consider getting one or two in each team who can help drive and shape implementation within the teams.  Having all of a team work together through a pathway is a great way to develop team cohesion and morale, whilst at the same time developing the skills and capability of the group to really improve their productivity and output. Once people have been through the Practitioner or Product Management pathway, they can choose to convert to the ECP Pathway to continue developing skills and capability.
Is VFQ only for people in IT?

VFQ covers the whole ‘Idea-to-Market’ lifecycle, so it works across PDLC (Product Development Lifecycle) and SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle).  However, it can also deliver benefit in the ‘Idea-to-Reality’ space, where any internal change has to be designed, developed, deployed, managed or communicated. Thus, it is not only for IT people.  We have specific courses for CXOs, Product Managers and Senior Managers who are looking for ways to better bring innovative products and services to market, and the best ideas to life.

How much time do I need to invest and still do my day job?

All of our content and courses are designed to support you doing your day-to-day work, whilst developing new skills and capability. We give different guidance on minimum hours for reading, workshops and exercises for our core pathways, varying from 6 hours to over 10. Obviously, the more learning you do, the more you’ll benefit. And the learning that you do in work will benefit you even more profoundly.

The most intensive course is the Expert Coaching Pathway. This requires people to work with other teams, and lead the change in your organization whilst learning the concepts and developing the necessary soft skills to work across the business. It is an investment, but it is also the way that you best drive, control and sustain your own change, and thus minimize the level of investment in external help and consultancy.

If I already have an Agile certification, is VFQ relevant?

Yes.  Many of our very best users are people who were already conversant in Agile and had spent many years practicing Scrum and other frameworks.  The Agile mindset is something that continues to develop over time, and VFQ delivers more opportunities to apply improvements across the ‘Idea-to-Market’ lifecycle.

How can VFQ help the leaders & executives in my organization?

VFQ helps bridge the gap between Agile practices and techniques, and the mindset, behaviors and overall governance required at the corporate level.  Our courses and training are tailored to the job at hand, and the concepts apply equally to a CEO, COO or CFO looking to deploy good governance and risk management strategies for their business, as it does to Product or Software Developers trying to get new products and services out of the door.  The VFQ Management Pathway is one that can be configured to a specific role, but, out-of-the-box, it addresses the key items required to create an environment where innovation, creativity and agility will thrive.

Do we need to be “doing Agile” to be able to use VFQ?

No.  VFQ is a framework of focus and education system that helps people improve.  Having done some Agile in the past certainly doesn’t hurt, but we’ve had some amazing results in processes that might still be considered “waterfall”, and yet the time-to-market has reduced dramatically and the overall value has increased.

Can VFQ be applied when I outsource IT delivery to third parties?

This is a question we have been asked many times over the years, and was one of the reasons we created such a content-rich product.  Your third parties are an extension of your ability to deliver value, and a major factor in the speed at which you are able to do so.  The methodologies and processes that are chosen to effect this delivery need to be tuned to work across company boundaries and commercial terms.  It is essential to be able to analyze these, and apply ways to improve collaboration, communication and co-ordination, alongside the required governance.

VFQ is a way of bridging those gaps and creating a common language to describe the delivery model that works for all parties.  Both sides of any relationship must take ownership of a delivery model for it to be successful. Emergn has helped companies source capable third party suppliers and put in place contract frameworks that support Agile approaches.

How does VFQ relate to the Agile Practitioner Certification from the BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT?

The Agile Practitioner Certification from the BCS curriculum is based on 10 of the modules from VFQ – these are the mandatory reading material for the exam.  After working through the 10 sessions, you will be eligible to sit the exam.  If you want to purchase the courseware, please click here.

If I already have Agile experience, is VFQ relevant?

Agile is one set of methodologies; VFQ is a framework of focus and a supporting education system that cover many methodologies and beyond. So, VFQ not only covers the material in existing Agile certifications, it also helps people to apply it within their own context. It provides insight into how new ways of working can be adapted and adopted in your organization.

Can I self-study VFQ?

Absolutely. In fact, VFQ was originally designed to be a self-study course that adheres to the requirements of a Post-Graduate qualification.  All of the exercises, activities and case studies can be examined individually or with a team of your choice.  It doesn’t require a training course.  It is, however, more effective if you can go beyond individual self-study and apply what you are learning.

How does VFQ support engineering practices?

VFQ’s focus is on the business processes that get ideas to market, or concepts to reality, not on the detail of programming languages, and “best practice” engineering.  This is because the management disciplines in developing and delivering products and services are similar across software and non-software environments.  Also, every engineering environment is different – from programming languages, infrastructure, integration methods and many other elements.  We do cover some core topics that need to be in place to ensure that the products and services being engineered are built correctly, and in a way that remains tolerant to change and speed.  But, the detailed training required by developers is better learned from other experts.

What does a licence entitle me to?

A full content licence entitles you to all of the VFQ session books, slides, summary sheets and the Technique Library.  We are continuing to develop new content all the time, and, while you are within your licence period, you will be able to get updates to all of these elements.  This also includes access to valueflowquality.com, which can be deployed within your company to engage and manage different cohorts and teams of people.

The licence also includes discounted and early access to specific courses that are delivered on the VFQ platform.

Can I purchase a department or enterprise wide licence of VFQ?

VFQ can be purchased for an individual, team, for a department or for a whole business.  If you want to discuss how this works and what might be best for you, please contact us here.  Alternatively, if it’s just for one person, you can sign up now and get immediate access here.

Who is this course for?

We see lots of different people on our product courses. If you’re any part of the product management process then it’s a great course for you. Probably the most common role we see is the Product Owner.  Many companies are introducing this role and people are finding they require a new skill set and have a different set of expectations.  You can definitely learn everything you need on this course.

If you’re completely new to the job – we will help you get going faster. We teach from principles first, to give you a solid grounding in why all this matters. You will understand what is required of you in a product management role and have the opportunity to do it for real.

How is my role as a product owner related to product management?

Product Owners are key in linking product management to the delivery teams that actually build the product. As a Product Owner you need to understand how to write great user stories, how to maintain a backlog and how to work with agile teams to deliver a winning product. This course teaches you all these skills, as well as helping you understand the work that comes before the that. Business models, personas, and MVPs all come before the writing of a user story, the creation of a backlog, etc. The templates and examples for these tools and others will help you to become a more customer-focused Product Owner.

What do I really have to do to earn the certification?

You need to do some real work – based on what your company needs from you. We won’t force you to do extra assignments or do canned projects that don’t fit with your real job. The format you submit your work in is up to you. It could be a Product Pitch, an Experiment Evaluation or a Learning Journal (comprising all the activities you’ve completed). The key thing is that it should be useful to you and your work, and provide us enough to see how you’ve learned the tools and techniques and put them into practice!

How does the Expert Support work?

You will receive one-on-one support from one of our experts and you’ll have four-hours of credit to use with them. They’ll help you become a better Product Owner by working on real examples that you bring to the discussion. They can critique user stories, personas and anything else you produce related to the course.

They’ll also help you to uncover opportunities to do more with your work and suggest the highest impact tools and techniques for you. If you’re struggling with user stories,, then we might suggest working on personas to improve your understanding of the customer problem.

The experts will be able to share their experience working with some of the world’s leading companies, and will also be able to suggest and share with you other helpful material and concepts.

Hour-long support slots can be booked by emailing us at hello@valueflowquality.com. To connect, we use the technology that works best for you (though we typically use Google Hangouts, GoTo Meeting, Skype and others to keep in touch).

Why is this course relevant today?

Product Owners are in high demand. Having a great Product Owners who can lead agile teams is a top priority for business owners in today’s digital world.

Lots of people are having their roles redefined, but not necessarily getting the right support. This course has been used to help people make the transition from being a BA, a Scrum Master, a Project Manager, etc. to become world-beating Product Owners. They are creating real value for some of the most iconic companies in the world who are continually re-imagining the way they serve their customers.

Is there a reputable course for Product Owners out there?

In a word – yes. This one. Just look at the companies we work with and our experience building education and certifications.

Our course is practical. You will learn what is required of you in your role as a Product Owner and have the opportunity to do it for real. The content and activities in this course were developed with and are used by some of the world’s leading companies to drive the development of innovative products and services. There is the option to validate your skills with a certification and also to get feedback from the experts that developed the course.

How much time do I need to invest and still do my day job?

This is a VFQ training course – a framework we developed that sits above the various Agile methodologies, You can read more about our approach here. But, if you’re interested in Scrum we have material on that. If it’s SAFe we have that too. If it’s LeSS you’re interested in, we’ve got you covered. Kanban? Yep, that’s in. Essentially, any modern technique that helps teams deliver value faster and delight customers is covered.

How can I work with others to implement my ideas?

Your work as  Product Owner cannot be truly effective unless other people are involved. We recommend sharing your work from the work-based activities with your development teams and any other stakeholders. Sharing your work will make it better. It also helps you explain why you’re even trying to use new things and what they are. Explaining these things helps you understand it better, and getting feedback from your colleagues will only improve your chances of success.