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SAFe in an embellished acronym that stands for Scaled Agile Framework. The lower-case “e” at the end turns SAF into SAFe, making SAFe “safe” an excellent marketing consideration. It portrays that SAFe is safe to practice and adds a level of safety by lowering risk in an enterprise. But which SAFe certification to choose?
This article is designed to help you make this choice and following are the topics that will be covered in it;
SAFe is an acronym that stands for Scaled Agile Framework. It is a set of organisation and workflow patterns intended to guide enterprises in scaling lean and agile practices. SAFe promotes alignment, collaboration, and delivery across large numbers of agile teams.
Now that you understand what the acronym is, you need to know what SAFe brings to the table.
Most people think of SAFe as a way to scale Agile, usually Scrum. That is true, but SAFe is so much more than that. As someone working on this field for quite a while, what I can tell you is that before the inception of SAFe, all Agile transformations resulted in hybrids.
The reason is simple. Scrum, the form of Agile used in the vast majority of enterprises, was originally designed for small teams at small organisations working on small projects. Every alteration to make Scrum fit the company was some non-Agile process.
Now, this is very important. Did people in the Agile community work on developing Agile ways to scale up Agile frameworks at organisations? Of course, they did. But what most organisations did were seat-of-the-pants modifications to systems to make them interconnect.
Unfortunately, many organisations did not get the desired results from their homegrown Agile transformation efforts and ended up turning back to non-Agile methods. That was highly unfortunate as it tarnished Agile and it cost many companies a lot of money while delivering little to no Return On Investment.
The primary cause that has been identified as the reason for failure was that the companies utilised inexperienced resources to implement Agile. But an additional factor was that a cohesive structure was not readily available to them for making the very essential transformation.
SAFe is a clear way to scale Agile structures such as Scrum and Kanban. It is a set of supporting structures that make Agile methods work in the larger context of the enterprise. Scaled Agile Framework as a system is important to understand because it gives organisations the connecting pathways they need. This is a huge reason to incorporate SAFe in any organisation that is planning to utilise Agile and get its employees SAFe Certified as well.
There is an argument that SAFe is very prescriptive, maybe a little more than needed. SAFe is a toolbox, and you don’t use what you don’t need. If all you need is the screwdriver, then you leave the hammer in the toolbox.
Seriously, though, I see the too prescriptive argument as an attitude to avoid learning new things. It is the same mentality you deal with in organisations where no one wants to change anything. This ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude limits heuristic evolution in both the individual and the enterprise. This ultimately beats the purpose of Agile. So, I dismiss it.
So what do I recommend?
First, if you have a year or more of experience in Agile, you can skip this section and move on to the next. If not, you need a little foundation in Scrum. To begin with, you shall need to take a Scrum class.
Now, is this contradicting what I wrote above; maybe a little? But just as you need to graduate from high school before University, you need Scrum before practising SAFe. There are several Scrum Master Certification Pieces of training, namely;
So, finally, on to the critical question. Which SAFe Certification to choose?
Scaled Agile has made its classes very easy to make a choice but the most basic ways to segregate the choices is as follows;
If you happen to be a Product Owner;
SPMPO is for you. It teaches you what is needed to benefit the organisation as a Product Owner.
If you happen to be a member of the Development Team:
The SAFe SP for teams Scaled Practitioner certification is what is you need to understand the responsibilities of the development team member in the large scale agile environment. This training also describes the DevOps/XP practices that are required to ensure high levels of quality assurance along with practices that improve the delivery flow for faster results.
If you happen to be a Manager, Director, or Executive:
The Leading SAFe SA Certification training is the correct choice for you. This training is designed to give you what you need to understand the whole framework from the management perspective. It also helps you in getting the mindset required to be successful.
It is a 2-day course which is a brilliant starting point for someone new to SAFe. It covers all the principles and practices of the Scaled Agile Framework and its Certification Exam. It teaches you what it means to lead Lean-Agile transformation and how to adopt a Lean-Agile mindset. This Leading SAFe training course is ideal for leaders in an organisation who want to contribute to the transformation team.
Learning Goals of the Course
Does this mean that if I am an Executive or a Scrum Master I will not benefit from taking a different class such as Product Owner training? No, that is not the assertion.
However, each SAFe training is designed and tested to be the right fit for each of the different roles. Anybody involved in development using SAFe will be better equipped if they attend as many SAFe classes as they can. But, if the participant attends a class that is aligned with the role they will serve in, they will be much better equipped to perform effectively in a SAFe environment.