My journey to becoming a certified SAFe Program Consultant


If you told me a year ago I would be getting a certification in an Agile Framework, I would have looked you in the eyes and said ‘I am primarily a tools guy.’  While I do love the art of process, my history has primarily been with tooling. If you follow my blog, you will recall a previous post where I talk about going to work for BCBSNC.  When I was brought into BCBSNC, I was asked to perform the role of a Jazz admin.  While I was working in one building there was a major project going on in the building next to me.

At first I was asked to go help out on the project as they were in need of tool coaching.  I was asked to spend 50% of my time on that project and 50% in my original position. It was not long before my desk had been reassigned a location in the other building and shortly after that I was giving the big project 100% of my time.

This project was using an Agile process I had not heard of before. Something called SAFe (the Scaled Agile Framework), then like many of you I was showed the “Big Picture” and responded with a wow! That’s a lot to take in.  But we had really good Agile coaches on the project too.  I remember sitting with a few of them after hours and asking them to show me what SAFe was.  It was not really too hard because it seemed every discussion involved answering the question “How do I do that in SAFe” and it was the client that was asking not me.  I was just there in case any tool questions were to come up, I would be able to respond, in RTC, that is handled this way, etc.

As time went on, SAFe really made sense to me and it made sense to me early.  I felt like it was so natural for me to think the way the coaches were speaking.  So I did what I always do, started documenting everything I could and writing tech tips and sending them out to the teams via email.  Aside from the more advance SAFe concepts, I really felt I had understood quite a lot about SAFe.

Fast-forward a bit, and I am now working for a new company.  It was mentioned during the interviews that they were looking into something called SAFe and I said to myself, this is perfect.  I joined the new company and almost immediately started answering questions about SAFe and coaching, careful to only discuss things I was comfortable in.

One day I asked myself, I wonder how much about SAFe I don’t know.  So to prove to myself, I registered and took the SAFe course run by Scaled Agile Academy.  This course was last week in Pittsburgh, PA.  I was originally supposed to go to the course in Austin, TX the week before but I just could not get approvals that quickly.  My friend Rene did make the Austin course.  And I am happy to report she passed the test.  Now it was my turn.  One piece of advice Rene gave me was to find a study group.

So on day one I went around asking people if they had planned to study at night.  A couple said yes, but it turned out one of the guys was staying at the same hotel as me.  Every night we met downstairs, had dinner and studied.  He had his style and I had mine but we were able to pull them together for an end-resulting crazy 14 pages of notes.  Sounds unbelievable.  There is a lot of information covered in this short three day course.  Two whole books full of double slide Powerpoint presentation.

I’d say the test was hard but in reality it was just more tricky than anything else.  If you were not careful with the wording of questions, you would have gotten it wrong or partial credit.  No scores are given and they use a bell scale for grading all the scores against everyone that has ever taken this test ever.  Not just from our class.  It felt intimidating.

In case you have not figured it out yet, I passed my exam. I am now a certified SPC (SAFe Program Consultant)

A big thank you to Mike my study partner, he too passed the exam.

How did you prepare for the exam? Leave your comment below or connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.



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