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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.

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