SAFe RTE

Last post 06:55 pm August 30, 2021
by Sacred Bryant Casteel
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07:19 pm January 23, 2021

I just finalised reading SAFe 5.0 Distilled and I am thinking about Certified SAFe® Release Train Engineer certification. I am wondering, could I pass this certificate directly, or I need a low level certification, for example Scrum Master? Should I buy the course from training company (providing login to SAFe  community), or it will be enough to buy individual SAFe community membership and  pass throught all the learning matterial available there?

As well, would it be useful to pass it now or to wait for 6.0? Any info on when it could be launched?

09:51 pm January 23, 2021

I hate to say it, but if you think that the Scrum Master is lower level than a Release Train Engineer, you may need to do some more learning about Scrum.

10:29 pm January 23, 2021

Hi Eric, what I mean here is the difference between Foundation and advanced courses. SAFe Scrum Master has two levels:Scrum Master (SSM) and  Advanced Scrum Master (SASM). For RTE there is only one level and seems it is considered as advanced. I don't mean Scrum Master is lower level specialist than RTE. Peace ;) ✌️  

03:32 am January 24, 2021

Far as I know, a RTE is like a senior scrum master according to SAFe. It's the person who coordinates the Scrum of Scrums with their Scrum Masters on the Teams. They're also responsible for coordinating the dependencies and resources of new features that come down during PI planning... 

So, according to SAFe an RTE is a higher level than a Scrum Master. 

From what I've seen from job descriptions and interviewing with a couple of SAFe organizations over the last year, they would be looking for someone who is not only already CSM, but had like 5-8 years experience already.

But, knowing what I know about most companies looking for scrum masters, they want that level of experience to begin with. So, it might be even more than 5-8 years. 

I would like to learn if I am wrong though, if you could help expand on your reply @Eric Naiburg ?

05:15 am January 24, 2021

Far as I know, a RTE is like a senior scrum master according to SAFe. It's the person who coordinates the Scrum of Scrums with their Scrum Masters on the Teams

If a Scrum Master co-ordinated things for others, wouldn't they then be demonstrating a lower level of agile competence?

02:13 pm January 24, 2021

With regards to the question about being able to pass the assessment without having a Scrum Master certification, I've known people who have passed that exam with no prior Scrum Master certifications. However, these people already had some experience with SAFe and had attended the SAFe SA or SSM course. The last time I checked those prerequisites were recommended.

What outcomes are you hoping to get with the RTE certification? If you are currently working in an organization using SAFe and have experience as a Scrum Master, then the course might benefit you. If you are just looking to get the RTE to put on your resume, but have no experience, I'd look at other courses and try to gain some experience. I don't think many SAFe shops will hire a person without experience as a Scrum Master.

I wouldn't get hung up on certification versions. SAFe 5.0 came out roughly a year ago. You'll always have to worry about a new version coming out with SAFe if you go down that path.

The Scrum world is a lot bigger than SAFe. SAFe is only one scaling framework out there, and not all companies use it or need it. There are many Scrum Masters outside of SAFe with just as much experience (or more) with Scrum, who are coaching and bringing change to their organizations and helping them scale with other frameworks (when needed without all of the extra overhead SAFe brings). I don't think it is a bad thing to learn about it and what it has to offer.

03:46 pm January 24, 2021

If a Scrum Master co-ordinated things for others, wouldn't they then be demonstrating a lower level of agile competence?

Ian, I can't speak for SAFe personally, I'm not even certified in it, nor do I believe it to be one size fits all agile.

But, answering your question. The definition of coordinate is to provide directions, to direct. The definition of direct is to supervise or oversee (an activity or process).

I would imagine scrum masters all over the world are supervising or overseeing scrum events every day. I think it speaks more to a lack of understanding by the teams and company.

I'm not a fan of scaling, I would much prefer to decouple and keep things as small as possible to avoid the pitfalls that plague companies who try this approach. 

That being said, much like an agile coach will oversee the agile program of an organization and provide coaching to lesser experienced agilists, that is what an RTE is designed to do, from my understanding. 

Is that a lower level of agile competency?

06:16 pm January 24, 2021

That being said, much like an agile coach will oversee the agile program of an organization and provide coaching to lesser experienced agilists, that is what an RTE is designed to do, from my understanding. 

Is that a lower level of agile competency?

Agile coaching, and behaviors that evidence servant leadership, are some of the attributes of a good Scrum Master. Co-ordinating the things others do, and "overseeing" them, are not.

In Scrum, we promote the establishment of self-managing and self-directing teams at all times. A Scrum Master would not engineer a release train; he or she would reveal issues inhibiting the immediate use of work Done each Sprint, but would not resolve them. The accountabilities found in other frameworks will often hedge or otherwise compromise on this exacting standard, and a reduced level of agile competency is then indeed demonstrated.

08:23 pm January 24, 2021

I agree with you Ian, SAFe is not Scrum, nor is it Agile. But, I can make that same argument for Scrum. Both require you to establish a framework, which to some degree violates the self-managing and self-directing aspect of a team.

In fact, a Scrum Master is unnecessary, because they wouldn't need to pay someone to show them where their issues are, they'd use the Agile principles and values and the issues would make themselves apparent.

Any of these companies and their teams can at any time educate themselves on these values and principles, they don't need any expert to provide that knowledge to them. A lot of companies choose to hire a Scrum Master, or Agile Coach, or RTE though as a way of shortening that learning curve for their teams. 

 

09:34 pm January 24, 2021

A lot of companies choose to hire a Scrum Master, or Agile Coach, or RTE though as a way of shortening that learning curve for their teams. 

I'd suggest that if they hire someone who directs others, or supervises them, or oversees them, then their agile learning curve will be lengthened. The expected outcomes will be put in delay.

There is unquestionably a market appetite for "frameworks" of such a nature, because they demand less change in a traditional enterprise. The hierarchy of control can be mapped. Scrum requires comparatively very little as a framework, what it requires in practice is for significant change to happen.

09:38 pm January 24, 2021

Couldn't agree more, we're on the same page there Ian. Unfortunately, we somewhat derailed OP's original question, but a good discussion. :)

04:41 am August 29, 2021

I had the same question as OP. Based on what I researched, it’s better to take the SAFe scrum master certification first if you have not taken any course. Below link may help:

https://scaledagile.com/calendar/which-course-is-right-for-you/
 

I worked in a SAFe setup for over a year. My first impression was scrum meets CMMI. I worked for a level 5 organization before. However, I can say that in team level, we were still in charge so nothing has changed. The part that was stressful or tiring was the 2-3 days PI planning every quarter. Our work was more aligned and the upper management has more visibility. One of the challenges was making the process work for people who has no scrum background, people rejecting agile or scrum upfront (don’t want to change) and people who doesn’t give a d* because they’re retiring in 2-3 years (haha).