Emergn, a global service consultancy, today announced at Agile2012 in Dallas the launch of Value Flow Quality (VFQ) Education, which it defines as a work-based learning program designed to help developers achieve better results through the application of agile skills.

The problem with agile, according to the company, isn’t in the underlying methodology but rather in the training that exists around such processes. Traditional agile training often relies on a list of practices to be rigidly followed, rather than a real understanding of why they work and how to make them work. “Work-based learning is a concept that exists in other products, but we have built the first work-based learning program in agile and lean,” Paul Dolman-Darrall, VFQ editor at Emergn, said. “Instead of learning in a classroom, VFQ is designed to support you learning on the job.”

The course is divided into three themes: value, flow and quality. Within each theme, chapters explore specific issues, including managing customer demand, faster delivery or producing quality. Each chapter is made up of study sessions delivered as printed or digital booklets. A session contains text incorporating the latest thinking from a range of experts, real-life case studies, and individual and team activities.

“There are 60 sessions within VFQ. Those 60 sessions cover different job roles, different processes such as Scrum, Kanban and XP, what to do if you’re a tester, what to do if you’re a senior manager, and so on,” Dolman-Darrall said. “And VFQ is a very flexible, modular program. If the only thing you’re interested in is our session about prioritization, for example, you can go to our website and buy just that one session if you want.”

Dolman-Darrall said VFQ’s modular course structure allows it to be purchased in several ways. Companies can purchase a 2-day training course for up to 12 employees for US$1,600 per user. All digital and printed program material is included. Individuals can purchase a monthly subscription of US$49 per month per user, which gives each user access to all VFQ sessions. The content is updated monthly. Companies or individuals can also buy the program on a modular basis, purchasing only the sessions wanted (pricing available on the website). {http://www.valueflowquality.com}

Within VFQ, there is a process called “evidence-based initiative.” This is where a user has to complete an initiative within his or her company, and then provide the VFQ with evidence of what happened. Evidence could include things like what they did, what they learned, and why they learned it. The initiative could have been a successful journey or an unsuccessful one, but what the program is looking for is whether or not people are learning. “If people are learning, then we basically grade it, and we’re then able to give the user a qualification based on those grades,” Dolman-Darrall said. “You can think of it as a mini-project, but that mini-project is based on your real project at work.”

Once an agile practitioner finishes the VFQ program, he or she is considered to have received a VFQ qualification. “We call the program qualification a VFQ,” Dolman-Darrall said. “Your qualification isn’t based on a cheap, multiple-choice exam that tests how well you have memorized a document that was written 11 years ago. Teams still have projects to deliver and companies still have things to do. So, our VFQ qualification is based on not you necessarily succeeding at what you’re doing, but how well you can demonstrate that you are learning while you’re actually working in the workplace.”