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SAFe for Teams- What is it all about and What do you need to know about it

SAFe® is a highly agile framework that is designed to allow large enterprises bring agility to their product development and team management. If you work in a team that is part of an Agile Release Train (ART) and want to become a more skilled performer then the SAFe® for Teams certification also known as SAFe® 4 Practitioner (SP) is ideal for you.

Now many team members who apply Lean and Agile at scale may not feel the need to go for SAFe® 4 Practitioner (SP) certification but if you work in such a position and want to become a high-performing team member, this certification can impart you with required skills that enable you to collaborate with other team members. Teams that handle Agile Release Trains or a team that is about to launch an Agile Release Train for the first time will benefit from this certification.

SAFe for Teams is a two-day course that is guided towards the in-depth understanding of the ART. This course teaches you how can your boost up your role to perform more effectively using Scrum, Kanban and XP and deliver more value.

SAFe® Agile Release Train

SAFe Agile Release Train

(Img. Scr:https://www.scaledagileframework.com)

SAFe® 4 Practitioner (SP) certification is focused entirely on training teams for the Agile Release Train. But before we continue with the certification details it is important for you to understand what it takes to launch your first SAFe Agile Release Train.

It is an exciting experience to launch your first SAFe Agile Release Train as a team member. For SAFe® agile implementation to scale at the enterprise level it is important that every team member has an understanding of the structure, deployment and importance of ART. Planning and launch of ART depend entirely on the understanding of the team members and a qualified team can successfully implement the complex projects delivering maximum business values, completing the project within the time limit and under the set budget.

ART is similar to a train that carries passengers to their set destination at a defined cost within pre-estimated time. Now to start a successful ART you need to be aware of what principles govern the Agile Release Train.

Scaled Agile, the provider of SAFe® put this set of common principles on which an ART must operate:

Agile Release Train Canvas

(Img. Scr: https://www.scaledagileframework.com)

The schedule is fixed – The features have a timed departure. ART departs the station on a known schedule as predetermined by the PI cadence. If a feature misses a fixed departure, then it can be accommodated in the next scheduled departure.

A new system increment every two weeks – It is mandatory that trains deliver system increments every two weeks. To evaluate the working system there is a System Demo in place that acts as the integrated increment from all the teams.

The PI timebox is fixed – All teams which are a part of the same ART has synchronized PI length and common iteration start/end dates and duration.

The train has a known velocity –It is important that each train estimates reliably how much cargo can be delivered in a PI.

Agile Teams – All teams part of the ART are agile teams, i.e. they embrace the SAFe® values and principles and apply Kanban, Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), and other agile practices.

Dedicated people –Irrespective of their functional reporting structure, almost everyone in the ART teams is dedicated full time to the train.

Face-to-face PI Planning – All the working plans related to the ART are decided largely during face-to-face PI Planning events.

Innovation and Planning (IP) – To estimate and dedicate time for PI planning and innovation, continuing education and infrastructure work, IP iterations are a must as they act as a guard band (buffer).

Inspect and Adapt (I&A) – At the end of every PI, an I&A event is held to demonstrate and evaluate the current state of the solution. Based on the outcome, teams along with management identify backlog items.

Develop on Cadence. Release on Demand – To manage the inherent variability of research and development, an ART depends on cadence and synchronization. However, the release of an ART is usually not coupled with development cadence. ARTs can release a solution or its elements at any time.

These are the principles on which an efficient and well-planned ART operates. When there is a larger value stream, several ARTs collaborate to build what is known as a Solution Train. A Solution Train is implemented when you need larger solutions.

Steps for Launching SAFe® Agile Release Train

Train the SAFe® Program Consultants (SPCs)

SPCs are the change agents who are responsible for transforming your organization and connecting it to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®). To train SPCs is the first step towards the launch of your ART as they will be responsible for guiding all the leaders and project stakeholders to drive the ART to its destination on time and within budget.

Train Lean-Agile Leaders

It is the responsibility of the Lean-Agile Leaders to lead and facilitate the SAFe® adoption within the organization for improved outcomes. This is why it is expected from Lean-Agile Leaders that they understand the SAFe® Agile Framework well enough to implement its principles successfully. In order to do so, you will have to train these leaders to the best possible standards to make smooth transition.

Identify Value Streams and ART

ART is a procedural system that entails solution defining, building, validation and deployment. To ensure smooth progress you need to tell all the responsibilities clearly to every team member.

Organize Agile Teams

Organizing ART and Agile teams is an integral part of your role as a SAFe® Practitioner. The roadmap towards this organization includes several milestones including:

Well-defined product with detailed features/components

Collaboration

Leadership support

Integration

Minimized dependencies

Well-managed DevOps activities

 

Define ART member roles and fill them

It is important to well define the roles of ART members so that agile teams can work aligned together to deliver product par the customer’s expectations. Some critical roles that you must define include Release Train Engineer, Product Managers, System Architect, Product Owners and Scrum Masters.

Refine the Product Backlog

The vision of PI is what keeps the product development on track. The Product Backlog defines what is built or PI that informs agile team members about the upcoming features, NFRs and architectural work. This Product Backlog helps you to gain a vision into the future system behavior that helps you to create stories for the Agile teams.

Train the teams

To ensure on-time and best delivery of the product, you need to train the teams to embrace the ART readiness and deliver maximum values at each sprint.

Do PI Planning

PI planning is where face-to-face meeting and events happen. Such events allow Agile Release Train to align all the SAFe agile teams to work towards a shared vision. This is a step at which you actually launch the ART.

Execution

At this step you have the ART definition, the next step is to schedule your first PI planning event that involves forcing functions with a PI calendar. This calendar is marked with all the scheduled activities including ART sync, PI planning, Inspect & Adapt (I&A) workshop, System demos etc.

Innovation and Planning Iteration

This step brings you at the destination where you conduct innovation and planning iteration to absorb any variances in estimates, refine backlog, allow time for innovation and plan ‘Inspect & Adapt’ workshop.

Planning and launching SAFe Agile Release Train (ART) is a complex and challenging task. This is why it is important that before taking on the role you prepare yourself by acquiring the expertise and by taking SAFe® 4 Practitioner (SP) course like the one offered by Agile-Center. Their trainers will provide you with effective training during the 2-day course that will help to become a certified SAFe 4 Practitioner.

Learning goal of the SAFe® 4 Practitioner (SP) course

As a SAFe Practitioner, you should be able to scale Lean and Agile development in your organization via SAFe. It is also required that you have the complete knowledge of your team and its role on the ART. This will help you to optimize your team’s performance and plan iterations accordingly. As a SAFe Practitioner, you will also be required to know the roles of other teams on the Agile Release Train, what their functions are and the dependencies between them. Executing iterations and demonstrating value, planning program increments and working with other teams on the train will also be your role profile.

Now to perform your role, you will have to have the knowledge of the following:

How the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is implemented at scale

How to build an Agile Team

How plan Iteration

How to execute Iteration

How to execute the Program Increment

The SAFe® 4 Practitioner (SP) course teaches you all these concepts. Any agile team member is eligible to take the SAFe® 4 Practitioner (SP) course but it is highly recommended that you work on these prerequisites first:

Gain working knowledge of software and hardware development processes

Know how Scrum, Kanban and XP methodologies work

Familiarize yourself with the concepts and principles of Agile

What other courses complement SAFe for Teams?

SAFe 4 Practitioner is responsible for driving the Agile Release Train working along with other members of the teams. He is also responsible for providing required details to other members. As a SAFe 4 Practitioner you will be required to:

Train Product Owners and Product Managers

Product managers and product owners working together steer the train. Both these roles are critical for the success of the ART and must be well trained. In addition, both product owners and product managers are largely responsible for the initial program backlog building. For training these roles SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager course is the best resource.

Train the Scrum Masters

Scrum masters coach agile team members to improve their performance. Other than that effect ART also depends on the servant leadership of the Scrum Master. In SAFe, Scrum Masters are important for PI planning and also help coordinate value delivery through Scrum of Scrums meetings. The SAFe Scrum Master course is designed to teach traditional scrum masters responsibilities of the larger team-of-Agile-teams.

Train the System Architects/Engineers

System Architects/Engineers provide the broader technology and architectural view of the solution. They enable Agile teams to accelerate the creation of business value by allowing them to make decentralized decisions. SAFe System and Solution Architect course train senior technical contributors into effective Lean-Agile leadership skills.

SAFe for Teams- SAFe Practitioner Certificate Exam Details

Scaled Agile conducts this certification exam known as the SAFe 4 Practitioner Exam. It is a web-based, closed book online exam. The exam format is multiple choice, multiple select. You will be able to access the exam online within the SAFe Community Platform upon completion of the SAFe 4 Practitioner course.

The SAFe Practitioner Certificate Exam is a 90 minutes test during which you have to answer 45 questions in total. Passing score is set to 77%, i.e. you will be required to answer 35 questions out of 45 correctly to get certified. The exam is available only in the English language for candidates.

When you pay the SAFe Practitioner Certificate course registration fee, the cost of first exam attempt is included provided you take the test within 30 days upon completion of the course. Else, every retake attempt with cost you $50. You can attempt the exam for the second time immediately after the first try, however, for the 3rd try you have to wait for 10 days. For the fourth attempt, you will have to wait for 30 days.

The SAFe Practitioner Certificate course teaches you how to write stories, break down features, plan and execute iterations and more. During the final stage of the course, you will learn about the DevOps culture and the continuous delivery pipeline. At the end of the course, you will have the knowledge of what it takes to continuously improve the train and how to effectively integrate with other teams in the program.

A Complete Scrum Master Guide-Roles, Qualities, Certification and More

Agile Methodologies are one of the most significant developments that the IT sector have adopted. Pursuing a career in agile during your formative IT years can make you the best cultural fit for any information technology organisation. These methodologies not only teach you about efficient software development and project management but also allow you to learn about greater flexibility, delivering high-quality products and focusing on customer satisfaction. Scrum is one of the most popular agile methodologies that allow most organisations to achieve organisational agility. Taking the professional job as a Scrum Master can help you have a fulfilling and promising career.

However, often people confuse the role of a Scrum Master and they have no clear idea who can play it well. In this blog we are going to provide you with a complete overview of what Scrum is, what are the roles of a Scrum Master, what are the qualities of a Scrum Master, and how can you become a Scrum Master.

What is Scrum?

According to Wikipedia, “Scrum is an agile framework for managing knowledge work, with an emphasis on software development. It is designed for teams of three to nine members, who break their work into actions that can be completed within timeboxed iterations, called "sprints", no longer than one month and most commonly two weeks, then track progress and re-plan in 15-minute stand-up meetings, called daily scrums.”

In simple words, scrum methodology involves the creation of a wishlist by the product owner and then the created WishList is broken down by the project team to smaller pieces that are known as ‘sprints’. Typically, a sprint lasts for four weeks and it makes project deliverables very easy to be shipped to the customer. The development team repeats this process over several sprints until the project is delivered. During the entire process, the Scrum Master is at the center of the scrum coordinating all activities that are taking place in the project development and also collaborating between different themes of the project.

What is Scrum

Entire scrum process is mainly divided among three key roles-the product owner, the Scrum Master and the development team. Here we are going to primarily focus on the role of a Scrum Master. Before we continue with the qualities that are required to become a successful Master we will look at the definition of a Scrum Master.

Who is a Scrum Master?

Scrum Master is the leading person of the scrum team who is usually referred to as the champion of the team. It is the role of the Scrum Master to guide the project team and the product owner during the development phase and ensures that the team is implementing all the required agile practices properly. Not only the Scrum Master is responsible for troubleshooting the issues that arise during the agile development process but is also helpful in keeping the business, team, individuals and the product owner on the right track so that they achieve the target.

Successful Scrum Master

A scrum Master achieves his goals by following:

  1.  At the product owner level, the Scrum Master helps owners to stick to the scrum best practices by facilitating planning

  2. At the business level, the Scrum Master is responsible for creating a supportive and productive environment that enables collaboration bidirectional

  3. At the team level, the Scrum Master provides support, facilitation and guidance that helps remove all possible barriers

  4. At an individual level, the Scrum Master works at a deeper degree, supporting individual efforts, removing any impediments to help individual team members focus and be more productive and providing appropriate individual effort support

According to IT experts, the rules of a Scrum Master are rapidly changing and a quality certification program helps the Scrum Masters to keep their skills updated. Quality certification programs like SAFe certification are becoming industry norms for the role.

Before we continue with the details of the SAFe certification programs for Scrum Master’s let’s take a look at the qualities of a successful Scrum Master. Even if you feel you do not have these qualities, you still can nurture yourself to build these required qualities.

Qualities of a Successful Scrum Master

Who is a Scrum Master

  1. A Scrum Master Is Influential

The role of a Scrum Master is inherently leadership and this is why they are tasked with achieving specific project deliverables and milestones. In order to achieve this goal a scrum Master must be equipped to strategically motivate his team and individuals at an organizational level so as to keep the project going. It is the responsibility of the Scrum Master is a team leader to effectively convert the conceptualised ideas into actionable plans within the team. They are also expected to keep the motivation of the team members high and inspire them to maximise their potential. This is why a Scrum Master is expected to demonstrate his leadership skills within the organisation as well as within the sprint teams.

  1. A Scrum Master Is Collaborative

A Scrum Master is a very important link between the project teams and the product owner. The role of a product owner is to drive the team towards results and goals but it is the responsibility of a Scrum Master to nurture the entire team. A fascinating product is a result of successful collaboration between the Scrum Master and the product owner that meets the customer’s goal. While the product owner keeps productivity and involvement in the project high, a Scrum Master is responsible to introduce innovative games to the entire process. As a collaborative lead, a Scrum Master is responsible for encouraging self-organisation among the team members and make them confident enough to make important decisions and improve their overall contribution to the project.

  1. A Scrum Master Is Observant

Another important skill of a Scrum Master is that he’s a good listener and acts as a facilitator. It is his responsibility to pay attention to the challenges that are faced by the project team. The Scrum Master has to soak himself entirely in the team’s daily activities so that he has a clear view of every individual’s contribution and role within the sprint sessions. To further his observational skills a scrum Master has to use his leadership to inspire the team members to achieve their goals as per their roles.

  1. A Scrum Master Is Knowledgeable

An inherent role of Scrum Master is not only resolving impediments but preventing any potential problem before it arises. This can only be achieved if he has absolute knowledge of the product and discipline. This quality only comes with experience that provides a Scrum Master with enough instincts to foresee any possible roadblocks and challenges. This is why this professional must possess knowledge of agile methodologies such as Kanab, lean and XP besides scrum. He must be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of these methodologies and how to use them in combination with scrum.

All these qualities might appear to be hard to nurture but as you learn agile methodologies you become more and more eligible to work as a Scrum Master. Now we are going to take a look at the roles that you will be performing as a Scrum Master.

The Roles of a Scrum Master

During Scaled Agile courses designed for Scrum Masters you are trained to perform unique roles. Some of these key roles are:

The Role of a Facilitator

As a Scrum Master, you will have to conduct daily meetings to get some hands-on update on the project to foresee any potential impediments and to link the activities with the product owner’s WishList. At times you will also have to hold demo sessions for the stakeholders to demonstrate project progress to them. All these meetings and sessions are important to gain feedback on the project which plays an important role in deciding the deliverables and release deadline. As a facilitator, it will be your role to estimate the highest value deliverables and plan them for the next release. All in all, you will be responsible to ensure the sustainability and success of a project. These will be your ultimate goals:

  • Facilitate scrum ceremonies and meetings for team members

  • Act as a link between the stakeholders and the team members

  • Make use of different agile technologies to achieve the project goals

  • Provide the actual definition of done

The Role of a Coach

As a Scrum Master, your role will be providing a clear vision of the product to the project team and this can be done by integrating them into the organisation and creating goals for them. You will also be responsible for setting up communication and information exchange between the project team and external groups. By monitoring the project progress you will have to provide timely feedback so that the culture of agility and learning is encouraged. As a coach, you will have to guide the team to implement the required methodology rules for rapid and reliable business product delivery. As a coach you will:

  • Mentor team on scrum practices

  • Promote a standardised project development process

  • Provide feedback

  • Remove any impediments and roadblocks

  • Promote a way for continuous improvements

What a Scrum Master is “NOT”

With all this information about scrum Master, another important detail you need to know about is what a Scrum Master is not. This will help you have a clear concept of what your role is as a Scrum Master will be and will help you eliminate any ambiguity or opacity you have about this role.

A Scrum Master is not a Project manager, be clear on that. The role of a Project manager is of leadership and decision-making. He is responsible for managing the project and lead teams to accomplish the project target according to the vision. However, a Scrum Master acts as a facilitator and a coach. He is ultimately a mediator between the project and the customer.

A Scrum Master is not a product owner as well. There is a huge responsibility of the project on product owners and they have to maintain the entire product backlog. Unlike scrum Master, a product owner manages and re-prioritizes the backlog to accommodate the changes that drive the project.

This is an important piece of information that will let you away from getting confused between the roles of a Scrum Master with that of a project manager or product owner.

How to Become a Scrum Master?

Now you will be interested in knowing the pathway towards becoming a successful Scrum Master. The least difficult and most linear way to become a Scrum Master is through certification. There are a number of certifications available for Scrum Masters, the most advanced of all are the Certified SAFe® Scrum Master and the Certified SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master. Both of these courses are designed to provide a distinctive teaching to candidates on how to get scrum teams working at their highest levels.

Both the certifications teach you about the fundamentals of the Scrum framework and how you can become well versed in team rules, events, rules and artifacts that allow you to implement scrum methodology in the enterprise. Having such SAFe certifications, they put you on the top of the workforce as they are your real-world experience. Such a quality certification demonstrates that you have the apt knowledge and experience of the Scrum process and that you can utilise to watch continuous improvement of the projects.

Let’s take a look at what Certified SAFe® Scrum Master and the Certified SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master courses entail.

SAFe framework is the leading agile methodology that is used at the enterprise level to introduce agile practices to product development and team management. It makes sense to take SAFe certification if you are planning to move to the role of the Scrum Master in an enterprise. Two of the most promising certifications for Scrum Masters in SAFe environment are:

SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) Certification

If you are already performing your role as a Scrum Master in a non- SAFe environment and want to migrate to the SAFe enterprise, then the certification is ideal for you. This is a two-day course that is focused on training Scrum Masters to perform in a SAFe environment. After taking this course you will be able to explore your role at an enterprise level in depth and will be able to coach high performing agile teams. You will also be able to plan and execute program increments.

The main goal of the Certified SAFe® Scrum Master course is to identify the role in a SAFe enterprise. It will teach you how to facilitate scrum events between the teams and the team and stakeholders. You will learn effective iteration execution and will be able to support effective Program Increment (Releases) execution. This course also entails how to coach agile teams and to support relentless improvement and DevOps implementation.

Agile-Center has the best training courses for the SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) Certification. You can know more about this course here.

SAFe Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) Certification

If you are a Scrum Master and are already familiar with the SAFe framework in an enterprise and want to move on to leadership role then the certification is for you. Agile-Center offers a two-day course to train existing scrum Masters of the concept of scalable engineering, scaling agile scrum practices at an enterprise level, application of Kanban and DevOps practices, all of which facilitate the flow of value.

The aim of the Certified SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master Course is to provide the scrum master with necessary tools to help in facilitation, enablement, and coaching in a multi-team environment using SAFe principles. The learned principles can also be used to build high performing teams and identify and address Agile and Scrum anti-patterns. This course also teaches you how to support the adoption of agile architecture, DevOps principles and scalable engineering practices. Another application of this certification will be in the optimisation of flow of team’s work by applying Kanban eXtreme Programming (XP) frameworks. SAFe Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) certified Scrum Masters are excellent in end-to-end systems value program planning, execution, and delivery which is a highly sought out scale. Certification will help you coach the agile teams and encourage learning through participation in Communities of Practice and innovation cycles.

You can learn about the Agile-Center course for SAFe Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) Certification here.

Final Thoughts

The Scrum Master’s role is one of the most highly paid positions in the IT industry. Most organisations consider a Scrum Master to be the ultimate voice of the Scrum framework. However, as a Scrum Master more than a facilitator you will be seen by the team members as a coach. The agile adoption at the enterprise level is happening at a fast pace but only working in the scrum will not further your progress. You can break the glass ceiling if it is keeping you from levelling up as a Scrum Master by taking focused and recognised certifications like Certified SAFe® Scrum Master and the Certified SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master.

Which SAFe certification course is the best pick for you

SAFe has become one of the preferred development and delivery frameworks for scaling agile in enterprises. That being said, with many Agile certifications it often becomes challenging to pick one that promotes your career; benchmarking your agile skills and practices precisely.

Agile certification programs are opposed by many veterans who argue that most certification programs have lenient vetting, lax training and exam requirements. Furthermore, these opponents believe that certification only proves that an individual is book smart and reveals nothing about his or her expertise.

These opinions often give rise to the question:

Is SAFe Certification really worth it?

Agile frameworks are nothing new, and they have been into existence for decades. However, industry leaders believe that instructor-led agile training certificates help improve an organization's overall environment.

It is seen that curriculums like Scaled Agile courses spark the collaborative mindset around agile methods. Such courses instill the team-think approach among development teams and with the end goal being a certification; employees are often more interested in training.

To answer the question, yes SAFe certification can give a boost to your career as well help you to understand the intricacies of scaling agile at the enterprise level.

With SAFe large enterprises are able to implement the agile methodology to their existing projects and allow large teams to work more effectively. Now scaling agile practices to enterprise levels effectively requires some level of knowledge, skill and experience in SAFe. As a matter of fact, SAFe is one of the few frameworks that are proven to combine lean and system thinking efficiently with Agile development practices.

How SAFe updates your skills?

Corporations of all size benefit from SAFe methods to increase revenue on investment. Here are four reasons why you should seriously consider getting a SAFe certification:

1) Deal With Agile Adoption Challenges

It is fairly easy to adopt agile in small organizations with one or two teams. The problem arises when you try to replicate the same success at the enterprise level. It is because agile practices and processes being used in small teams are not best suited to scale at the enterprise level. Leading SAFe training equips you with the required skills and tools to scale agile across the enterprise without any fail.

The skills you learn with SAFe training courses enable you to align multiple development teams, achieve IT collaboration working with different departments and still deliver value to customers and be in line with organizational goals and vision.

2) Fewer delays, obstacles and failures in SAFe implementation

In large organizations, there are multiple teams and business departments that already use agile internally. But when you bring them together then failures and obstacles start to arise that if not controlled early on easily get out of hand. SAFe training skills you enough so that you can implement a uniform agile approach throughout the enterprise.

Clashing or out-of-line agile practices will no longer be a problem for your teams as you will be able to guide them to adopt a consistent approach that will enhance product quality and architecture. Certifications like Leading SAFe allows entire organization to use Agile Release Train to plan, execute and deliver value bringing multiple teams together effectively.

3) Understand the new roles in an agile environment

Scaling agile at the enterprise level will require you to create new roles and change the existing ones. If you do not understand what new roles are to be created or which one needs to be changed and how to change them, challenges will arise.

To avoid these challenges and avoid fear across the entire organization regarding the potential of existing roles, SAFe courses provide you with knowledge of management skills that will help existing and new team members to adopt the new agile mindset and practices. The managers, executives and product owners can only understand with training their roles and changes to be made across teams at program and portfolio level.

4) Consistency at all levels

Without proper training, implementing agile across your enterprise can be challenging as maintaining consistency across different departments become difficult. SAFe certification is all about learning the skills to establish and maintain consistent strategy across the enterprise.

Upon training completion, you will have the knowledge to understand what processes and principles need to be used to align multiple departments along the same strategy.

SAFe training equips you with the skill to clearly communicate your strategy at the program and portfolio levels. SAFe is the framework that allows you to implement Lean consistently across the organization.

These are the reasons why SAFe certification is worth your time and money. You learn to understand key roles and responsibilities, processes and metrics that allow you to align multiple agile development teams together without failing.

Choosing the right SAFe Certification

Choosing the right SAFe training course that aligns with your current position in the organization and the future goal you are targeting is important. Through this, I am going to provide you with an insight into the available SAFe training courses, where to start and how to prepare for the SAFe exam. The shared information will set you on the right path to make most of training.

The first step towards picking the most suited SAFe certification is to understand what each of the courses has to offer so as to make an informed choice.

Scaled Agile, the provider of SAFe offers 10 certification courses including the framework-based courses. These are:

  1. Certified SAFe® Agilist (SA)

  2. Certified SAFe® Program Consultant

  3. Certified SAFe® Practitioner

  4. Certified SAFe® Scrum Master

  5. Certified SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master

  6. Certified SAFe® Release Train Engineer

  7. Certified SAFe® Product Owner/Product Manager

  8. Certified SAFe® DevOps Practitioner (SDP)

  9. Certified SAFe® Government Practitioner (SGP)

  10. Certified SAFe® Agile Software Engineer (ASE)

1. SAFeAgilist Certification (SA)

SAFeAgilist Certification (SA)

It is a 2-day course which is an excellent starting point for someone new to SAFe. It covers all the Scaled Agile Framework principles and practices along with an introduction of what it means to lead Lean-Agile transformation and how to adopt a Lean-Agile mindset. This Leading SAFe training course is also ideal for leaders in an organization who want to join the transformation team.

Learning Goals of Certified SAFe® Agilist (SA) Course:

  • Understand 5 core competencies of the Lean Enterprise

  • Learn and apply Lean-Agile Mindset values and principles

  • Become a Lean-thinking manager-teacher

  • Create high-performance teams applying SAFe

  • Able to apply SAFe’s Lean and Agile principles to existing and new SAFe roles

  • Become transformation leader to deliver SAFe Implementation Roadmap

  • Drive Release on Demand making use of Continuous Delivery Pipeline

  • Support PI Planning

  • Plan alignment strategy with Strategic Themes and Lean Portfolio Management

  • Coordinate multiple Agile Release Trains with a Solution Train

2. SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) Certification

SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) Certification

The SPC is a 4-day course which entails training software developers and executives to coach programs, adopt DevOps culture, build a continuous delivery pipeline, launch Agile Release Trains, and empower a Lean Portfolio. The first two days of the courses deal with Leading SAFe that offers a basis of SAFe. The final two days focus on learning how to implement SAFe approach in your enterprise.

On completion of this course, you will be ready to take the position of a Lean-Agile leader who can lead digital transformation at the enterprise level. This course opens a lot of exciting opportunities for you.

Learning Goals of Certified SAFe® Program Consultant Course:

  • Train executives and managers in Leading SAFe®

  • Lead an enterprise Lean-Agile transformation

  • Empower a Lean Portfolio

  • Implement the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) at the enterprise level

  • Able to perform Value Stream identification

  • Align different teams in the organization to a common language and working strategy

  • Launch and support Agile Release Trains

  • Build and execute an implementation rollout strategy

  • Configure the SAFe Framework to support a specific enterprise context

  • Learn and grow to be able to train other SAFe roles in the enterprise

3. Certified SAFe® Practitioner

Certified SAFe Practitioner

SAFe Practitioner (SP) Certification includes the SAFe for Teams course. If you work in the Agile Release Train team in a SAFe enterprise then this certification will provide you with the skills to better your role. This is a two-day course focused on offering in-depth understanding of ARTs, plan and execute iterations and learn how to write user stories.

Learning Goals of Certified SAFe® Practitioner Course:

  • Learn to apply SAFe to scale Lean and Agile development at the enterprise level

  • Plan Iterations

  • Know their team’s role on the Agile Release Train

  • Know all other teams on the ART, and their dependencies on other teams

  • Execute Iterations and demonstrate value

  • Learn to integrate and work with other teams on the ART

  • Plan Program Increments

4. SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) Certification

SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) Certification

A 2-day course that details the role of a Scrum Master in a SAFe environment. This course explores the role of a Scrum Master at an enterprise level in depth. After taking this course you will be able to plan and execute Program Increments and build high-performing agile teams as a Servant Leader and Coach. This SAFe certification is ideal for existing and new Scrum Masters who want to join teams in a SAFe enterprise.

Learning Goals of Certified SAFe® Scrum Master Course:

  • Identify Scrum role in a SAFe enterprise

  • Facilitate Scrum events and effective Iteration execution

  • Be able to support effective Program Increment (Releases) execution

  • Support relentless improvement

  • Coach Agile teams

  • Support DevOps implementation

5. SAFe Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) Certification

SAFe Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) Certification

SASM is entirely focused on training existing Scrum Masters to take on a leadership role in an enterprise with SAFe environment. This is a two-day course that introduces Scrum Masters to the concept of scalable engineering, application of Kanban and DevOps practices, all of which facilitate the flow of value.

Learning Goals of Certified SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master Course:

  • Enable Scrum Masters to apply SAFe principles to facilitation, enablement, and coaching in a multi-team environment

  • Identify and address Agile and Scrum anti-patterns

  • Build a high-performing team

  • Support the adoption of scalable engineering practices, Agile architecture, and DevOps

  • Optimize flow of team’s work by applying Kanban eXtreme Programming (XP) frameworks

  • End-to-end systems value program planning, execution, and delivery

  • Encourage learning through participation in Communities of Practice and innovation cycles

6. SAFe Release Train Engineer (RTE) Certification

SAFe Release Train Engineer (RTE) Certification

A certified RTE is able to take full control of an Agile Release Train by guiding, coordinating and organizing all the team. You will also be able to participate in pre and post-PI meetings and drawn up PI objectives on completion of this course. If you are a new Release Train Engineer, Program Manager, Scrum Master, Agile Coach, SPC or PMO, this 3-day course will benefit you.

Learning Goals of Certified SAFe® Release Train Engineer Course:

  • Learn about Lean-Agile and apply the knowledge to execute and release value

  • Foster relentless improvement

  • Assist with program and large solution execution

  • Build a high-performing Agile Release Train

  • Develop an action plan for teams to continue learning

7. SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM) Certification

Product Manager (POPM) Certification

A 2-day Scaled Agile course, this certification is for Business Owners, Product Managers, Business Analysts and Product Managers. This course teaches you to identify your existing role with a Lean-Agile mindset. On completion of the course, you will be able to plan PIs, launch ARTs and deliver continuous value for your enterprise.

Learning Goals of Certified SAFe® Product Owner/Product Manager Course:

  • Connect PO/PM roles to the SAFe Lean-Agile principles and values

  • Apply SAFe in the Lean enterprise

  • Lean Portfolio Management Collaboration

  • Explore and execute Program Increment Planning for continuous value delivery

  • Articulate the Product Owner and Product Manager roles

  • Create a role action plan

8. Certified SAFe® DevOps Practitioner (SDP)

Certified SAFe DevOps Practitioner

This is a comprehensive 2-day course that gives you an overview of DevOps competencies that will help you improve the flow of value through the Continuous Delivery Pipeline.

Learning Goals of Certified SAFe® DevOps Practitioner (SDP) Course:

  • Overview of CALMR approach to DevOps

  • Apply the concepts of continuous security

  • Understand the importance of continuous integration and continuous testing

  • Measure the flow of value through the delivery pipeline

  • Identify gaps and delays in flow within a SAFe environment

  • Improve customer needs exploration process

  • Improve the process of developing, building, and integrating continuously

  • Improve the release process

  • Continuously deploy to staging and production environments

  • Execute DevOps transformation plan

9. Certified SAFe® Government Practitioner (SGP)

Certified SAFe Government Practitioner (SGP)

This SAFe certification is entirely focused on imparting skills for building technology-based Lean-Agile practices in the government context by learning the right information and strategies. In this 2-day course, attendees will learn to use SAFe for Lean-Agile transformation of a program inside a government agency.

Learning Goals of Certified SAFe® Government Practitioner (SGP) Course:

  • Lead the transition of government programs from traditional software and systems development to DevOps and Lean-Agile mindset via SAFe

  • Adapt technology strategy and governance processes to flow-based practices keeping the emerging government guidelines in mind

  • Organize government programs into one or more Agile Release Trains (ARTs)

  • Explore Large Solution coordination in a government-based entity

  • Identify leader behaviours and make essential strategies for successful Lean-Agile transformation

  • Successful SAFe implementations to the government context

  • Build a preliminary outline for SAFe implementation in your program or agency

10. Certified SAFe® Agile Software Engineer (ASE)

Certified SAFe Agile Software Engineer

This is a 3-day workshop-oriented course that will help software engineer to learn the foundational principles and practices of the Agile Software Engineering help deliver software-centric solutions faster with higher quality in a more predictable manner.

Learning Goals of Certified SAFe® Agile Software Engineer (ASE) Course:

  • Learn underlying principles and values of Agile Software Engineering

  • Apply the Test-First principle

  • Understand Behavior-Driven Development (BDD)

  • Communicate with Agile modelling

  • Build applications with code and design quality

  • Design from testability POV

  • Automate testing infrastructure

  • Collaborate on intentional architecture

  • Optimize flow of value with Lean-Agile Principles

  • Create Agile Software Engineering plans

How to prepare for the SAFe certification exam?

Scaled Agile has designed all of the above courses to test students’ theoretical and practical knowledge to fulfil their roles in a SAFe environment especially in an enterprise.

In general, SAFe exam is hard and you should not take it lightly. This is why it is essential to attend the respective SAFe training courses and learn to apply Lean-Agile principles to real-life scenarios that can only be achieved by rigorously preparing for the exam.

It will be easier for you to prepare for Leading SAFe by referring to Scaled Agile Framework in detail. You can learn more about each Safe Certification by visiting Scaled Agile website. Here you will also find sample questions and mock tests.

 

 

SAFe® Certification - A Complete Beginners Guide

Larger enterprises struggle with Agile when trying to shift from well-established command-and-control mindset to Agile-entrenched hierarchies. In such legacy enterprises, it is very difficult to push your idea to teams and IT leadership with having a certificate that benchmarks your expertise.

Now for presenting your Agile skills and expertise, one highly recommended certification is the SAFe or Scaled Agile Framework.

In this article, we will provide you with a complete guide on SAFe courses. Here you will learn:

  • What is SAFe®?

  • Why use Scaled Agile Framework?

  • The Structure of the Scaled Agile Framework

  • Which SAFe® Certification Is Right For You?

  • What are the costs associated with SAFe certification?

  • Additional Exam Details

For larger software development projects, the benefit of using an Agile approach is now well-established. Agile has revolutionized the way software development and project management is taken up by individuals and teams in a highly scalable environment. IT professionals with an understanding of the methodology of Agile are huge in demand.

If you want to take your IT career to next level, a certification that benchmarks your knowledge and competence with the framework can help. Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe™) Certification or simple SAFe certification is a recommended training course that allows you to demonstrate your agile know-how and take your career to the next level.

What is SAFe: Scaled Agile Framework?

SAFe is an agile framework designed to provide a structure for software development and enhancement in a predictable and continuous manner. It provides a simple and lightweight experience for development team allowing them to embed their agile work practices into a framework which can be scaled to an enterprise level. SAFe encompasses roles, practices and guidance for the adoption of the framework for an IT project.

In simple words, the ultimate goal of SAFe is to easily enable multiple agile development teams to provide what business needs, when it needs, with regular and frequent releases. Development teams can maintain a continuous flow of new and enhanced software along with supporting infrastructure providing strategically defined target value.

It is not hard to image how disruptive project collaboration can become among multiple agile development teams when they scale. SAFe is designed to make this collaboration easier aimed at development teams with 50 members or more including all testing and development roles. The whole SAFe is structured into three segments-Team, Program and Portfolio.

There are Scaled Agile courses available for each of these segments. To pick one you need to first understand how SAFe defines the three levels and what do they include.

Why use Scaled Agile Framework?

Agile framework is simple and light in weight, yet it is scalable enough to handle complex system development by handling large value streams. There are many flavors of Agile, but for the enterprise level of management, SAFe is the best framework.

Not only you streamline the overall product development process but also get following benefits:

  1. Increased productivity by 20 - 50%

  2. Increased Quality by more than 50%

  3. Reduced Time to Market by 30 -75%

  4. Increased employee engagement and job satisfaction

Agile process works as follows:

Agile process works as follows

The large body of work is broken into Epics that are further broken into smaller and more manageable sub-epics. These sub-epics are then allocated to multiple agile development teams as a story. Each development team work on these stories/software feature accordingly.

This is a toned down introduction to Agile, but SAFe is able to simply a much more complex product development and management environment into easily manageable Agile organization.

Structure of Scaled Agile Framework

Structure of Scaled Agile Framework

(img source-www.scaledagileframework.com)

The above is an interactive graphical representation of how the Scaled Agile Framework methodology allows teams to scale agile from team to program to enterprise level, defining the roles, teams, techniques and activities necessary.

SAFe efficiently combines the elements of Lean thinking, Kaizen, Kanban, Agile development techniques and Product Development Flow. On the right side, you can see that SAFe segmented entire product development and implementation into three levels:

1. Team Level

Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP) practices make the base of the team level segment of SAFe. The framework expands these practices to fit the scenario where multiple XP/Scrum teams are delivering the software product for businesses concurrently and interdependently.

Under SAFe implementation, multiple small teams can easily co-ordinate that enables them to deliver maximum return on investment and use resources most efficiently in line with overall Portfolio level project roadmap and end goal. This approach need not be confused with “Scrum-of-Scrums” concept as it details the role definitions and guidance for successfully achieving this coordination. Additionally, SAFe has adopted eXtreme programming’s technical practices such as continuous integration and test-first development that enables high-quality software development.

Real-time SAFe implementation at Team Level

The overall agile development capability of a project is divided into small, cross-functional teams. These teams work in synchronized work cycles of typically two weeks to deliver a new software functionality. These synchronized sprints bring in rhythm to teams as they easy co-ordinate together and collaborate on a plan to release the updates and explore dependencies at the Program level.

2. Program Level

The Program level further progresses the team level providing a vehicle for the regular and frequent output of business functionalities in a scheduled cycle. In Scaled Agile Framework it is called as the “Agile Release Train”. Program level also offers a structure for the Agile development teams to coordinate their planning related to business features and architecture, this keeps them aligned on the same path. SAFe promotes the “weighted shortest job first” i.e. it prioritizes the delivery of most valuable features. The final segment is the Portfolio level that provides a mechanism for predictable and visible delivery of the project’s roadmap goals. All the vision and strategic guidance Program level needs are received from the Portfolio level.

The Agile Release Train

The Agile Release Train

Teams jointly plan releases, usually, every 2-3 months working on the mantra, “develop on cadence, deliver on demand”. Along with the new business functionality, evolving architecture necessary to support the new functionality is also planned and developed ahead known as the “Architectural Runway”.

3. Portfolio Level

In Portfolio level, SAFe provides the vision and roadmap for development teams to work and prioritize their actions. SAFe Portfolio Management sees an organization’s strategy as an investment theme. The management roles than reviews each investment theme and allocate budget and resources to each theme depending on the predicted return on investment and strategy.

For tracking the movement, a Portfolio Backlog is compiled that lists all the large scale development items to be initiated. These can span over multiple releases. To keep control of the amount of work in progress and to optimize the development capability and to manage the flow of work, a Kanban style approach is used.

Scaled Agile courses are designed to benchmark your know-how of the SAFe framework. Based on the structure level, i.e. Team, Program, and Portfolio level, you will find SAFe courses. This brings us to the question:

Which SAFe® Certification Is Right For You?

SAFe® certifications have a highly recommended prerequisite of prior knowledge of Scrum and 5-year experience in project management, software development, testing, product management or business analysis. This is to ensure that individuals taking the SAFe exam have enough base to better understand the course.

Software engineers, testers, executives, managers, information officers, directors and leaders across all industries can benefit from the leading SAFe training course. Project management on a large, enterprise level is complicated and can frequently lead into dead-ends if the project activities are not aligned with the end goal. Once you have completed this course you will have the required knowledge of how to successfully apply SAFe methodology to your projects, transform your organization into an Agile model, and keep your team members aligned and motivated throughout the project.

There are various courses for SAFe® certifications. Which one will make a difference in your career and take it to next level?

Here are the SAFe® training courses to choose from to get SAFe certified:

Implementing SAFe® 4 With SAFe Program Consultant (SPC4) Certification

If you are an internal Agile exchange agent or consultant who wants to implement SAFe in your organization then this leading SAFe course is best suited for you.

This course is entirely focused around the Agile transformation of the enterprise, implementing SAFe throughout the enterprise, train teams with SAFeScrumXP, nurture executives and managers in leading SAFe and help you make a successful career as a SAFeAgilist.

This is a training course which will provide you with an expansive knowledge of the Leading SAFe. After completion of the course, you will know how to act as a certifying agent for the SAFeAgilists. You will have an in-depth knowledge of Agile principles like the Agile Architecture, Agile Programs and Agile Program Portfolio Management. The thorough know-how of these principles will help you enhance your team’s quality and will help you to implement Agile into your existing projects through SAFe.

Towards the end of the course, you will learn about the Agile Trains and how to use them to identify, plan and integrate them with SAFe programs. Once you are done with these two phases of training you will learn how to identify the value streams, plan and execute major events, launch Agile programs, prepare the enterprise, and implement effective measures and processes.

Leading SAFe® 4 With SA Certification

If as an Agile consultant, executive or manager you want to learn how to apply SAFe to lean down the product development workflows, then this is the course you need to pick.

This SAFe certification is to benchmark the knowledge of Lean and Agile practices of SAFe. Taking this course will teach you how to identify and embrace the true values of Lean and Agile, implement Release Trains, and implement Agile into your existing projects. Next, you will learn about building Agile Portfolios, executing and releasing values, and leading an Enterprise based on the principles of Lean and Agile.

Recommended prerequisites:

• Experience in Scrum

• 5+years of experience in testing, software development, business analysis, product or project management.

SAFe® 4 Advanced Scrum Master with SASM Certification

This SAFe certification will mostly benefit team leads, ScrumMasters, Agile coaches, managers, process champions and facilitators who use their skills and expertise to provide teams with a Scrum/Agile friendly environment to work in.

This course covers the SAFe methodology and underlying principles to build high-performance teams. You will learn about SAFe values, DevOps, Agile and Scrum anti-principles, Lean-Agile principles, quality engineering, Kanban for a smooth workflow, and Agile architecture.

Recommended prerequisites:

• Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification

• Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification

• SAFe® 4 Scrum Master (SSM) certification

SAFe® 4 For Teams With SP Certification

This certification targets the stakeholders of Release Trains. This Scaled Agile course teaches everything about the Agile team, how to build backlogs, and plan and build iterations.

A simple and concise course, it will brief you about SAFe and you will learn how to build Agile teams that can execute the program increments. You will also learn about planning and executing iterations. If you have knowledge of various agile principles like XP and Scrum, this course will further your understanding.

Recommended prerequisites:

• Knowledge of Scrum, Kanban and XP

• Familiarity with Agile principles and concepts

• Working knowledge of hardware and software development

SAFe® 4 Product Manager/ Product Owner With PMPO Certification

Product managers, business owners, product line leaders, business analysts and programs managers will benefit maximum going for this SAFe certification. This course readies you to work with associates in a Lean-Agile software enterprise and you learn how to work with associations efficiently.

On completion of the course you will have the knowledge to educate your team about the Agile software requirements, roles of Product Owners and Product Managers in an enterprise, how to manage backlogs, stakeholder management as well as how to deliver features in an enterprise.

Recommended prerequisites:

• Attend a Leading SAFe® course

• Experience with Lean, Agile, or other relevant certifications

• Experience working in a SAFe environment

These are the major Scaled Agile courses that you can choose from. A bit of research and consultation with other SAFe certified professionals will help you choose the right course. Consider your current role in the organization, the future prospect you are targeting within the organization and how would you like to help the organization to grow to choose the most suites SAFe certification.

What are the costs associated with SAFe® certification?

It is a must to take SAFe® training courses to receive a SAFe® certification. The course costs vary based on location. You can find the class detail and costs associated by visiting our Course Calendar.

Taking the certification exam

After completion of the SAFe course you are eligible to take the SAFe exam and upon passing you will receive the certification. When you pay for our courses you also pay for certification exam provided you take the exam within 30 days of the completion of the course.

However, if for some reason you are not able to take the exam within 30 days of the course, retake exams will cost you:

Course

Certification

Exam Retake Fee

Leading SAFe®

SAFe® Agilist

$50

SAFe® DevOps

SAFe® DevOps Practitioner

$50

SAFe® for Teams

SAFe® Practitioner

$50

SAFe® Scrum Master

SAFe® Scrum Master

$50

SAFe® Product Owner/Product Manager

SAFe® Product Owner/Product Manager

$50

SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master

SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master

$50

SAFe® Release Train Engineer

SAFe® Release Train Engineer

$50

SAFe® for Government

SAFe® Government Practitioner

$50

SAFe® Agile Software Engineer

SAFe® Agile Software Engineer

$50

Implementing SAFe®

SAFe® Program Consultant

$250

 

*PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL SAFe® CERTIFICATIONS ARE ONLY VALID FOR ONE YEAR

Renewing SAFe® certifications

You will have to renew your SAFe certifications after one year, by paying the renewal fee. The renewal cost associated with each SAFe certificate is different.

Certification

Renewal Fee

SAFe® Agilist

$100

SAFe® Practitioner

$100

SAFe® DevOps Practitioner

$100

SAFe® Scrum Master

$100

SAFe® Product Owner/Product Manager

$100

SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master*

$100

SAFe® for Government Practitioners*

$100

SAFe® Agile Software Engineer*

$100

SAFe® Release Train Engineer*

$295

SAFe® Program Consultant*

$895

SAFe® Program Consultant Trainer*

$895

Renewing SAFe® certifications

 

You can know more about the cost and benefits of renewing the certifications here.

Additional Exam Details

The format of SAFe exam for all certifications is the same, the only difference being in the passing percentage and prerequisites.

The exam format is Multiple Choice, Multiple Select and examinees have to answer 45 questions for a duration of 90 minutes (1.5 hours). There is no break once you start with the exam.

Candidates can access the exam only within the SAFe Community Platform. The exam is strictly web-based, single browser with no outside assistance allowed.

Passing score for each certification is different and it ranges from 73%-77%, i.e. to get SAFe certification you need to answer 33 to 35 questions correctly based on the SAFe exam you are taking.

Language of the exam is English only.

Exam Retake Policy:

The first retake of any SAFe exam can be done immediately after the first attempt. For the second retake, you need to wait for 10 days. The third retake requires a 30-day wait.

**First attempt fee is included with the SAFe course fee. For retake the exam you have to pay an additional fee as mentioned above.

Agile Center

Agile Center provides consultancy and training services in the following areas: Lean-Agile Transformation, Agile Strategy audit & implementation and Agile Program/Portfolio management.

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