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Nov 22, 2021

What is an Agile Release Train?

Forget the express train, the Intercity or the Thalys. The Agile Release Train is where it’s at! This train runs quickly and efficiently to its ultimate goal. It always keeps to the timetable. The passengers mostly set this timetable themselves! The Agile Release Train (ART) was invented by SAFe, the Scaled Agile Framework. The ART is a virtual train consisting of 5 to 10 self-organising, multidisciplinary teams who plan, organise and perform their work together. Together they work on Programme Increments, components that fit together perfectly and provide added value to the entire organisation.

At team level

Together the SAFe Agile Release Teams make a commitment to deliver a Programme Increment in 10-12 weeks. This product offers added value to the business and can be rolled out as a whole.

  • The Scrum Master facilitates the team, monitors the process, handles impediments and ensures that the development team can focus on the content-related tasks.
  • The  Product Owner  manages the team’s backlog, prioritises user stories and ensures that the development team can deal with them.
  • Each team has its own DevTeam. This consists of 3-7 developers who focus fully on creating new PIs.

At Programme level

  • The work of the different scrum teams must be well aligned. This is the responsibility of the  Release Train Engineer. He or she coaches the scrum masters and ensures that they work well together. The RTE maps interdependencies and ensures that they are properly managed. The RTE also constantly works on improving the programmes so that the Agile Release Train (ART) can run even faster and more efficiently. The RTE is thus known as the head scrum master or the train manager of the ART. An important position!
  • Product Management  develops and manages the backlog at Programme level. The PM team maps the business requirements, prioritises them and develops them until they’re ready to be transferred to the scrum teams.
  • The  Business Owners  have final responsibility for management, compliance and the result of the solutions delivered. These are the internal clients who exchange ideas with the PM team about the requirements and their prioritisation.

At Portfolio level

In addition to our train staff, there are also various teams and employees who help to keep the train on track from a Portfolio Management perspective.

  • The System Team supports the Agile Release Train with setting up and managing the different environments and tools that are needed in order to make continuous integration possible.
  • Special  Shared Services teams  consisting of specialists, for example in the field of security or databases.
  • The  Release Management  team meets regularly in order to discuss the scope, progress and quality of releases. It ultimately determines whether a release can go live.

All in all, SAFe recognises many roles and responsibilities. This is also necessary because SAFe offers a structure in which everyone who is involved in a particular value stream can work together effectively. This is particularly challenging for very hierarchical organisations that are organised around functional entities rather than product-oriented departments, and requires a different management approach.

Do you want to know more?

Gladwell Academy provides several training courses in the field of SAFe and ART, which give better overview of the method, the roles and the associated tools. Contact us for more information! / +31(0)20-2402244

Upcoming Release Train Engineer (RTE) Courses

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Written by Gladwell Academy, but most of our content is created by trainers and partnering experts!