What exactly is SAFe®?
Small teams have always been assumed in traditional Agile. Several approaches (Large-scale Scrum (LeSS), Scrum @ Scale, and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) have emerged in recent years. The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) is a collection of organisational and workflow principles designed to help businesses scale lean and agile methods.
SAFe® encourages big groups of agile teams to coordinate, collaborate, and deliver. It was created by and for practitioners, combining three distinct bodies of knowledge: agile software development, lean product development, and systems thinking.
“SAFe® is again the scaling framework of choice, leading with 35 percent of respondents,” according to the 14th Annual State of Agile Report for 2020. This is a 5% increase over last year.”
As a result, SAFe® certification seems like a good idea for any agilist or project manager. From the foundational Leading SAFe® through SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master to SAFe® for Government, Scaled Agile, Inc. offers a number of qualifications. The complete list may be seen here.
The technicalities of becoming a Certified SAFe® 5 Agilist will be discussed in this article.
Lean-Agile Principles (SAFe®)
SAFe® is built on 10 unchangeable Lean-Agile principles. SAFe responsibilities ®’s and practises are inspired and informed by these tenets and economic concepts.
- Examine the situation from a financial standpoint.
- Think in terms of systems.
- Assume a degree of variability and keep your alternatives open.
- Gradually improve with quick, integrated learning cycles.
- Milestones should be based on objective evaluations of working systems.
- Reduce batch sizes and manage queue lengths by visualising and limiting work in progress (WIP).
- Sync with cross-domain planning and use a cadence.
- Unlock knowledge workers’ intrinsic motivation
- Decision-making should be decentralised.
- Organize around the concept of value.
Competencies in Key Areas
The latest version of SAFe® is 5.0 as of this writing. It is divided into seven areas of expertise, all of which fall under the umbrella of Business Agility:
- Delivery of Enterprise Solutions
- Technical Agility and an Agile Product Delivery Team
- Leadership that is lean and agile
- Culture of Lifelong Learning
- Agility in the workplace
- Details about the Lean Portfolio Management Exam and Certification
A Certified SAFe® Agilist (SA) is a “Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) enterprise leadership professional who is part of a Lean-Agile transition,” according to Scaled Agile Inc.
Competency’s Key Areas
- Scale Lean and Agile development in the enterprise with SAFe®.
- Use the Lean-Agile mindset and principles to your advantage.
- Plan and carry out Program Increments successfully.
- Agile allows you to execute and release value. Trains that have been released
- With Lean-Agile budgeting, you can create an Agile portfolio.
Prerequisites for the Exam
Take the two-day Leading SAFe® course. Classes are required because the course includes all study materials as well as the exam.
5+ years of expertise in software development, testing, business analysis, product management, or project management. Scrum is the most prominent Agile framework.
The two-day Leading SAFe® course is presented by Scaled Agile, Inc. business partners and can be found on their website. Many are being done remotely due to COVID-19 constraints, while some are being done in person. Prices might range from $750 to $1195 USD, so shop wisely.
The exam is a timed, closed book, web-based multiple choice exam. The exam consists of 45 questions, and it must be finished in 90 minutes once it is started. The passing grade is 77 percent, or 35 correct answers out of 45. The exam is only available in English.
Before, during, or after testing, candidates are not permitted to replicate, utilise, or divulge any exam or test content in any form (digital, print, or verbal).
Exam Cost – If the exam is taken within 30 days after course completion, the first exam attempt is included in the course registration fee. Each try at a retake costs $50.
Exam Preparation Materials
Materials for the course — A Leading SAFe® workbook will be provided to you, which will cover the theory and practise of SAFe®.
Exam study guide – The exam study guide is comparable to the PMP® handbook published by the Project Management Institute. It is an overview of exam preparation and the breakdown of study topics from which questions are derived, rather than a list of advice.
“The practise test is designed to be predictive of success on the certification exam, and it includes the same number of questions, level of difficulty, and time period,” according to the Scaled Agile, Inc. website. It is free to take an unlimited number of times.” This isn’t the real thing, and completing it doesn’t guarantee you’ll pass the certification exam.
Question Examples – The example questions are available online and in the study guide in a web-enabled, flashcard-style format.
That’s what you get!
- A PDF certificate stating that you are a certified SAFe® Agilist.
- To promote your achievement online, get a digital badge as a Certified SAFe® Agilist. People looking at your LinkedIn profile, for example, will be able to verify your accomplishments thanks to the digital badge.
- Membership in the SAFe® Community Platform for a year, which includes access to the SA Community of Practice.
- You’ll have access to Meetup groups and events where you may meet other SAFe® certified experts.
- Case studies and videos are among the learning options available.
Checklist for Agilist Exam Preparation
- Choose a learning path, such as Scrum Master, Release Train Engineer, or DevOps, depending on where you are in your learning journey. There is no such thing as a “best” certification. It’s a matter of learning about the situation and then determining what role you’d like to play.
- Investigate and schedule the exam-related course.
- The course materials should be studied.
- Take the practise exam (and retake it if necessary).
- Take the actual test.
Note: While there are books about SAFe® on the market, we are not aware of any commercial study guides outside of what Scaled Agile, Inc. offers.
Come to the class!
The Leading SAFe® course is two days long and consists of a lecture and interactive exercises. Learning and understanding the Scaled Agile framework is critical not just for understanding SAFe® but also for passing the exam.
In addition to lectures, an exercise you might conduct in class is to mimic Program Increment (PI) Planning with your team. PI Planning is a “cadence-based, face-to-face event that acts as the heartbeat of the Agile Release Train, aligning all the teams on the train to a single mission and vision,” according to SAFe®.
As mentioned below, the training will give Professional Development Units and Scrum Education Units:
Learn and Study
Many test takers make the mistake of putting their books aside after class, assuming that they are either ready to take the exam or should take some time to relax. That is never a smart notion, and in fact, viewing the class as the start of your studies is the greatest way to approach learning. The material you got is still fresh in your mind, and the longer you wait to begin studying, the more you will forget.
Set aside time to examine the workbook and study for the exam every day (or at least five days a week if possible). It’s advisable to spread out your studying rather than cramming at the last minute.
Find a “study partner” from work or a network association if at all possible. You may both teach and challenge each other.
Take the Test
After you’ve completed the course, you’ll be able to access and take the exam via the SAFe® Community Platform. This is a “closed book” exam, which means you can’t utilise any outside information or help during the exam (including the SAFe® website or training materials). (NOTE: There is presently no proctor, thus this is an honour system.)
As previously stated, the exam must be finished within 90 minutes of the start time. There are 45 questions with an average time of 2 minutes per question. This doesn’t imply you have to spend two minutes on each question. However, because you are being timed, it is extremely beneficial to keep track of your time on each question. Take no more than two minutes. If you’re not sure, you can wait till later or make the best educated assumption you can. Negative marking is not used on the exam, thus you will not be punished if you answer a question incorrectly.
Policy on Exam Retakes
After the initial try, a second attempt (first retake) can be made right away. A 10-day delay is required for the third try. A 30-day delay is required for the fourth try.
In general, it is the rule in standardised testing that the test organisation makes you wait longer and longer. This is because they believe you are not prepared and require additional time to prepare.
Continue your educational journey.
It’s critical to stay current with your profession and the SAFe® community once you’ve earned your certification. You can do this by participating in the online community and other communities of practise, updating your expertise on a regular basis, and participating in SAFe® implementations.
Passing the SAFe® Exam and Getting Certified
Exam preparation should be approached as a project. Determine when you want to take it, then create a study strategy to get you there, and stick to it.
After class, take the exam as quickly as feasible. Some people may be ready straight immediately, particularly if they’ve worked with Scaled Agile, Inc. It will be no more than two weeks after the training for the majority of folks. For others, 30 days is a sufficient period of time. Scaled Agile, Inc. is a company that specialises in agile development.