How to Launch Your 1st SAFe® Agile Release Train

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Last updated on
02nd May, 2022
16th Feb, 2018
How to Launch Your 1st SAFe® Agile Release Train

So, you are excited to organize and launch your 1st SAFe® Agile Release Train. Understanding the importance, structure, and deployment of ART (SAFe® Agile Release Train) is the central of SAFe® Agile implementation to scale & successfully implement the complex projects, deliver maximum business values and complete the project on time well under the budget. Just like a train carries its passengers to deliver at set destinations within pre-estimated time at defined cost, ART also helps you carry out the projects successfully; however, before starting the journey with an efficient ART, you must know the principles that govern Agile Release Train. 

5 Governing Principles for SAFe® Agile Release Train: 

ART is the self-organised team of Agile Teams. It is composed of Agile teams engaged in development, security, DevOps, Enterprise Architecture etc. ART plans. It commits & executes the processes following a specific timeframe often called - PI (Program Increment).

  1. ART must follow a value delivery model for periodic planning and timely release. 
  2. ART must follow a common iteration length within the PI. 
  3. ART must know the clearly-defined objectives & benchmarks.
  4. ART must follow the culture of continuous system integration. The works completed by different teams must be integrated at each sprint to keep the developments in releasable state.
  5. ART must respect customer previews, internal reviews, and system level QA. 

Roadmap to Launch SAFe® Agile Release Train: 

1.Train the SAFe® Program Consultants (SPCs):

Train your SPCs properly, the change agents responsible for transformation and connecting the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) to your organization. SPCs teach all the stakeholders & leaders to drive the ART to its destination.

 2.Train the Lean Agile Leaders:

Lean Agile leaders are expected to understand and implement the principles of SAFe® Agile framework. Lean Agile Leaders are also responsible to lead & facilitate SAFe® adoption for improved outcomes. And for smooth transition, you need to train the Lean Agile Leaders up to the best standards.  

3.Identify Value Streams and ART: 
SAFe® Agile Release Train is a procedural system; therefore, you should make all the responsibilities of solution defining, building, validation, and deployment etc clear. 

4.Organize ART and Agile Teams: 

The roadmap to organize the ART and Agile teams contains different millstones including:  

  • Well-defined ‘product’ with features/components
  • Leadership support
  • Collaboration
  • Minimized dependencies
  • Integration
  • Well-managed DevOps activities

5.Define and Fill All The Roles Of ART Members:  

The critical roles of ART members must be well defined to help the Release Train Engineer, System Architect, Product Managers, Scrum Masters, Product Owners perform the best at par with customer’s expectations. 


 6.Prepare the Program Backlog:  

The practice of using launch date as the forcing function makes it more urgent to determine the scope and vision of PI. The scope of ‘what is built’ or PI is defined by ‘Program Backlog’ informing about the upcoming features, architectural work, and NFRs. The gained vision about the future behaviour of system helps you create short stories for Agile teams.      

 7.Train the Teams

Train the teams properly to deliver the maximum values at each sprint. It is the key part of ART readiness to ensure the on-the-time best quality ‘product’ delivery.

8.Conduct PI Planning 

PI planning is a face-to-face meeting event; it empowers the Agile Release Train to align all the SAFe® Agile teams for the shared mission & vision. 

9.Set the Program Calendar & Launch Date 

Now you have ART definition. The next task is scheduling your 1st PI Planning event focused on the forcing functions and ‘date-specific’ launch with PI calendar. The PI calendar shows the scheduled activities including PI planning, System demos, ART sync, Inspect & Adapt (I&A) workshop etc. 

10.Execute Innovation and Planning Iteration: 

Now, you are almost at the destination. Innovation and planning iteration is conducted to absorb the variances in estimates, allot time for innovation, refine backlog and to plan ‘Inspect & Adapt’ workshop. 

Conclusion: Launching SAFe® Agile Release Train (ART) for the first time can be a challenging and complex task; therefore, before going ahead, you should acquire the expertise by joining short-term SAFe® 4 Release Train Engineer certification training designed to guide you through for efficient ART launch.


Shubhranshu Agarwal

Freelance content writer

Shubhranshu Agarwal is a technical writer with special interest in business management and project management subjects. Over the 15 years of freelance content writing, he has written a lot to help the industries, businesses and project managers to achieve the sustainable growth by implementing strategic critical management methodologies.