More SAFe Lessons Learned

By: Cindy Currie, SPC5, PMI-ACP, PMP


The PCI SAFe Training Team recently delivered its third virtual class, this time SAFe for Government 5.0. This marks our third in two respects: third overall class delivered remotely, and third different course delivered remotely, SAFe PO/PM and SAFe Scrum Master being our first two. We have some additional learnings we’d like to share.

Class Scheduling

SAFe for Government 5.0 is a very content heavy course, much heavier than some of the other courses, even though it is considered a two-day foundational course. To allow ample time for the class, we scheduled our standard Tech Check session the day before the actual start of the class to work out any connectivity issues students had, and to provide some basic instruction is using Microsoft Teams and the PI Planning App.

To ensure we had ample time to deliver the course content, we held the class over four days, five hours per day. This worked out nicely as we needed the full 20 hours to accommodate remote delivery, engage participants in discussion (particularly around acquisitions!), work through activities in breakout rooms, breaks, knowledge checks, and so on. This scheduling approach also allowed the participants and instructors to have their mornings to focus on other work. However, based on feedback from participants, we may consider holding our Tech Check session the Friday before class starts, and scheduling the class for five days, four hours a day. Participants expressed the need for more time to digest and synthesize the course content and suggested that adding a day to the class would provide more time to do that. (For many of our participants, this course was their first introduction to SAFe and they were left feeling like they were drinking from a firehose.)

Additional Handouts

We created two additional handouts for participants:

  • To enable faster finding of key reference information, we compiled a list of links to videos, articles, and more that are either contained in the Trainer Guide or the Student Workbook. While links are scattered throughout the Student Workbook, we noticed frustration from the students in trying to find and cross-reference the information. To mitigate this, we opted to provide a list of links and resources, organized by lesson and section number.  This document was well-received and proved useful to our students.
  • To further aid participants in their understanding of the SAFe principles, our second handout was organized by the 10 SAFe principles, with topics and links to videos, articles, and more designed specifically to be highly illustrative of the application of SAFe principles. We included things like the Challenging your Cognitive Bias (aka Backwards Bike) video, the Langley and Wright Brothers Race for Flight story, Formula 1 Pit Stops 1950 and Today video, and more. These materials were included in previous versions of SAFe training and have been removed from the 5.0 content. However, they have important and effective instructional value here, so we felt that providing access to this information via a supplemental handout was appropriate and beneficial.

We continue to work with Scaled Agile-provided virtual learning materials, our own judgement and experience coupled with participant feedback, and ongoing relentless improvement activities for these classes. We are now planning for our fourth remote delivery, and yes, our fourth course – SAFe for Teams 5.0 this time.

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