Release Train Engineer

Basic

difficulty

Stage 2

Agile IQ® Level

Release Train

Roles

SAFe®

Framework

Introduction

The Release Train Engineer (RTE) is a management role for an Agile Release Train (ART) in the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Unlike traditional management roles, the RTE is the Chief Scrum Master accountable for the agility and the effectiveness of SAFe across the whole ART.

Responsibilities

ART Facilitation 

  • Facilitate PI Planning readiness, including Feature Refinement leading up to a new Program Increment (PI).
  • Facilitate PI Planning.
  • Facilitate end of PI activities – including the System Demo and the Inspect & Adapt workshops.
  • Facilitate the “Scrum of Scrums” event to increase transparency of whole of Train-level issues that impede teams from delivery.
  • Understand the agile capability of the ART and plan improvement initiatives with the ART’s Scrum Masters.

Coaching

  • Coach leaders, teams, and Scrum Masters in Lean-Agile practices and mindsets.
  • Coaching staleholders to be more effective in their collaboration with teams.
  • Encourage collaboration between teams in the ART.

Supporting Product Management

  • Support the Product Manager to manage risks and dependencies
  • Escalate impediments to management when issues are beyond the control of teams to influence and address

Focus on ART Effectiveness, not "Delivery"

The RTE is accountable for the ART’s effectiveness.

The RTE helps the ART to be more effective  by enabling Agile Teams to improve its practices, within the SAFe framework. Through working together using SAFe, inspecting progress and adapting their plans, the whole ART assurse delivery is low risk.

As the RTE isn’t accountable for the work itself, they’re not responsible for delivery in the same way a Delivery Manager or Project Manager is responsible for delivery.

Myths about the role

The RTE isn’t:

  • An agile project or program manager. SAFE is an agile product management framework applied to a team, not to a project. Project and Program Management roles and responsibilities from PMI and PRINCE2 focus on managing and controlling projects – a very different set of skills and accountabilities to a Chief Scrum Master.
  • The team manager. The RTE influences through expert power and referent power. An RTE is the manager of the effectiveness of agile, but their authority begins and ends with the guardrails of SAFe.
  • A Delivery Manager. The RTE isn’t accountable for the work itself. 
  • A Team Lead. Agile Teams in an ART are self-managing. No one person is responsible for delivery, technical or otherwise.
  • The person who updates the Program’s Feature board. Given the ART’s teams are self-managing, who ever does the work should ensure they keep what they are doing transparent by updating the board themselves.

Expectations

  • Think beyond the day-to-day of how the ART operates to applying ‘systems thinking’ so that the RTE has a perspective of how the whole ART runs – people, process and tools.
  • Promote consistency of tools and agile practice.

Download

Download the RTE to print and use in your organisation.

References

Leffingwell, D. (2011) Lean. Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise. Addison-Wesley.

Scaled Agile, Inc.

Trompenaars, Fons, and Ed Voerman (2009). Servant-Leadership Across Cultures: Harnessing the Strengths of the World’s Most Powerful Management Philosophy. McGraw-Hill.

 

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