Scaled Agile (SAFe) Scrum Master

Last post 10:19 pm August 15, 2019
by Manjunatha Ramappa Yerdummi
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12:17 pm May 7, 2019

Before I start, anyone know the difference between 'Professional Scrum Master' (PSM) and 'Certified Scrum Master' (CSM)?

 

Anyway, has anyone had any experience of the SAFe Scrum Master course form QA? I am due to do it next month (with exam), looking for advice and guidance. I am already a certified scrum master looking to build on my knowledge and experience. Any pre-reading advice, resources, etc?

 

Thanks

06:06 am May 8, 2019

anyone know the difference between 'Professional Scrum Master' (PSM) and 'Certified Scrum Master' (CSM)?

Simple google search will give you the answer:

https://www.knowledgehut.com/blog/agile/csm-or-psm-which-certificate-is…

09:20 am May 8, 2019

SAFe, as the name suggest, is not "scaled Scrum" but pretend to be "scaled Agile". In theory, the teams are free to choose their "local" framework (Kanban, XP, Scrum...).

But SAFe use also the term coming from Scrum of Scrum Master and Product Owner, not defined in Kanban or XP...

SAFe has its own definition of the Scrum Master and Product Owner roles, definitely not the same as in the Scrum Guide

See https://www.scaledagileframework.com/scrum-master/

And https://www.scaledagileframework.com/product-owner/

 

04:58 pm May 8, 2019

As @Olivier said, SAFe is a Scaled Agile Framework and not Scaled Scrum. Yes, it uses many of the same terminology but it is a very strong mix of Kanban, Scrum, Lean, etc.  They borrow a lot of things from a lot of different frameworks/processes.  There is even a bit of waterfall thrown in.  I'm not saying it isn't a good framework, it is just entirely different from Scrum.  Being a Scrum Master in SAFe is a completely different job than a Scrum Master in Scrum or Scaled Scrum.

As for the difference between PSM and CSM.  CSM is achieved by taking a fairly expensive class where they tell you everything you need to take a test.  The test can be taken over as long as you want so that you have plenty of time to look up any answer you might need and has a pretty low pass percentage.  PSM is a test you can take at any time without being required to take a class and at a fraction of the cost of the CSM.  You have a set time limit to answer a set number of questions and the passing percentage is much higher.  My personal opinion is that the PSM does a better job of testing your actual knowledge and I respect people that hold that certification over the CSM.  And yes, I have both mostly because my current employer was willing to pay for me to get both. But as with many that hold or have held the CSM, I will most likely let mine lapse instead of paying the fee to renew it. 

07:31 am May 10, 2019

Being a Scrum Master in SAFe is a completely different job than a Scrum Master in Scrum or Scaled Scrum.

I don't necessarily agree with you on this part. I teach both SAFe courses as well as Scrum courses and I am a Scrum Master in an Agile Release Train. Although I like to teach the Scrum classes a lot more than the SAFe stuff, in practice it's not per se very different. It just requires a lot more alignment with other teams, but that you would have in a Nexus framework, too. I do think that Nexus is very underappreciated and could replace 4 out of 10 ARTs at minimum, but it's a buzzword in the industry so a lot of companies are adopting SAFe blindly. But everything else is still there, with some tweaks. If you really follow it by the letter, then yeah, it'll have some changes. But that would remove the agility that comes with it in most cases. 

07:33 am May 10, 2019

Anyway, has anyone had any experience of the SAFe Scrum Master course form QA?

I can recommend to really read the questions well, take time to prepare, have an open tab from the SAFe website as it is an "open book" exam (although you need to distill the answers from a huge pile of text). Good luck on the exam!

10:22 am May 10, 2019

It is my mistake that I mixed "agile" with "scrum". I started reading this forum and asking questions in my company why we do not work according to scrum. It turned out that we use methodology similar to SAF (scaled agile) not scrum. The differences which I know are:

- product owner is not one person, we have BRO (business requirement owner), project managers, product directors, solution managers

- standups do not need to be daily - it is up to the team to decide

Communication and different cultures is a problem, in one team we have persons from three countries and different continents.

I take this chance to ask again - I might ask a separate question. Can we use scrum when having persons from different continents in the team ? Is it relevant that we do not have direct customer representative in our work ?

Regards,

Marek

10:45 am May 10, 2019

Can we use scrum when having persons from different continents in the team ?

Is there anything that limits you from doing so?

 Is it relevant that we do not have direct customer representative in our work ?

Is that during development, like a team member, or even involved in reviews etc? 

01:49 pm May 10, 2019

Sander, answering your first question, yes, my managers limit me, because they define according to what methodology we should work. I have asked my question in order to find out whether there are companies who are working according to scrum with inter-country teams having 5 hours time difference. 

This is what I heard from my director: "scrum has started from co-located team who worked for one customer". This was said as argument for using SAF methodology instead of scrum in our company. That's reason for my question - are there companies who are working according to scrum and not having customer representative even on sprint review meetings. There might be other stakeholders who listen and give opinions.

02:12 pm May 10, 2019

My question to you was more to trigger you in thinking about the answer yourself, what I meant was that Scrum doesn't limit itself to boundaries of location. It would probably be more convenient for communication and that kind of factors to be co-located, but that doesn't mean that you can have a Scrum Team that has 4 developer here and 2 elsewhere (for example). This isn't fixed by using SAFe either. Even worse, SAFe is even more harsh on when to communicate like with PI planning event, where Scrum itself leaves this more up to the teams and team members to figure this out themselves. I don't mean that it's less convinient, but it does put a stripe through the arguments of your managers.

To even double the issue, if management defines this, how self-organizing can the teams be?

Of course other stakeholders can be present to voice their request, desires and wishes, but if the customer and/or user is missing, how is the transparency on end-value being limited?

02:28 pm May 10, 2019

@Sander   

I don't necessarily agree with you on this part.

I like your answer and guess I really didn't think of it in that way.  Thanks for the clarification.

@Marek

Having geo dispersed teams does not rule out Scrum.  It actually happens frequently with companies in this global economy.  Your director is correct that Scrum originated with co-located teams but, as with everything agile, it has evolved. Given the advances in instant communication capabilities, it isn't as difficult as you would think. We have done Sprint Planning where EVERYONE on the team was working from home for a day as an experiment. We were all connected in a Microsoft Teams channel using headsets and screen sharing.  It wasn't as great as being in the same room but it was effective. They key is getting the people on the team to actually communicate and remember that the remote people need to know as much as the people sitting next to them. I fixed that once by mounting web cams on the wall above the areas in which the team members sat and put a monitor on the wall.  All the team had to do was look up to see if someone they needed to communicate with were at their desks.  They actually liked it and started having fun with it.  They put up signs with messages to each other, one team would wear funny hats all day, others would actually switch desks for a day.  

As for the rest of your answers, keep reading @Sander's comments.  He has said things much better than I could ever do it.  He and Ian have a real knack for this stuff.  :-)

02:36 pm May 10, 2019

They put up signs with messages to each other, one team would wear funny hats all day, others would actually switch desks for a day.  

That's briliant! 

keep reading @Sander's comments.  He has said things much better than I could ever do it.  He and Ian have a real knack for this stuff.  :-)

I really appreciate the compliment!:) 

08:42 pm May 10, 2019
  • To even double the issue, if management defines this, how self-organizing can the teams be?

We have freedom to choose on which issue given person work. Of course, many things depend on communication between people. All my life I have not been interested in communication, rather in technical or mathematical problems. Now I am more interested in inter-personal relations, when I am getting old. What I have discovered lately is that cooperation is better than competition at work. It is kind of philosophical issue and I have to accept that the other person is different than me. Every person has some unique skills which he/she can bring to the team work. This I found out from Covey's book. Other person can fill my gaps. For this to work I need to be open to communicate my needs and listen to the others. 

  • Of course other stakeholders can be present to voice their request, desires and wishes, but if the customer and/or user is missing, how is the transparency on end-value being limited?

I am not sure I understand what "transparency on end-value" means and how it can be limited. 

05:15 pm May 13, 2019

I am not sure I understand what "transparency on end-value" means and how it can be limited. 

I believe the question was in regards to a key tenet in Scrum.   Scrum is based on Empiricism, which greatly aids and improves other Agile frameworks and methodologies.

Empiricism consists of three pillars: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.   Quick feedback loops, learning, and the ability to pivot as needed based on what is learned are all huge benefits to working this way.

So back to the question - how can you work in an empirical way if you have no way of validating (with customer/end-user) that what you are delivering is actually valuable?

06:41 am May 14, 2019

I am not sure I understand what "transparency on end-value" means and how it can be limited. 

Timothy is touching the right spot: 

how can you work in an empirical way if you have no way of validating (with customer/end-user) that what you are delivering is actually valuable?

Of course there is some value is other stakeholders are present. But the ultimate way of measuring whether or not we as a team are able to deliver the real value (what I meant by end-value) is by involving the client/customer/users. Not having them present limits the transparency on this goal is achieved. Maybe they provide feedback through a stakeholder, that passes it to the team. But often this not correctly understood or translated in different way than the client meant. 

01:50 pm May 14, 2019

We have usually selected customer representative, who is the person from consulting, implementing at customer site. Such person should know given country or market requirements. We discuss solution with such person and present half-product on the sprint review meetings (Customer Representative can be present on some of them).

I am working all my professional life in product development department - not having contact with real customer. Sometimes we discuss support issues with them.

As I said we are working according to methodology close to SAF, not scrum.

Regards,

03:33 pm May 14, 2019

Marek,

The 1st Agile Principle states the following:

"Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software."

You state that some of the time, your team interacts with a "customer representative" from the consulting organization who is on-site with the customer and should know market requirements.

Does it sound to you that you are effectively and consistently validating the value being delivered to your end-users, when your interaction with them is only sometimes, and only through a proxy when it does happen?

I am working all my professional life in product development department - not having contact with real customer.

If this is true, how have you determined throughout your career that you are delivering product(s) that delight your customers?

 

11:25 am May 15, 2019
  • Does it sound to you that you are effectively and consistently validating the value being delivered to your end-users, when your interaction with them is only sometimes, and only through a proxy when it does happen?

Hard to say, because I am rarely talking to real customer (just a moment, a customer is calling me). We are producing software which is sold to many customers. How could we invite customer representatives onto our sprint review ? Consulting organizations in different countries are reporting requirements based on their knowledge of the market. These are legal and market requirements. We are selecting which ones are to be included in standard product. Later we support standard product by correcting bugs are adding adjustments. I don't know how could we validate the value delivered to end-users.
It is funny, because while writing this answer I have spoken to real customer :)

  • If this is true, how have you determined throughout your career that you are delivering product(s) that delight your customers?

You know, delivering ERP system to the customer is not only a matter of a product. We deliver also consulting services, train the users, support the version. We earn money on support as well. From technology perspective we are uplifting our product to new UI in order to delight the customer. What I do is I design the product to fulfill the requirements. These requirements I do not receive directly from the customer as I said earlier.

 

Regards,

Marek

09:44 pm August 15, 2019

Scrum Master role is same and should be same in any of the Scaling frame works either SAFe , LeSS or Nexsus or DAD.

What you need to understand is that scrum is framework for team cadence and scaling concept is all together a different.

A scrum master job will not change in any of the scaling framework.

SAFe is simply an effort to implement Agile team cadence framework at different hierarchy of organisation (Portfolio management , Program management, and Team level etc) and making it LEAN by implementing KAIZEN concepts ( its totally varied based up on the production environments , tailoring to needs does matter ) , Integration and co-ordination is always a challenge in tops down approach. SAFe was introduce in year 2011 but i have witnessed the scaling was done prior in massive production environments. Just because some one knows SAFe concepts does not guarantees or certifies to be a master to operate agile at SCALE( holds good for other frameworks also).  

I think what people needs to know is about concepts DEFINED by SIR William Edwards Deming.

 

Scrum Master needs to be servant leader first,  Sir Willam Edward explains the difference between a JAPANESE mind set of running an industry & Americans mind set. My only request to the world is create a real LACE( Lean Agile Centre of excellence)  not a LACE to drive Business or money . SAFe is still long way to go (its not easy), but its only frame work which at least made an effort to bring AGILE at various hierarchies of organisation.

There are many companies which is more oriented to engineering quality standards/practices where SAFe or any other frameworks does not completely fits in; in there skill fully tailoring the scaling framework does matters.

IEEE/IEC/ ISO did made effort to implement the Agile concepts in software engineering practice; but it was defined at a decomposed level, which should not have been the case.

 

 

10:19 pm August 15, 2019

What exactly Sir Edward Deming realised way back in 1984.