What are the responsibilities of a SAFe Release Train Engineer?
A Release Train Engineer is a servant leader who steers the Agile Release Train (ART) of five to ten agile teams (product developers, their Product Owners, and Scrum Masters), the Product Manager, and the System Architect/Engineer. The RTE uses their knowledge to tailor Lean-Agile to work well within the ART’s specific environment. The RTE facilitates the Lean-Agile processes to speed the workflow and to grow the agility of the ART’s people, improving the ART’s value delivery. There are certain traits and responsibilities a Release Train Engineer possesses.
Several traits make an effective RTE, including:
- Servant leader of self-organizing, self-managing ART
- Resilient Agile mindset
- Lean-Agile knowledge tempered through experience
- Comprehensive critical thinker
- Thinks systemically beyond the details
- Savvy negotiator for win-win-win outcomes
- Energizing, motivating facilitator and communicator
- Coaches by encouragement and guiding support
- Reliably accountable and trustworthy
- Demonstrates courage and persistence
- Active listener: empathetic, respectful, and open
- Translator of metrics
- Agile budgeteer of customer-based efforts
- Cultivator of a respectful, innovative environment
RTE’s have responsibilities to their ART and organization. We have broken this down into four categories.
Optimize the flow of value
The RTE drives relentless improvement to optimize the ART’s execution.
- Cultivate a positive environment and experiences for the people of the ART.
- Help teams manage risks, constraints, and dependencies.
- Ensure the health of the Program Kanban.
- Escalate roadblocks when the team cannot remove them by themselves.
- Ensure valuable metrics are in place. Transparently report ART standing while helping to track features and capabilities.
- Coach how to get the best use out of the tools available and lobby for better tools.
- Work towards strategy and execution alignment with Product Managers, Product Owners, and stakeholders.
- Facilitate the Lean User Experience innovation cycle.
The RTE supports the Lean-Agile transformation by coaching the ART (agile teams, Product Manager, System Architect/Engineer, and Business Owner(s)).
- Configure scaled agile to the organization while upholding principles and essential practices.
- Assess and persistently drive continuous improvements through assessments, focused training, Communities of Practices, and 1-on-1 discussions.
- Encourage collaboration among teams, System Architects/Engineering, and the Product Manager.
- Assess and support the improvement of customer-centricity, built-in quality, DevOps, and Release-on-Demand practices.
- Ensure principle-based practices in the ART.
Facilitate art processes and events
The RTE ensures the ART utilizes Lean-Agile processes and events.
- Develop and broadcast the ART calendar of events.
- Ensure the input for PI Planning is well-crafted (Vision, Roadmap, and Backlogs)
- Facilitate the PI planning event. Develop an agenda and keep everyone on track to complete within the short timebox.
- Facilitate Inspect & Adapt’s Problem-Solving Workshop, System Demo, Metric review, and Retrospective.
- Summarize Team PI Objectives as published Program PI Objectives.
- Facilitate the Scrum of Scrum and PO Sync with purpose and tangible outcomes.
Support the ART externally
The RTE works tirelessly on a systemic level to support the ART within the larger organization.
- Understand and operate within Lean Budgets and ensure adherence to the guardrails.
- Assist with economic decision-making by facilitating feature and capability estimation by teams and the roll-up to Epics.
- Provide input on resourcing to address critical bottlenecks.
- Work alongside the APMO and LACE on program execution and operational excellence.
- Nurture relationships between ART members and others outside the ART.
- Communicate with stakeholders.
- Escalate impediments to managing risks.
To learn how you can further excel in these responsibilities, read our complete Release Train Engineer Starter Guide.
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