Leading SAFe Training and Certification

In my current department, we are actively pursuing the introduction of SAFe. SAFe is, in short, a scalable framework, that enables a company or a part of a company to develop value for its customers much better.

SAFe, at least for me, breaks with some old habits of large and small companies alike. The product is not the primary focus, even though it is an important artifact that has to be delivered.

SAFe concentrates more on the value itself, that is being generated for a customer. And this is for me the real change.

How is the learning path?

My learning path started from a complete different side to be fair. I wanted to find a way how the enable agile teams to show their accomplishments more between releases. It was important for me, as I have the feeling that it is an underestimated part of a teams work-life.

I believe, that each team tries their best to deliver an increment for the users or for the product itself. Thus began my journey to SAFe.

In parallel to my work, others started already the SAFe route. Over the course of a few weeks we finally met and an initial training as per the SAFe implementation roadmap was set up.

Leading SAFe Training

I had the Leading SAFe training around three weeks ago, but could only yesterday write the exam.

The training itself was very useful to identify pain points and rifts that came up during a lot of discussions.

I think that SAFe with its dual operating model is a difficult thing to wrap ones head around when it comes to old habit managing of people. In addition SAFe builds upon the concept of agile teams.

But back to the training: The material that the SAFe community provides is really good and it was the first class and certification in which I only had one website to go to. The SAFe website itself and nothing else.

My opinion on SAFe

For me, SAFe is a very interesting framework. Establishing it in an organization depends heavily on where the organization stands.

In case the organization is already fully agile it is easy to start. The motivations behind SAFe as well as the more common agile values are pretty similar and sometimes just have different names.

On the other side are organizations that have nothing to do with agile and are working with a waterfall model or something comparable. I think SAFe is a great way to start. The change from waterfall to SAFe seems larger at first than it actually is. SAFe has similar events and the dual operating model makes it a perfect fit for 50% of the hierarchy view. The other 50% are the hard part to crack. Within organizations that have a lot of drive, those other 50% are not tough to get through.

In case you are currently in an agile transformation, I believe SAFe is not the right thing. But why? Especially considering that on the waterfall side I would consider SAFe. While being in an agile transformation there is already a lot of change happening and clearly you have decided against SAFe for good reasons. So why to change now? The plan that was worked on should be finished and not broken for the next framework. Changing the course of the ship is most often never a good idea, while it is at full speed. Once the agile transformation has a mature state, just have a look at SAFe and work on it then.

Can we implement SAFe in parts?

Depends which parts.

Parts of SAFe? No

Parts of the company or organization? Yes and it even is encouraged and designed in a way where establishing it in only parts of the organization is a good thing.

Just thing of it as a slow start to something new. Do you want to throw over your whole value generation at once? I don‘t believe so if it is not for dire reasons. Take your time in implementing it and implement it right. Then scale it up to more parts of the company or organization.

Learning for the certification

I have to be honest here and say, that I had a hard time learning for the certification. It is a lot of lists, bullet points and graphics to learn for the certification. In real life, you would always be able to go back to the website and quickly check, but in the certification you are not allowed.

So I learning from the printed guide and the website. Learning itself is not at all around technical themes, which are typically better for me. But all the learning is around organization, events, responsibilities etc. Not my strongest points.

The test exam is okay. It is a collection of static questions that are more there to get you into the flow of the types of questions, but not the concrete questions for the exam.

The exam itself

The SAFe exam is set for 1,5 hours and that is a fair time. I did not need 100% of the time to finish the exam but it is nice as it gives you enough time to read the questions and think about them.

As it always is with exams of this kind, some questions are harder than others. In total I think the exam is fair.

As per the exams guidelines I am not allowed to write to much about it.

Should you go for it?

The last question that I want to try to answer is, if the SAFe certification is something for you.

It depends on your environment:

  1. If you implement SAFe in your company, then check the exam and do it. I think the money is well spend and you learn a lot.
  2. If you are just interested in scaling of agile teams or organization then I think it is less of a clear „Go for it“. It depends what your company does.
  3. If you are a project lead, that is working in a model that resembles more the waterfall model or something comparable, I would totally give SAFe a try. It is not that much different and certainly something that you can use to enhance your teams.

In case you have any further questions, just leave a comment 🙂

If you take the test, I wish you best of luck for it!

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