Over the past 10 months I had the opportunity to participate in two SAFe courses; Leading SAFe, and SAFe Advanced Scrum Master.
SAFe recommends that everyone should take this course prior to the start of a SAFe initiative. I absolutely agree. With that said, it can be somewhat frustrating when you’re bombarded with concepts and terminology that are unfamiliar to you. However, the upside is that you’re able to experience those “ah ha” moments when you come across these concepts in your SAFe journey.
Due to scheduling conflicts it can be difficult to start with this course. In fact, I’ve worked with some people that went through an entire Program Increment (PI) before they took this course. Since the organization should be staffed with SAFe Program Consultants (SPCs), my recommendation is that this course should be part of the on-boarding process.
Finally, it is my belief that anyone who takes the course (as required by the organization) should be required to take and pass the exam. The organization has made the investment in training and the human resources should be required show that they made an effort to understand the concepts and hopefully apply them. The added benefit to the course attendee is that they achieve the SAFe Agilist certification.
SAFe Advance Scrum Master:
Due to my Agile experience I decided to forego the SAFe Scrum Master course and jump right into this one. This course is typically not offered at organizations and may require travel. The added complexity is that it is not highly sought after so it can be difficult to find an offering that does not end up getting canceled.
After a few attempts, I was able to find an offering in Chicago. I took the two-day course over a weekend. There were seven attendees most of whom were not currently “doing” SAFe. I found this odd that they were taking an advanced course on something they currently were not practicing.
The majority of the course re-iterated the concepts form Leading SAFe. It was definitely a good refresher. But the course also focused on key XP practices like Test Driven Development (TDD) and Pair Programming. We did not actually perform those techniques but the idea was that Scrum Masters should advise/teach/coach their teams on these valuable techniques.
Soon after the course I took the exam (and passed) which was much harder than the SAFe Agilist exam.