Your Route to RTE – Part 2: How far will you go?

What are the tasks of the Release Train Engineer? The RTE is a new breed of super scrum masters, arisen since the advent of SAFe. Upon passing the SAFe Release Train Engineer (RTE) exam and achieving RTE certification, the RTE becomes a far more effective scrum master of the Team of Teams and coach for the organization around it– a complex, challenging, and intense role with a lot of responsibility for the whole enterprise. “It’s like Scrum on steroids,” says Andres Jansen, Senior Trainer at Gladwell Academy.


 A new certification for a new role

The 3-day SAFe Release Train Engineer course is an advanced training for a specific group of people. “This is a course meant for professionals who are at least super-interested and motivated to become an RTE, who already act as Release Train Engineer for 3 to 12 months, and who want to really advance their skills,” says Andres. “I have taken part in the RTE training course, I have conducted them myself. And if you know you’re already an RTE but want a better, deeper understanding of the intent behind the rituals and principles and want to execute your job better, this is for you. Imagine: A 3-day journey focused fully on this super role.”


Two Paths, One Destination: Becoming a Professional, Certified RTE

Release Train Engineer

Whichever path has brought you to being a practicing RTE, the SAFe Release Train Engineer Certification Training is an essential qualification; recognized internationally, it can give those who pass the certification exam vastly expanded career horizons. “There’s a big demand for this role worldwide, so this certification unlocks a lot of new opportunities – it’s quite a unique qualification for your CV,” says Andres.

It also offers you entrance into a fast-growing but still unique world: that of the RTE, a rare breed of individual who combines the qualities of servant leadership with a relentless focus on efficiency and process improvement.


So what does an RTE really do?

In a Scaled Agile environment, with its multiple teams all supported by their dedicated Scrum Masters, one can describe the Release Train Engineer as the ‘Super Scrum Master’ or ‘Chief Scrum Master’: literally the top Scrum Master with whom all the team Scrum Masters work, who can take away impediments on the bigger, overall program level.

“In one Agile Release Train (ART) we have 5 to 10 teams and they all have their own Scrum Master and they work closely together with their Chief Scrum Master,” says Andres. And, as the Scrum Master is also the coach for the development team and the Product Owner, the RTE is the Coach for the whole Agile Release Train, Product Management (Chief Product Owner) and its direct environment!

“This is a key position, and it’s a heavy key role – it’s great for the team Scrum Masters to have a Chief Scrum Master to consult with, but then the RTE has no one higher up: they have to figure out how to deal with bigger impediments on a program level,” he adds. “Further the RTE is coach for the whole program, facilitator for most rituals and events that are part of SAFe, and is a true Master of Ceremonies who not only organizes all of this but who has to guide the whole train in the right direction and be sure it’s approved. It’s a big and challenging role, especially because it’s quite new.”


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The value of a Release Train Engineer course: time to reflect

The role of SAFe Release Train Engineer has only been in existence for the last decade (from 2011 on), meaning that there are few RTE colleagues with which to exchange information – and even if there is another RTE at your organization, it may be hard to find them. “They are also in this new challenging position and heavily occupied because there is so much to do. Our expectation from RTEs is that they improve the Team of Teams; however, their job is so challenging they can hardly find time to answer their emails, much less reflect upon themselves. That’s why this SAFe RTE is so important and helpful,” says Andres.  “Participants get to spend three days in the classroom with other RTEs. Most of them have also been executing the role for the past 3-12 months, and all want to take it further and reflect on their work. Participants find it is also great to be around peers for a couple of days and discuss practicalities – it’s one of the biggest advantages of this training and what makes it a unique experience.”


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