Understanding your Role as a Certified Release Train Engineer

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In the Scaled Agile Framework, one of the most popular roles is that of the Release Train Engineer. Though the role is relatively new, adequate research has been done to determine what and how the RTEs should be doing when implementing lean-agile methods. The Scaled Agile Institute describes a Release Train Engineer as the person who facilitates and executes the Agile Release Train processes. The RTE is required to manage risk, optimize value delivery and be the agent of continuous improvement in a Scaled Agile framework.

The RTE shares similar roles as a Scrum Master. Other than just focusing on the team, like what a Scrum Master does, the RTE also works closely with individuals in other enterprise levels. Release Train Engineers need to have a broad understanding of principles of SAFe. They need to execute agile/SAFe with a main goal to deliver value to the enterprise.

The main characteristics of an effective RTE

There are certain trains that make you a great Release Train Engineer. They include:

  • Embracing the Agile mindset: RTEs need to not only teach their teams and other individuals at different enterprise levels about the Agile/SAFe framework but also embrace the Agile mindset. They need to strongly understand and appreciate the value of Agility and promote this to the rest of the organization. RTEs should only be guided by the Lean-Agile methods and principles with emphasis on the systems thinking approach.
  • Great servant leaders: Release Train Engineers should also embrace servant leadership. They will only earn the respect of the ARTs through leading by example. They should be ready to make adjustments and changes in order to keep the project moving. In the event that there are conflicts, RTEs are required to step up and have the courage to point out what is wrong to avoid bogging down the train. RTEs should be courageous enough to say “no” when waste of time and resources is at stake.
  • Great facilitators: The roles of an RTE are centered around facilitating the team and management to best perform their functions. Certified Release Train Engineers are well equipped with the tools, skills and techniques to keep all participants focused in achieving the end goal.

Do you have the right technical skills?

RTEs need to have a broad understanding of Agile and sometimes some software development knowledge is key. Most RTEs have a background in project management with good organizational skills, budgeting, scheduling and time management skills. Other than that, RTEs also require training and certification to best fulfill their roles.

Training in the SAFe framework is required to give the engineers an in-depth understanding of lean-agile methods: proper understanding of Agile budgeting and Agile metrics. Agile metrics knowledge enables the engineers to track, interpret and make corrections based on actual data. Agile budgeting skills allows RTEs to understand how to utilize resources in order to bring out the best of the project. RTEs also require consistent practice to master the lean-agile frameworks and execute successful projects.

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