We’re going to be talking a little bit today about the importance of SPC, and I will introduce Kreisler in just a second but a quick comment about cPrime for those that are unfamiliar. cPrime is one of the largest Agile training and consulting firms in the company, we’re really focused on helping our clients drive Agile and DEVops success through a bunch of different offerings. You can see on this slide here that we really focus on the people process and technology of Agile, and that can be anything from transformations and scaling and assessments on the process side to migrations and licensing of software where we are the largest reseller of Atlassian tools in the United States as well as people filling open head count, contracts to higher full time people and such. That’s a little bit about cPrime.
My name is Kreisler and I am the Agile Practice Lead at cPrime. First of all, I’m super psyched about just the mass attendance, very awesome. It really tells me that there is a market demand for this and we will talk about that market demand as well for SPCs.
I’ll start off with an SPC. It’s a SAFe program console, I’m sure a number of people on this call are aware of that. It’s another certification acronym. Sometimes, with some of my colleagues, we cut around that, we collect certifications of alphabet soups in the backend piece, but let me tell you that SAFe is one of the hottest certifications out there, and I say it particularly for the masses. What I mean for the masses or change agents out there, if you’re running an Agile transformation, is there are other certifications such as the SAFe program consultant trainer, which is an SPCT. That’s the highest level that Scaled-Agile offers, or a SCT, which probably most people are familiar with. That’s a Scrum Alliance certified Scrum trainer.
What I will say about those is those are definitely highly coveted but they’re definitely longer paths to get there. If you intend to build your career and your life’s career of the Agile community in driving change, then by all means I encourage you to go after those certifications but what I will say is that SPC is something that’s a shorter pathway … I’m not saying it’s by any means easy to get but it’s a shorter pathway and it gives you the tool sets immediately to drive value to your organization as well as your career.
Now, in terms of where the SPCs come from. This is a list I pulled from Scaled-Agile Academy, and it lists a number of common people or types of roles that come from SCCs. Whether you are on the call and you’re a professional service consultant, you’re an independent consultant or coach, you’re a business or a technology leader, or an executive within your company, you may be the PMO, or you’re a program manager for instance, you’re in development QA or IT management, you’re on the product manager’s side or even an architectural side, these are common folks that come from SPCs.
Now, that’s not to say that if you’re sitting on this call and you’re thinking, “Hey, I really don’t fit under one of these roles.” That doesn’t mean that you don’t qualify to get an SPC. I’ll talk about that pathway to get there to put you in positions to where even if you don’t have these roles you can get on your way toward an SPC.
In terms of organizing this webinar, I like to use Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. If you’re not familiar with Simon Sinek, he’s this gentleman that pops up here on your right. He had a best seller that was launched a few years ago, it was called Leaders Start with Why, and he makes the argument thought studies and, actually biological studies and science really around why organizations and the leaders that start with why, with that most inner circle, why they exist, what their purpose? They outperform other organizations, and actually they dominate their market. So I like to organize my webinar and, really in how I approach things in life is really this Golden Circle. I start with why am I doing this, how do I get there, the second outer circle and then the, what? If you don’t have time to read this book, I definitely recommend you to YouTube it, Golden Circle, it’s a really famous Ted Talk. I think at one point it probably had one of the most views of Ted Talks.
This entire presentation, I’m going to first start with the why, why should I get an SPC, how you get there, what’s the path to get there and then what do you actually do once you have that SPC?
The first why I want to talk about is personal alignment to the Scaled-Agile mission. Another book I like to allude to, if you haven’t noticed, I am … I’ll talk about it again, I’m a big fan of reading and being a life long learner on that. Daniel Pink has a famous book, it was a best seller as well, talking about the intrinsic motivation for knowledge workers. One of those intrinsic motivations was purpose. If you read this and the Scaled-Agile Mission statement, think about does it resonate with you? Do you believe that Lean-Agile principles and practices really can help your organization or organizations? Do you believe in increasing employee engagement? Do you believe in better business outcomes, practicing these principles and values? If this really resonates with you, which it did when I first read it, this is one of the main reasons why I decided to pursue an SPC and practice Scaled-Agile Framework as well as transformations is for this reason.
A couple of things I want to outline when you break down this Scaled-Agile Mission statement is system and software dependent enterprises, I think of this as … obviously this came from the software world, the framework and some of the principles, but also came from manufacturing, but I think a lot of the principles you learn in the course itself are applicable in non-software environments, Same thing as when you see Agile adoption being adopted my marketing groups or finance groups, very similar. I want to draw that parallel.
In terms of increasing employee engagement, call me an optimist, I know some people have called me that, but I think employee engagement is one of those metrics that is on the same part, if not the same part as revenue and growth and profit. Things like that, financial numbers. The reason why is they’ve done countless studies on this and employee engagement mirrors growth and the success of a company. We’ll talk a little bit about that, how SAFe does that a little bit later in this webinar. But, again, if you find this mission statement resonates with you, I think it’s a very strong reason of why you should pursue an SPC.
Now, the second why I want to over is just simply … there’s just exponential growth in the SAFe community. I find it very exhilarating when you find like-minded people out there and being part of something bigger. I pulled some numbers here from the SAFe summit that was the last year, it’s almost six months old actually, and so 79% of US Fortune 100 enterprises have SAFe-trained practitioners. At the time this was 77,000 SAFe training practitioners in 80 countries. I just heard about two weeks ago that that number is above 120,000 already actually. 5,300 SPCs in 50 countries, I’m sure that number has grown beyond the 6,000. As well as there is a number of case studies, and I encourage you to find out what’s the value in it for me going back to one of the poll questions, is to go look at the case studies, SAFe case studies, there’s a number of them, they’re constantly publishing them. I can’t even keep track. I think there’s one every two to four weeks that talks about the success story of clients adopting SAFe. Faster time to market is one of the major benefits it has as well as general increase in productivity.
If you want to look at a rolling trend, I pulled this number as well from Scaled-Agile, it just shows the amount of growth. It’s just a big ball that keeps growing bigger and bigger and they’re gaining momentum out there. When I look at these numbers … I mean, the numbers are impressive but what I really take away from this all is that it’s a growing community, there’s definitely a job market and a need. SAFe is directly addressing organizational needs and problems, and then that’s why they’re seeing this growth.
I could tell you from a personal perspective, and in running a practice, when we staff-up our transformations our when we interview candidate for coaches or consultants, very much so we are looking for that SPC certification or at least that SA certification, which is the certification slightly lower to leading SAFe certification. The reason why, and I talked to our business partners about this and they’re all looking at the same thing, we typically don’t like to talk to candidates unless we see some sort of SPC or SA certification. The reason why is when we do a large transformations and we’re working in a set of coaching teams, let’s say there’s eight coaches or eight consultants working on a transformation together, we find that when folks have that SPC, they have a baseline knowledge across the board.
That doesn’t mean they’re going to fit into the team but what we found is we worked together a lot better, we communicate together a lot better, we’re working off of the same toolkit, which SAFe provides and does a really good job at it in the transformation, and so we move together better as a team. Ultimately, that’s what our clients and what I’ve seen resonates with our customers is we’re speaking as one voice when do transformations. That makes us a lot more effective.
Again, one of the whys is just exponential growth. I think there’s a lot of job opportunities here when you do have that SPC certification.
If that’s really not your cup of tea, the last two why’s I talked about, what about something very tangible to you, helping your organization? This is something very needed, I’m sure. I can’t see you guys out there but I’m sure I’m getting a lot of head nods, SAFe addresses a lot of issues that are out in enterprises with the Scaled-Agile development.
The first one is unclear vision and problem. When we start transformation, it’s all about finding that north star, let’s say, all the way down from the CEO to the single individual contributor, and linking that together. SAFe does a really good job at linking it all together and having that feedback loop.
Changing priorities. We all know being Agile is hard enough in a team and when you talk about being Agile in a team of teams and when you’re scaling to 20 teams, 30 teams, it’s really hard. It gets really difficult. SAFe addressees how do you track a team of teams, how do you work together? Agility is ultimately now the key to winning business. It’s not necessary efficiency.
A good example I can think of is business models are being disrupted not in decades but years, we say it, if not months. A good example would be Uber and Airbnb, those are immediate examples I could think if.Changing requirements. Same as priorities, as things emerge and we learn how do you adjust for that and across hundreds of people, if not thousands of people.
Low quality. This is one of the key principles in the SAFe framework is building quality within. It does it a number of ways, I’m not going to go in details. It talks about different definitions of done and SAFe model, it talks about Dev Ops, it talks about testing, so it’s built along every single way.
Lack of visibility. This is one of the key things whenever we approach transformations, when we’re on sales calls with executives, that’s one of the key things they want is they want more data. “How do I make a decision? I feel I only have 40% of the data.” SAFe does a good job of reporting that out. There’s also a tools component of it that we don’t really talk about in the course itself but you can use a number of tools like Atlassian Tool, JIRA if you’re on the team level we could scale that. AgileCraft is a very popular tool that’s growing in terms of scale in SAFe. Version One. There’s a number of tools you can use in terms of getting that visibility as the teams work in this new framework.
Lack of alignment. How do you maintain alignment across different teams as things change? As I mentioned earlier around changing priorities and changing requirements.
Predictabilities. I think one of the things on the team, it’s very easy to eventually get predictability. You’ve seen the rules of Thumb of things that it takes about three months or longer vice versa, it really depends on the organization, but you could get some form of predictability in teams.
Now all of a sudden, if you’re building in a large complicated enterprise or you’re scaling going beyond four or six teams, this is where it gets fuzzy on that predictability. SAFe does a really good job in terms of helping manage that, looking at velocities of past teams and actually looking at velocity of the entire Agile release trend or the art, they call it. They have certain toolkits around control charts that help you measure that predictability. That really helps a lot.
Underestimated dependencies. I know that Agile [inaudible 00:16:02] talks a lot about dependencies and breaking dependencies, and dependencies will kill you. I’m sure I’m getting head nods when we talk about empowering teams, we talk about cross-functional teams in Scrum, but then what happens when I have to scale this? What happens when I deal with hundreds of people and have dependencies outside of my team’s control?
What I really like about SAFe is that it does an awesome job at tracking those dependencies, and when you do the program increment planning or PI planning, that’s that heartbeat in the SAFe framework when they do large room planning. Dependencies is literally one of the huge [inaudible 00:16:41] items. I think that really comes from the SAFe framework, it recognizes that dependencies slow you down. I think SAFe does a good job, and as an SPC you’re going to learn how to track those dependencies throughout your train or your value stream. It helps you encapsulate those dependencies now.
Then, it also helps you identify where you can break them. That’s what I think about a lot. When I work with more of my clients that are little bit … they’ve been around longer or they have legacy code that’s been seen around 20, 25 plus years, and when I say a legacy code I mean it powers their business. That’s my definition, and so it’s hard to change. SAFe gives you that steppingstone to help manage those dependencies in the legacy code and, actually identify it while you intend to break those dependencies throughout.
Slow time-to-market. As I covered earlier, there’s a number of case studies out there on the Scaled-Agile Academy website talking about slow time to market and how they address that.
Poor morale. As I mentioned, the mission statement talks about employee engagement, and I can’t tell you the number times either we’ve ran transformations in SAFe or just general Agile transformations in general where employee morale improves tremendously when you involve them. When you learn about the SAFe framework you’re going to learn about how they involve every single individual in every single team, getting their feedback, and people just want to be heard. What I found is leadership also sees that and they actually get more data out of it, and so leadership actually has an improvement in their morale in general too as well is because you’ll hear conversations like, “I didn’t think of that from leadership.” Or an individual contributor or a developer says something during one of the planning sessions that is a new data point that changes leadership’s decision around something or how they want to do their planning. I think it’s a win-win for everyone. SAFe does a really good job about that, how to involve everyone and how to measure that.
I’m going to move off from the why and now I’m going to talk about the how. First, how do you get there? Be a leader in change and improvements. What does that mean? What does that mean to be a leader in change and improvements? For me, it means challenge the status quo. What I mean by that is, it doesn’t matter what organization your in or what environment or what level in the organization you’re at, always reflect and ask about is there a better way to do things? Question your manager, for instance, look at the Agile manifesto, look at the values and principles of SAFe or Lean-Agile, and reflect it with your team. Even if it’s just a lunch conversation just, how do we get there? How do we follow these principles and challenges to [inaudible 00:19:41] accept that? I think that’s what I mean by getting you in that mindset because once you’re an SPC, you are that change agent that’s going to challenge the status quo for your organization or a client or even just an individual team. It really doesn’t matter.
Second is volunteer to be on your organizations improvement initiative. I am sure a number people on this call, there are a lot of improvement initiatives in your organization. I think look for slivers where you can go practice and be a leader in change if you aren’t already. Refer people to the free body of Lean-Agile knowledge that SAFe has already collected and it’s free, it’s public, and share that knowledge with your colleagues and see how can it apply to our improvement initiatives?
Lastly, just take initiative and create opportunities. What I mean by that is … and I know I’m picking up on the poll questions right now, there’s time, there’s what the value, there’s money. One of things that I’ve learned early on in my career and through my mentorship with past managers is you need to create space and make those opportunities for you. They don’t necessarily wait sometimes. If you have an improvement initiative, by all means, but sometimes if you don’t … I recommend going to meetups or community events. I have a list here of community events. I just gathered a sample, find your local community that these are ones that are in larger geographical areas in the US spread out, but just take initiative and network. What I find is you find a lot of like-minded people out there, working with the same problems or similar problems and they’re all looking for solutions, so take that initiative and make that extra effort. That will prepare you to be a true change agent particularly before and after you get an SPC.
The second how is be a lifelong learner. I talk about books a lot, I’m going to talk about books again [inaudible 00:21:49] right now is read, read, read. Some of the smartest people I’ve met in my career, and they can be super busy, they have families, they still take the time to read. It could just only be 10 minutes a day, 15 minutes a day, but I’ve realized it makes a huge difference. I’ve listed for this webinar, a number of books that I recommend. A lot of it is alluded in the SAFe framework as well.
Just picking off a few, we talked about Drive Unlocking Intrinsic Motivation, Leading Change, which is a change management framework or [inaudible 00:22:26] change management framework, you have Agile Software Requirements, which is written by Dean Leffingwell, the creator and chief methodologist of SAFe, so definitely encourage you to read before and after you get that SPC. In the course, they will also have recommended books for you, but this is a small sample size and I think it also prepares you a lot better when you have read some of these books before taking that course.
I’ve talked about attending meetups, so continually do that throughout. What you’ll find is people will run experiments even with using SAFe, you might even have naysayers of the SAFe model, which I welcome actually because we all get better when we hear about people’s different experiences or if they’re using Glass or [inaudible 00:23:10] different scaling … Excuse me, different scaling frameworks. I think the key is really understanding the context because you have a set of best practices that SAFe has provided, and then from there you want to adjust based on context and hear from others.
The last piece is PDCA, plan do check act cycle. This is created by Edward Deming. Edward Deming is a thought leader and inspired the Lean movement and systems thinking. He’s alluded to a lot of and a lot of the SAFe framework is based off of his work. I personally use this when I prepare for anything, even for this webinar. I’m constantly planning and practicing, checking and then readjusting based off of that. Use that as you prepare yourself on your pathway to get an SPC.
Now, one of the last how’s I have, the last how is prep and commit. This goes back to committing to it, is that if you lack the time, what I like to do before I get into prereqs is schedule that course now. You can look on the cPrime site, you can look on other training vendors, there’s a lot of public courses offered throughout the world, actually. That is only growing as more vendors get onto training this because of that demand. Schedule that out four months out, five months out, book that airfares if it’s not something local to you because it is … Yes, it is absolutely a four-day commitment and at that time, that came up in that poll, but what I found is just do it and that’s your time box, really just like in the Scrum world that is your time box to prepare yourself for an SPC and to actually go through with it and take it.
Now, in terms of the prereqs. They have a recommended set of prereqs around five years experience and development or testing or really product development. Three plus years in Agile and one or more relevant Agile certifications. Now, these certifications, typical ones I’ve seen are from the Scrum alliance CSM, certified scrum master or a CSPO, which is certified Scrum product owner, any of those will do. I do not think that they bar you from being an SPC when you don’t have these prereqs, but what I will say sitting in that course, a four-day course, it’s a lot of material, it assumes you have baseline knowledge of Agile development. It’s easier to pick up if you have some of these prereqs. Or, definitely read a book. Going back to the how, being part of the change initiatives in your organization, that’s going to prep you for this course.
Now, in terms of the course itself, it’s four days and it’s an intense four days. I remember my course, I took it, I think almost two years ago now, and it teaches Leading SAFe the first two days and the last few days, it’s exclusively on how to implement SAFe, and it’s jam-packed. I think in my course I had two instructors because our class was that big. We went eight hours, it was starting at eight AM and went all the way to five or six PM depending on the discussion, but really good discussion. There’s definitely a lot of material but be prepared for that.
Lastly is just getting certified. The course itself or the exam itself is two hours long, it’s closed book, it’s web-based, it uses a number of multiple-choice and true and false questions. I will say this, this test was probably one the hardest tests I took, or harder tests, I took in terms of certifications mainly because there’s some trick questions out there. There’s some questions where it appears with multiple answers to be correct and it’s asking you choose the best answer, so prepare for that. 74% pass it, and then SAFe encourages you to complete it within 30 days.
Now, you could definitely take it beyond that 30 days, but I highly recommend that you actually take it within one or two weeks of completing your course. The reason why is there’s, as I mentioned, there’s a lot of knowledge being dropped on you and shared on you and discussed on you on in the SPC course in that four days, there’s a lot of hands-on exercises as well so that helps you remember things but what I found is for most people, the pass rate is higher the earlier you take it.
In terms of studying for the exam, I would definitely recommend looking at your slides, speaking about the exercises you went through, showing up on some of the user forums or the Scaled-Agile forums or even the LinkedIn forums on SAFe. Hearing about the discussions, at least that helped me take the test, ask about the why, why would SAFe recommend something like this? Again, going back to those books, if there are certain books you want to look over or breeze over, definitely do that.
Lastly, what I recommend is go on to the website, go on to it and look at the Lean-Agile, huge knowledge repository that they picked up. There are things in there that the course may have covered but it goes more in depth on the website. What I did was I read literally the website end-to-end probably one or two times before I actually took the exam.
Again, key takeaways definitely need to study for this one. I would not recommend taking the four-day course and just not studying and just immediately taking the exam. You want to assure you pass on the first try. As I said, the longer you wait the more harder it’s going to be to pass that exam, so definitely highly recommend to do some studying around that and take it within two weeks of the course.
Once you have your SPC, moving off to the golden circle of what, what do you do? I think you’re a practical practitioner foremost, and what I mean by that is all of a sudden now you have the toolkit and you have the knowledge, you have access to what SAFe offers the SPC’s private access exclusively, and it’s always updated with sample deliverables, case studies, toolkits, how do you run a value stream toolkit, all kinds of things that you can use immediately the moment after you’re done and you’re an SPC.
After the SPC course you can lead a transformation or Lean-Agile transformation, you may be implementing or managing a Lean-Agile portfolio for instance, your launching and supporting Agile release trains and value streams as you go. I say practical practitioner first and foremost only because what I found, and I’m guilty of this, is you have to practice it. You’re going to lose that knowledge. It’s not just a certification you get and you’re like, “Okay, great. I don’t really need to use it.” What you want to do is use it every day, everywhere you go, every organization you go at.
That second bullet point I touched upon, using that vast body of knowledge, reading up on it and then modifying it based on your contextual leads and constraints. SAFe is very descriptive about what it wants you do, there’s a certain set of roles, there are SAFe essentials, which are the essentials it’s like the MVP of SAFe, you need to address those things. Then from there, most organizations will modify based off of their needs and constraints whether it be budgeting, they don’t have the headcount, their technology stack, so keep that in consideration when you’re practicing.
The last piece is just coaching in leading and training. One of the things that the SPC pays itself back, talking about value and I don’t have the money, is they support a train the trainer fan-out model. That makes it very economical to run a transformation as well as you get, essentially your ROI of your investment back almost immediately when you run a transformation because as an SPC you are allowed to provide a lot of the certifications, many of the certifications that the Scaled-Agile framework offers. Now all of a sudden you are training your organization, whether they’re product owners or they’re Scrum masters or they’re advanced Scrum masters, or you’re training your executives in leading SAFe, these are all … you have the ability as an SPC to license it out. All you have to do is pay that licensing fee, and it’s really low, and you’re allowed to certify people. I think that’s really one of the biggest catches I’ve seen when I talk to people is not only are you practicing and delivering value and it’s resonating with your customer and you’re solving their problem, but you’re also certifying and getting people better at their work and really changing the way they think about working and operating in this new model.
The last what is pushing the envelope and growing. One of my … if you don’t know this that’s Tom Cruise in Top Gun if you’re not sure, one of my favorite ’80’s movie by far. You want to push the envelope, you always want to practice and learn. First piece, first advice I would say is give back and engage the community. The community is growing, as I mentioned earlier, and it’s growing every day. Go on LinkedIn, there’s public discussion boards you can attend. Once you’re in the Scaled-Agile Academy there’s also a lot of boards and a lot of discussions going on because what you’re going to see is how people are applying it on a daily basis, and it’s super active. If I’m not active on it, I subscribe to the daily digest or the weekly digest for these forums so that I can stay abreast of what’s going on in the community.
Maintaining your SPC. There’s a small renewal fee, an annual renewal fee with it, but I think the biggest piece is just continuously practice and certify people. That’s the biggest piece. Lastly, what I would say is attend the annual SAFe summit. I have some information here. This is the 2017 SAFe Summit. It’s happening at October second to October sixth, out in San Antonio. I think last week early bird pricing just closed, but what I will say this is this is the second annual … last year they held it, they completely sold out. I think there were over 400 plus attendees, and that’s just the first year. This year we spoke to Scaled-Agile and they’re looking at doubling that and they’re looking at selling out more, so definitely encourage you to attend the SAFe summit. They just released the agenda for the SAFe Summit a week or two ago as well. I’m super excited about that. We’re going to be there, I’m going to be there, so I’d love to see you there because I think what you’re going to see is that huge vibrant community no longer just on the discussion boards online but actually in person and seeing what people are actually doing out there with their SPC as well as SAFe.
Key takeaways, wrapping it up. I have a link there if you want to learn more about implementing SAFe is start with a why. I asked everyone on this call start with a why, why would I want to get it? Is it your personal mission, is it the growth and career opportunities? As I covered, there are a number of folks that are only looking for SPCs and SAs. Or, is it just, “Hey, I just want to get better. I want to help my organization”?
Moving off to the next circle the how, be a change leader. We talked about being a lifelong learner and I see that already, if you’re on this call, you’re a lifelong learner, you’re being engaged already, taking some time out of your busy schedule to learn about something new. I encourage you, highly encourage you, to continuously do that and stay sharp on that.
Lastly, is just committing. Book that flight now, look for that public SPC course that’s close to you and book that flight because that’s going to be your time box for you to get that SPC.
In terms of the what, practitioner foremost. A certification does not guarantee quality, does not guarantee performance, but I will say it’s constantly practice and finding ways to practice even if it’s not in your day-to-day job, attend those forums or those meetups. Lastly is just push the envelope, give back to the community for instance.
That’s all I had. I want to close out with a couple of housekeeping items as well before we move off to questions. You’ve earned 1 PMI PDU by attending this webinar and, again has Ben mentioned, we will share the slides with you. There are in-depth instructions on how to earn that.
Then, I’m excited to offer SPC class discounts. First one is SA class, so if you use that web discount code it’s $75 off the class itself. Then, SPC class, if sign up it’s $200 off. I have the URL down below for this, and I’m super excited for this because this is exclusive to this webinar. I asked our training that, “Hey, we’re doing this course,” or, ” We’re doing this webinar. Would really love it if we could help the community out and encourage people to sign up.”
Ben, I don’t want if you want to move to questions.
A couple of things real quick, cPrime is doing four SPC courses over the course of the next couple of months, there’s one April 25th through the 28th in Atlanta, Georgia. There’s one actually in San Francisco May 9th through 12. There’s only a couple of seats left for that one. I know for a lot of the folks that told me they are from the Bay area, if you’re interested, definitely get in on that one. In Minneapolis, which I know a few people that are on the call here, that one is June 27th to June 30th. Then, we’ve got one in July, July 25th to the 28th in Orlando. I’ve sent everyone a link through the chat-box to get a list that will show those courses. You can look more in depth, but definitely take advantage of this special offer. Would love to have you join us on any and all of these sessions.
With that, let’s go ahead and jump into questions, we’ve gotten quite a few already. Kreisler, How does an SPC differ or what are the pros and cons versus the Scaled-Agile certification? The context is that he’s already a Scaled-Agile so it doesn’t make sense to also seek an SPC certification.
Got it. That’s a really good question. For an SPC, at least when talking to clients, I’ll speak from a client perspective, if you’re leading a transformation a lot of times they’re going to look for that bare minimal SPC. You can say that’s a matter of perception, and again I know that doesn’t mean quality by any means if you have an SPC, but when we talk to clients and we talk about, “Hey, we want to bring on this coach or want someone to lead it.” They’re typically going to ask, “Do they have an SPC?” That’s a SAFe transformation.
Number two is just the ability to certify, as I touched upon, is one of the big things, and to me I encourage anyone to go after an SPC is all of a sudden it opens up the door for you to teach a number of courses, I say it does. If you look at the implementations roadmap, that’s one of the key-steps besides setting it up in the value streams is you want to train people, the ability to train people on a different way of working and thinking. That’s where the depth of the courses come from, and so as a result, only as SPC or an SPCT are allowed to do those certifications.
Got it. Raul asks, do I need to maintain an SA and SPC renewal separately?
No, I do not think so. No.
Okay, great. Jamie asks, once you become an SPC, how long did it take for you to become really comfortable with the new skill set that you learned?
Very good question. The funny thing is I’m always practicing so it’s like the imposter syndrome, I’m always learning, so to get comfortable I would say anywhere from six to nine months but, again, that body of knowledge keeps growing and so there’s always something new to learn. If you subscribe to their emails as an SPC you’re going to see, “Hey, there’s a new toolkit,” or, “There’s new articles the way of thinking,” or, “We applied this across 100 companies and we refined it to where we’re giving it to you, an SPC.” I would say six to nine months for the initial and then from there I’ll just constantly learn off that.
Cool. Alex asks what’s the traditional side and links of the projects that you worked on once you’re an SPC?
It really depends on the size of the organization. I’ll give you an example of the size of these organizations is, we worked with a telecommunication company startup, I think it’s been almost two years now, midsized company, about 2,000 to 3000 worldwide, and they were actually almost about to go out of business. They were just in dire need of help, and so we came in and helped them with the SAFe transformation and that’s still going on. It’s been over two years, this multi-quarter we’re starting to launch trains and train teams up worldwide across the organizations. It really depends on the size, some can last multiple years, multiple quarters so it depends on how far we get it and how SAFe is going because if SAFe goes into larger enterprises like Cisco, I know Cisco is practicing SAFe as well, you can imagine that enterprise is huge. You can spend your whole career on a number of large transformations, let’s keep it at that.
Chris asks, and this is to the question around the money, I’m having trouble affording this personally, are there any suggestions to where I can get my manager or want to be executives to buy-in to help me take this course for the business, do you have any? I’m going to rephrase it a little bit, do you have any suggestions for [inaudible 00:42:04] the company to pay for the training?
Okay, all right. I think the question was budget, how do I convince my leaders to invest in this budget for training? Number thinks, I think email first, I can help you with that. There are certain sources out there to talk about how you sell SAFe to your executives, for instance. That’s the first piece.
If it’s a training piece, talk through the case studies. What I found is you could talk about, “Hey, there’s a big body of knowledge, it’s awesome.” But a lot of managers or executives want to see, “Okay, what’s the outcome? What’s in it for the company to go this route?” Point them to the SAFe case studies. There are a number of companies across multiple industries, I am sure you’re going to find a company that’s similar to yours, and point them to that case study. It’s a quick read, or just key points, and I think it’s always a good talking conversation so that you can convince your organization to move towards this route.
Sue, one of our practice leads is also on the call right now and she wanted to chime in and throw another suggestion, which is really highlight the problems and show the benefits of SAFe and then talk through your business leaders around the importance of SAFe and the foundations of SAFe and why it’s important to have your team or company adopt those frameworks and why in order to do so, you really need to be certified in this in order to be able to have the company be successful. Do you agree?
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Thanks, Sue.
Yeah, thanks, Sue. Sue then asks, how long is the certification good for?
Great. Brian says that he’s a 35-year computer professional in CSM and he was also an early pioneer in storage fertilization and did some big projects back in the day, and some of the products that they developed over 19 years are still being sold in multiple different channels and in some cases, you still got IT certifications from a bunch of different places. Unfortunately, he’s had some work problem so he thought that the Scrum master or CFM certification would help, but he’s had a little bit of trouble and he’s bored to death because doing other work right now and so he’s thinking pretty seriously about how an SPC certification will help him change what he’s doing now because he’s kind of out of his field.
I know you laid out some of these in the presentation, but for Brian who in his 50s and been in this space for a while, and I’m sure that probably other folks on the call that have a similar situation, what would you say to Brian about why SPC is something that he really should invest in?
Yeah. I think Agile itself has been practiced since the early 90’s, and the manifesto itself was written in 2001 but it was really focused on the team level, smaller batches, smaller organization. I think we’re entering that second or third wave, however you want to call it, where Agile was hot at the team level probably for the last decade or so, and now all of a sudden executives, even other groups are catching wind of it and the power of it and so where the market is moving toward is Scaled-Agile, how do we all work together now? We understand the team level, but how do we work together? How do we operate in the context of the entire enterprise versus, what we call sub-optimization at the team level?
I think an SPC gives you that framework and that knowledge to prepare you for that new world. If you want to change your skill sets I think that the CSM is a great certification, it’s the most common certification, but I think it’s very much focused on the team level, which is good, it has the basics down. Even when we go on transformations we ask that immediate question, but what we’ve seen is the market is moving toward, “Okay, how do I make this bigger? How do I go across the portfolio level? How do I work with business stakeholders across multiple levels now?” Yeah.
If I take the Lean-SAFe then do I have to take four-day course to become SPC certified?
I believe so, yes.
Great. Then, finally, Anon asks what’s the difference between the SPC and RTE certification?
Okay. The RTE is fairly new, I haven’t … and I’ll be very frank, I haven’t looked at the agenda of the course. I know it just launched but my understanding is just like the rest of the rules-based training, the RTE is a three-day course geared specifically toward that release train engineer role and making them successful. Versus an SPC is, to me, you’re leading the transformation or you’re part of that body that’s leading the transformation. You may or may not be in RTE, and I see that very commonly, but that would be the main difference, the RTE is very specific to that role. I believe it’s a three-day course, and the SPC is a four-day course not specific to RTE but you’re going to get more of that bigger picture of all the roles.