Whether you’re just starting out on your journey with the Scaled Agile Framework, or you’re already progressing your way through the implementation roadmap – it can be confusing to know which is the best and most suitable course for you.
With 13 different SAFe certifications available, it’s perhaps easy to see where that confusion comes from.
So, to help understand each of the varying SAFe courses and to ensure that you’re able to choose the right course for you, we’ve broken down a few of the most popular SAFe courses below, and summarised the key differing factors for each.
SAFe training focuses on developing the seven core competencies that are key to an organisation attaining Business Agility. Each course is intended to educate an individual in the competencies required for them to effectively practice their specific role in a SAFe environment.
SAFe Agilist: Leading SAFe (2 Days)
Although Leading SAFe, at least from a technical point of view, is aimed at those in management and leadership roles – in reality, this training programme is actually the best place for any individual to start their journey with the Scaled Agile Framework.
Often thought of as the ‘boot-camp’ of the Scaled Agile Framework, it’s the ideal starting point – providing a great overall introduction to SAFe, as well as a detailed summary of the big picture and of the framework itself. Although there are no official prerequisites for this course, it does assume that participants have at least a working knowledge of Agile.
The course provides valuable insights into why mastering Business Agility is necessary to thrive in today’s digital age. Attendees will learn the principles and practices underlying the mindset needed to provide the Lean-Agile Leadership necessary to establish Team and Technical Agility and organise around value streams. Agile Product Development at scale requires you to embrace the skills needed to support and execute PI Planning events and coordinate multiple Agile Release Trains (ARTs). You will spend some time understanding how to use Lean Portfolio Management to create and execute an agile strategy before the course finishes with a section on how to lead change, including a tour of the SAFe Implementation Roadmap.
It is highly recommended, although not mandatory, that individuals undertake the Leading SAFe course before progressing onto the more specific SAFe role-based classes. Without attending Leading SAFe first, it could mean that attendees miss out on valuable insights into SAFe Principles, PI Planning, and the Lean Mindset – as these areas are covered in much less detail in the other courses.
Therefore, if you want to specifically increase your knowledge and skills in these areas, the Leading SAFe course would be your best starting point.
Full course overview: SAFe Agilist: Leading SAFe
SAFe Product Owner / Product Manager (2 Days)
As the title implies, the SAFe POPM course is aimed at those working on an Agile Release Train (ART) and performing the role of either the Product Owner (PO) or Product Manager (PM). Around two-thirds of the training is focused on the PO role, and roughly one-third of the content is PM focused. Although it pays some attention to Lean-Agile Leadership, it primarily deals with Agile Product Development and Team & Technical Agility.
Attendees can expect to develop a solid foundation of how to work as the Product Owner in a Scrum or Kanban team planning and executing Program Increments and Iterations. The Product Owner in SAFe works as part of a development team and acts as the interface between them, Product Management and the customers.
Participants will gain the tools and techniques needed to undertake the Product Owner’s role in helping their organisation formulate and communicate strategic objectives and a vision, which are used to inform product decision making.
Through practical exercises they learn how to move Epics through the SAFe roadmaps and backlogs, collaborating with others to refine them into Features for the Program Backlog, then finally into User Stories that can be planned into individual Team Backlogs ready for development.
Along the way they learn to identify and create benefit hypotheses, acceptance criteria and non-functional requirements. They sequence the work using WSJF and use User Story Mapping to break the work down into releasable chunks. Scrum and Kanban are used to manage the flow of work and attendees learn how the culture of DevOps manifested by the Continuous Delivery Pipeline accelerates the delivery of value.
This, of course, all takes place within the SAFe framework and the participants are taught how to collaborate with the other roles present in the Agile Release Train (ART) in order to deliver the objectives they and their team agree with their Business Owners during PI Planning.
Full course overview: SAFe Product Owner / Product Manager
SAFe Agile Product Manager (3 Days)
As the name would suggest, this course is aimed specifically at Product Managers working within a large scale environment. So, whereas the POPM course focuses around 70% of its content on the Product Owner, this course really dives deep into the role of the Product Manager.
Attendees will explore the use of Design Thinking and User Experience techniques to create a customer centric organisation that develops desirable, feasible and sustainable products. You’ll gain a deep understanding of how to define a vision, strategy, and roadmap to tap into new markets, and satisfy existing customers while also attracting new ones.
Following the course, you’ll be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to deliver exceptional products and solutions that not only delight customers, but also align with your organisation’s strategy, portfolio, evolving architecture, and solution intent. You’ll discover how continuous exploration fuels innovation, while also gaining the guidance and tools needed to work effectively in remote environments with distributed teams.
Full course overview: SAFe Agile Product Management
SAFe Lean Portfolio Management (2 Days)
This is an advanced level course, aimed at individuals working on major change programmes or managing multi-product portfolios. The content is particularly relevant to anyone who participates within a portfolio, specifically those who are responsible for financial governance or hold key portfolio roles. This includes Head of PMOs, Agile PMOs, LACE members (Lean Agile Center of Excellence), RTEs as well as Traditional Programme Managers.
SAFe Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) provides a Lean-Agile way of structuring and managing complex portfolios – removing bureaucracy, delivering benefits earlier and informing better decision making. The SAFe LPM course describes the tools and techniques required to implement LPM, including portfolio visualisation, demand management and the alignment of stakeholder groups.
Compared with other SAFe training, this course provides much more detail around strategy, governance, planning, forecasting and budgeting – and how to practically apply and integrate these ideas at a Portfolio level to increase your Business Agility.
Full course overview: SAFe Lean Portfolio Management
SAFe Practitioner: SAFe for Teams (2 Days)
SAFe for Teams and its accompanying SAFe Practitioner certification differs from the other SAFe training courses in that, as the title implies, it is intended for teams rather than individuals. For that reason, it is not offered as a public course but delivered to whole teams.
Its purpose is to prepare team members for their role as participants in an Agile Release Train (ART). The training is often used as part of the preparation for launching an Agile Release Train but is applicable to any team joining an ART at any time. We also train supplier teams who need to participate in customer ARTs.
Focused mainly on the Team and Technical Agility competence, this course introduces SAFe and Agile and gives an understanding of the various roles in an Agile Release Train and how they participate in the Scrum and SAFe events that are part of a Program Increment.
Using their own backlogs, attendees experience refining features into user stories with acceptance criteria, estimating backlogs and using them to plan the iterations of a Program Increment in a PI Planning simulation.
Full course overview: SAFe Practitioner: SAFe for Teams
SAFe for Architects (3 Days)
This is another very role specific course, and is aimed at those either undertaking, or aspiring to undertake, any of the architect roles within the Scaled Agile Framework (i.e. System Architect, Solution Architect or Enterprise Architect).
Through the lens of a case study, the SAFe for Architects course prepares individuals, in any of the aforementioned Architect roles, to engage across the organisation as effective leaders and change agents capable of collaboratively delivering the architectural runway that supports the development of business solutions.
Attendees explore every aspect of SAFe Architects, including roles, responsibilities and mindset. Following the course, individuals will understand how to collaborate with Product/Solution Management to align architecture with business value, and drive the delivery of a continuous flow of value to large systems-of-systems while supporting SAFe program execution.
It is recommended that individuals undertake at least one other SAFe course before progressing on to SAFe for Architects.
Full course overview: SAFe for Architects
SAFe Release Train Engineer (4 Days)
The work of the SAFe Release Train Engineer (RTE) is to successfully facilitate and enable end-to-end value delivery through Agile Release Trains (ARTs).
This course teaches and equips individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to become an effective SAFe RTE – capable of building high-performing ARTs, through servant leadership and coaching.
Attendees will also gain an in-depth understanding of the role and responsibilities of a Release Train Engineer (RTE) in the SAFe enterprise, and learn how to prepare, plan, and execute a Program Increment (PI) planning event.
Prior to attending this course, it’s highly recommended that participants will have launched or participated in at least one ART and one PI event, and undertaken at least one other SAFe course.
Full course overview: SAFe Release Train Engineer