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How Agile Hive Can Support SAFe® Certifications

For those looking to take their knowledge of Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) to the next level, the organization offers a variety of classes that verify successful completion on SAFe®-specific topics. This article focuses on the “SAFe® for Teams” certification, in particular how Agile Hive can play a part as an integral teaching tool for it.
How Agile Hive Can Support SAFe Certifications

To The Next Level And Beyond

Saying it aloud or putting it down on paper (physical or digital), that you’re knowledgeable on a topic or area of expertise is nice, but having third-party verification to back it up is worlds better. It’s a level of transparency, commitment, and dedication one can use to validate their efforts further.

And so it may come as no surprise that the authority in scaling Lean and Agile practices, SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework) offers coursework and subsequent certifications for a multitude of topics on the subject matter. Leveraging three areas of focus – Agile software development, Lean product development, and systems thinking – SAFe® provides the structure and know-how enabling alignment, collaboration, and delivery of products or services across teams of Agile teams.

Image benefits of SAFe certifications.

Source: © Scaled Agile, Inc., “Get SAFe Certified” 

An example of one of these courses is their SAFe® for Teams. Let’s take a closer look.

Direct From The Source

We couldn’t describe the course better than the folks at SAFe® themselves do;

SAFe® for Teams covers the tactical skills to be a high-performing member of an ART. The course also gives you the guidance and tools to work effectively in remote environments with distributed teams. Get the most out of your learning experience by taking it in context with your team and other teams on your ART.

SAFe for Teams will teach you how to plan and execute work, how to apply Scaled Agile Framework® and Agile principles, and how to continuously improve. Taking Scaled Agile Framework® for Teams gives your team the collective knowledge to collaborate effectively, do the best possible work, and hit the ground running before your next planning event.”

Putting it in context, a good many of you reading this article may be doing so either from a remote home office, a co-working space, a coffee shop – essentially somewhere other than the traditional office we recall prior to the Spring of 2020. “Work effectively in remote environments with distributed teams”, there it is in a nutshell.

Starting with an introduction to SAFe®, including the seven core competencies (Enterprise Solution Delivery, Lean Portfolio Management, Organizational Agility, Continuous Learning Culture, Lean-Agile Leadership, Team and Technical Agility, and Agile Product Delivery), the focus of the course revolves around the Agile Release Train (ART).

The ART is the primary construct for delivering value in SAFe® and is a “team of teams”, consisting of about 50-125 people bound together with a common vision, backlog, and roadmap. The ART plans, commits, and executes together and is centered around the organization’s value streams, providing both cadence and synchronization. And typically, an ART consists of a series of Planning Intervals (PIs) which are timeboxed to between 8 and 12 weeks long. The PI is for an ART similar to an Iteration for Agile teams.

Where The Work Really Happens

Here’s a brief look at the syllabus for the SAFe for Teams course.

SAFe for Teams answers the following questions:

  • How does an Agile team function inside of an ART?
  • How do we as an Agile team plan and execute iterations and the PI?
  • How do we work with other teams on the ART to effectively deliver value?

During the course, attendees will learn:

  • Your role on the team and your team’s role on the ART
  • How to apply SAFe principles to scale Lean-Agile delivery
  • How to plan and execute iterations and PIs
  • How to continuously improve the ART

As we can see, the ART and PI are the core areas of focus for this course. In the days prior to Spring 2020, PIs would occur almost exclusively in person over two days. Additionally, many of the tools and aids used during the PI were “old school” as we say; sticky notes, string/yarn for mapping dependencies, flip charts, whiteboards (non-digital), etc.

Now certainly things were slowly transitioning to digital updates of these tools, but that kicked into overdrive when the world went remote that Spring. Since then, a majority of us never returned to a physical office. As is the case with this author, a number of us began working for companies on the other side of the globe or at the very least, a different city or timezone. 

To reflect these workstyle changes, particularly in a course like SAFe for Teams which prepares participants for real-world applications of preparation of, and participation in, ARTs and PIs, it then makes sense to work hands-on with modern tools that will support and allow this to take place. 

Knock, knock – it’s Agile Hive!

SAFe In Jira Solution

In our article, “Managing Timezone Differences With Distributed Agile Teams”, the current ART in which our Agile Team finds itself – developers, marketing, product owner, team coaches – was kicked off and proceeds daily through each PI in a format that aligns with the teachings of SAFe for Teams. And the tool that made that possible was Agile Hive.

Additionally in 2023, when a handful of the Agile Hive team participated in the Implementing SAFe certification, those real-world examples of applying SAFe methodology were made possible with a detailed practice environment created within Agile Hive by our very own SPCT (SAFe Practice Consultant-T), Cindy VanEpps.

Agile Hive in action

As the SAFe for Teams coursework moves through topics such as creating the backlog, PI planning, team planning – again within the context of either a partially or fully remote “team of teams” – what better way to demonstrate these concepts than by using a tool that allows this work to occur in such an environment – the tool being Agile Hive.

Agile Hive for Jira Cloud – creating your hierarchies

Demonstrate how hierarchies are represented within your organization by building them in Agile Hive. You’ll learn how to create the backlog and then plan your features and strategy on a timeline, adjusting roadmaps and identifying the dependencies between teams using the drag-and-drop interface of the tool. Your teammates who fill roles such as Release Train Engineers, Product Owners, and Program Managers will be able to see what automated reports can be generated during the ART to better inform their decision-making processes. 

Agile Hive for Jira Data Center (DC)  - Roadmap planning showing dependencies.

Agile Hive for Jira Data Center (DC)  – Roadmap planning showing dependencies

As class participants begin to understand the purpose and rhythm of PIs, the importance of load vs. capacities, team interdependencies, and the like, Agile Hive can serve as that “single source of truth” during the instruction of the course, just as it does in a practical sense for organizations of all sizes across a wide variety of industries. 

Agile Hive for Jira Cloud - team reports

Agile Hive for Jira Cloud – team reports

Not every element of a course like SAFe for Teams or Implementing SAFe can be demonstrably played out as certain aspects center more around the general theory and concepts of SAFe, ARTS, and PIs. Still, it can help immensely to play out examples using a tool attendees may very well make use of where the work really happens!

The Student Becomes The Teacher

With a new SAFe certification under your belt, it’ll now be time to share and apply your knowledge within your organization. Your newly acquired skills certainly won’t solve all the problems you and your teams have been facing, but they will most definitely help you start tackling the biggest stumbling blocks and begin the process of substantive, incremental improvements.

Pairing that new knowledge with a tool like Agile Hive, and sky’s the limit. To learn more about how Agile Hive can be that linchpin, “single source of truth” through your entire SAFe® journey, each and every day as your “SAFe in Jira” solution, reach out to us to learn more and when you’re ready, schedule a demo with us!

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Joshua Brock

English content and technical writer, SPC

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