2024 SAFe Careers Snapshot | Salaries, Skills, and Experience for SAFe Roles

Are you pursuing a fulfilling career with SAFe® but unsure where to begin or how to progress? 

We know that SAFe roles don’t always follow traditional career paths. That’s why we created our first-ever SAFe Careers Snapshot, based on employer data from Q4, 2023. 

Whether you’re eager to kickstart your SAFe journey or seeking ways to elevate your current role, the 2024 SAFe Careers Snapshot is your compass to navigate the exciting landscape of SAFe opportunities.

Our comprehensive report delves into the heart of the current job market for six key SAFe roles:

  • Scrum Master
  • Agile Coach
  • Product Owner (PO)
  • Product Manager
  • Release Train Engineer (RTE)
  • Architect 

Each role offers a detailed breakdown with insights into the skills, certifications, and earning potential required to excel, all based on real job market data.

Key SAFe Careers Snapshot Takeaways

The following trends were clearly identified across all the roles we researched: 

  1. SAFe roles and certifications offer higher earning potential than alternatives
  2. The technology industry is the top employer of SAFe roles
  3. Most employers using SAFe require or prefer certification
  4. SAFe roles facilitate career progression with further skill development
  5. 70 percent of Fortune 100 companies have certified SAFe professionals and consultants, as do a growing number of Global 2000

What Will You Learn in the 2024 SAFe® Careers Snapshot? 

If you’re wondering about the earning potential of someone in your role with a SAFe certification or how to reinvest in your career path this year, the SAFe Careers Snapshot has helpful guidance.

Here’s a sampling of the types of questions you’ll get answers to in the report, broken into three critical career categories.  

Salary and earning potential:

  • How much should I expect to earn in a role like Scrum Master
  • How much could my salary change with a SAFe certification?
  • How do years of experience or new skills impact my salary?

We analyzed market averages for similar roles and the difference a certification can make. We also charted progressions to higher-paying roles based on your current career stage.

Employability and competitiveness in the job market:

  • How many employers require SAFe certification? 
  • Does SAFe certification increase my chances of finding a job? 
  • Can I apply my SAFe certifications to other roles besides the one I currently hold? 

Career advancement: 

  • What skills can take you to the next level or land you that first dream job?
  • What certifications and experience do employers look for in a role like Agile Coach or Architect? 
  • I’m an RTE; where should I go next in my career?

We break down (by role) how many employers require and prefer SAFe certification as a demonstration of competency. The results show just how much you gain a competitive edge through active certification.

Screenshot from report

We understand career decisions aren’t one-size-fits-all. That’s why we’ve tailored our recommendations to fit multiple stages of career progression with the following categories:

  1. I want this job: You want to get hired at an organization that’s using SAFe
  2. I want to grow: You want to enhance your value with role-related training and development
  3. I want to advance: You want to position yourself for advancement to a new role

In addition to role-based recommendations, we included key findings for each role, a summary and outlook section, and additional information on the value of SAFe certification. Dive into some of the findings and hear about new releases to further your SAFe career journey in this recent webinar.

Download the report today and embark on a transformative journey toward realizing your full SAFe potential. This is the best time to start working differently and building your future.

Unlock Your Career
Access career advice tailored to your SAFe role and experience. 
Get Report

Your Guide to Writing Great Iteration and PI Objectives

Write PI objectives that get results using this guide

Agile is disciplined; not reckless.

Writing useful Iteration Goals and Planning Interval (PI) Objectives requires focus and discipline to achieve proper agility transformation. Bad objectives are one of the most common reasons organizations stop using them. This guide will help you write objectives that get results.

For simplicity, I will use “objectives” interchangeably when talking about iteration goals and PI objectives. Iteration goals are a scaled-down version of PI objectives, which means you can apply my guidance to both metric types.  

Why We Write Iteration and PI Objectives

Before you can write effective iteration and PI objectives, you must understand why we write them. It’s common for organizations to treat objectives as summaries of the features or stories teams commit to in the PI or iteration. But that is a misunderstanding of the objectives’ purpose.

Objectives represent the Agile Team’s commitment to delivery in the PI or iteration. They create a feedback loop from the business to the team. This loop ensures both parties understand the organizational vision:

  • Teams can confirm their understanding of the business’s desired outcomes
  • The business can clarify or further refine its value priorities

During an iteration or PI Planning, teams neither commit to all the features brought to PI Planning nor to whole features. So it’s important to understand what outcomes the features create. This gives everyone a chance to weigh in on those outcomes.

Agility Planning

How PI Objectives Support PI Planning

At PI Planning, the business gives its prioritized feature list to the Agile Release Train (ART). Then, teams on the ART sequence their stories and features based on their priorities and capacities.

During this process, teams will only commit to a subset of the business requests. PI objectives ensure teams commit to the proper subset of the business’s requests. Business value scores and conversations with business owners and key stakeholders also support team commitments.

Teams can then sequence stories and features into a delivery plan that leads to business outcomes. They communicate this plan through the objectives and summarize the business and technical goals in language the business understands. It’s much more than a summary of the planned work.

Another benefit of well-written objectives is they create an opportunity for alignment. Teams should be able to connect their features and stories to the highest value objectives. This makes it easier for the team(s) to see if they’re doing the most valuable work first. If not, they need to address priorities or technical dependencies.

How PI Objectives Are Evaluated by Business Owners

Besides understanding what objectives are for, we must also consider who objectives are for.

Teams write iteration and PI objectives for the Business Owners and key stakeholders. Teams do not write objectives for the Product Managers and Product Owners (POs) who manage the backlogs. The Product Managers and POs know what work they asked for.

Objectives communicate which business outcomes the team contributes to and why they matter. Teams then understand the deeper purpose behind their work, thus helping employee engagement. 

Business Owners evaluate PI objectives at the end of the PI to help the ART measure its performance and business value achieved. This helps determine ART predictability

One caveat to note: uncommitted objectives do not count towards a team’s predictability measure. Therefore, it’s important to write uncommitted objectives during PI planning to demonstrate that the team plans to complete the work but understands there are factors out of their control that may prevent them from delivering the value named in the objective. 

Near the end of PI planning, the Business Owners assign a business value to each PI objective. The business value is a number between 1 (lowest) and 10 (highest). Business Owners quantify the value of PI objectives through a conversation with the team. To determine the business value, they consider questions like

  • Is the work customer-facing?
  • Will the work improve future velocity and value delivery?
  • When will the value be delivered? 
  • How much of the organization will contribute to the objective?
  • How large will the impact be if the objective is not completed in the PI?

Once the PI is over, Business Owners assign Actual Business Value to the PI objectives. Actual Business Value is the amount of value that was delivered toward the objective in the PI.

For example, if one of your objectives was assigned a business value of 7, Business Owners will decide based on the team’s completed work how many of the 7 points were delivered. Like in PI planning, the scores are determined through conversations between the team and Business Owners. 

The structure of your PI objectives impacts how smoothly the Actual Business Value assignments go. Well-structured and clear objectives help Business Owners and teams easily measure what was delivered in the PI. The tips in the following sections outline how to write objectives Business Owners and teams will understand.

How to Write Meaningful Iteration and PI Objectives

Now that we’ve identified what objectives are and who they’re for, let’s inspect some PI objective examples from the field.

  • Implement Jenkins
  • Build 2 APIs
  • Build a database
  • Design a template

These examples do not effectively communicate the business outcomes the work produces. Additionally, these example objectives are written solely from the perspective of development or engineering teams and have no connection to why the work matters. If the objectives just restate the names of the features, they are a waste of time and energy.

Let’s review how to write objectives that create a meaningful connection between the technical work and the business.

First, all objectives should be S.M.A.R.T.

Specific: Be clear and specific so your goals are easier to understand.  Measurable: Measurable goals can be tracked and help you now when you're done. 
Achievable: Are there concrete steps within your control to getting it done?
Relevant: Does the work align to your values and long-term goals? 
Timely: An end date creates a clear time box in which to achieve the outcome or pivot.

Second, a good objective has five components that effectively communicate a business outcome and why it matters:

  • Activity: What will we be doing?
  • Scope: What are the boundaries of the work we will touch?
  • Beneficiary: Who is the intended recipient of the new work?
  • User Value: Why does this work matter to the new user?
  • Business Value: Why does this work matter to the business?

Examples of each component include:

  • Activity: Create, Implement, Define, Design, Enable, Modify, Etc.
  • Scope: App, API, Mobile, Web, Database, Dashboards, Etc.
  • Beneficiary: Customer, End-user, System Team, Mobile Users, Etc.
  • User Value: Faster, Better, Cheaper, Enhanced, New Features, Etc.
  • Business Value: Reduced Call Times, Increased Sales, Increased Data Efficacy, Reduced Loss to Fraud, Etc.

You can put these two steps together using the following formula.

PI Objective Formula
[Activity] + [Scope] so that [Beneficiary] have [User Value] to [Business Value]

Iteration and PI Objectives Examples from the Field

Here are a few examples of good iteration and PI objectives from three different contexts.

Financial services company example

  • Activity: Add
  • Scope: three new methods of e-payment
  • Beneficiary: so that mobile users with digital wallets
  • User Value: have an improved checkout experience
  • Business Value: to drive a three-percent revenue increase

“Add three new methods of e-payment so that mobile users with digital wallets have an improved checkout experience to drive a 3 percent revenue increase.”

Digital transformation team example

  • Activity: Create
  • Scope: an Agile Ways of Working guide
  • Beneficiary: so that {Company} employees
  • User Value: have clear guidance on implementing Agile behaviors
  • Business Value: to enable a faster flow of value with higher quality delivery

Create an Agile Ways of Working guide so that {Company} employees have clear guidance on implementing Agile behaviors to enable faster flow of value with higher quality delivery.”

An example from a team building a new customer data platform

  • Activity: Create
  • Scope: a single source of truth customer database
  • Beneficiary: so that customers who call us
  • User Value: have an improved customer experience
  • Business Value: with a 25 percent shorter time to resolution

“Create a single-source of truth customer database so that customers who call us have an improved customer experience with a 25 percent shorter time to resolution.”

Using the above approaches creates a powerful statement of business value. And it creates greater alignment between the teams’ work and business strategy. Tip: teams can write their objectives using the bulleted format to make them even clearer.

Find More Objectives Resources in SAFe® Studio

Iteration and PI objectives create feedback loops between the teams and the business. They also assess how well the team’s work aligns with organizational goals. When you understand this connection, you can improve your implementation of these objectives.

If you have objective-writing stories, good or bad, in your organization, share them with me. Together, we can improve this process for everyone.

Objective-writing resources in SAFe® Studio:


About Saahil Panikar

Saahil is a SAFe® Program Consultant Trainer (SPCT)

Saahil is a SAFe® Practice Consultant Trainer (SPCT) and certified Enterprise Business Agility Strategist. He is determined to help organizations extend their Agility beyond IT. He started his career as a Data Scientist, and Saahil is still passionate about the metrics behind successful transformations. As a former collegiate rugby player for the University of Florida, Saahil bleeds Orange and Blue and is a die-hard fan of Gator Football.

Connect with Saahil on LinkedIn

The Complete Guide to Measuring Team and Technical Agility


Before writing this article, we were curious to know more about how often teams are measuring their agility (if ever). We ran an informal poll on LinkedIn, and the results were fascinating.

Assessing your team’s agility is a crucial step toward continuous improvement. After all, you can’t get where you want to go if you don’t know where you are.

But you probably have questions: How do you measure a team’s agility? Who should do it and when? What happens with the data you collect, and what should you do afterwards?

We’re here to answer these questions. Use the following sections to guide you:

  • What is Team and Technical Agility?
  • What is the team and technical agility assessment?
  • Assessment tips, including before, during, and after you assess
  • Team and technical agility assessment resources

These sections include a video showing where to find the team and technical agility assessment in SAFe® Studio and what the assessment looks like.

What Is Team and Technical Agility?

Agile Teams, Built-In Quality, and Teams of Agile Teams graphic from Framework article
The three dimensions of team and technical agility

Before jumping into the assessment, it’s important to understand team and technical agility. This will help determine if you want to run the assessment and which areas may be most beneficial for your team. 

Team and technical agility is a team’s ability to deliver solutions that meet customers’ needs. It’s one of the seven business agility core competencies. 

Team and technical agility contains three parts:

  • Agile teams
  • Teams of Agile teams
  • Built-in Quality

Agile teams

As the basic building block of an Agile Release Train (ART), the Agile team is responsible for 

  • Connecting with the customer
  • Planning the work
  • Delivering value
  • Getting feedback
  • Improving relentlessly

They’re the ones on the ground bringing the product roadmap to life. They must also plan, commit, and improve together to execute in unison. 

Teams of Agile teams

An ART is where Agile teams work together to deliver solutions. The ART has the same responsibilities as the Agile team but on a larger scale. The ART also plans, commits, executes, and improves together. 

Built-in quality

Since Agile teams and ARTs are responsible for building products and delivering value, they must follow built-in quality practices. These practices apply during development and the review process. 

As we state in the Framework article: “Built-in quality is even more critical for large solutions, as the cumulative effect of even minor defects and wrong assumptions may create unacceptable consequences.”

It’s important to consider all three areas when assessing your team’s agility.

What Is the Team and Technical Agility Assessment?

Team and Technical Agility Assessment results screenshot

The team and technical agility assessment is a review tool that measures your team’s agility through a comprehensive survey and set of recommendations. 

However, there’s more to it than that. We’ll review the information you need to fully understand what you learn from this assessment and how to access it.

Each question in the assessment asks team members to rate statements about their teams on the following scale:

  1. True
  2. More True than False
  3. Neither False nor True
  4. More False than True
  5. False
  6. Not Applicable
The assessment answer options

What information can I get from the team and technical agility assessment?

Team and technical agility assessment helps teams identify areas for improvement, highlight strengths worth celebrating, and benchmark performance against future progress. It asks questions like the following about how your team operates:

  • Do team members have cross-functional skills? 
  • Do you have a dedicated Product Owner (PO)
  • How are teams of teams organized in your ARTs? 
  • Do you use technical practices like test-driven development and peer review? 
  • How does your team tackle technical debt?

For facilitators, including Scrum Masters/Team Coaches (SM/TC), the team and technical agility assessment is a great way to create space for team reflection beyond a typical retrospective. It can also increase engagement and buy-in for the team to take on actionable improvement items.

Once the assessment is complete, the team receives the results broken down by each category of team and technical agility.

Team and Technical Agility Assessment results (aggregate view)

When you click on a category, the results break into three sub-categories to drill down even further into the responses.

Team and Technical Agility results (drilled down view of Agile Teams category)

In addition to the responses, you receive key strengths. The answers with the highest average scores and the lowest deviations between team members are key strengths.

Assessment results showing statements with the highest scores and highest amount of agreement

Inversely, you also get key opportunities. The answers with the lowest average scores and highest deviations between team members highlight areas where more focus is needed.

Screenshot of areas of improvement in assessment results

The assessment will include growth recommendations based on your team’s results. These are suggested next steps for your team to improve the statements and areas where it scored lowest.

Screenshot of a growth recommendation example from the TTA assessment

How do I access the team and technical agility assessment?

You can access the team and technical agility assessment in SAFe® Studio. Use the following steps:

  1. Log into SAFe® Studio.
  2. Navigate to the My SAFe Assessments page under “Practice” in the main navigation bar on the left side of the homepage. 
  3. Click the Learn More button under Comparative Agility, our Measure and Grow Partner. The team and technical agility assessment runs through their platform. 
  4. Click on the Click Here to Get Started button.
  5. From there, you’ll land on the Comparative Agility website. If you want to create an account to save your progress and assessment data, you may do so. If you’d like to skip to the assessment, click on Start Survey in the bottom right of the screen. 
  6. Select Team and Technical Agility Assessment.
  7. Click Continue in the pop-up that appears. 
  8. The assessment will then start in a new tab. 

See each of these steps in action in this video.

Team and Technical Agility Assessment Best Practices

To ensure you get the best results from the team and technical agility assessment, we’ve compiled recommended actions before, during, and after the assessment.

Before facilitating the team and technical agility assessment

Being intentional about how you set up the assessment with your team will give you results you can work with after the assessment.

Who should run the assessment

Running assessments can be tricky for a few reasons. 

  • Teams might feel defensive about being “measured” 
  • Self-reported data isn’t always objective or accurate 
  • Emotions and framing can impact the results 

That’s why SAFe recommends a SM/TC or other trained facilitator run the assessment. A SM/TC, SPC, or Agile coach can help ensure teams understand their performance and know where to focus their improvement efforts.

When to run the assessment

It’s never too early or too late to know where you stand. Running the assessment for your team when starting with an Agile transformation will help you target the areas where you most need to improve, but you can assess team performance anytime. 

As for how frequently you should run it, it’s probably more valuable to do it on a cadence—either once a PI or once a year, depending on the team’s goals and interests. There’s a lot of motivation in seeing how you grow and progress as a team, and it’s easier to celebrate wins demonstrated through documented change over time.

How to prepare to run the assessment

Before you start the team and technical agility assessment, define your team’s shared purpose. This will help you generate buy-in and excitement. If the team feels like they’re just completing the assessment because the SM/TC said so, it won’t be successful. They must see value in it for them as individuals and as a team. 

Some questions we like to ask to set this purpose include: 

  • What do we want it to feel like to be part of this team two PIs from now?
  • How will our work lives be improved when we check in one year from now?

We like to kick off the assessment with a meeting invitation with a draft agenda if you’re completing the assessment as a team. Sending this ahead of time gives everyone a chance to prepare. You can keep the agenda loose, so you have the flexibility to spend more or less time discussing particular areas, depending on how your team chooses to engage with each question.

If you’re completing the assessment asynchronously, send out a deadline of when team members must complete the assessment by. Then send a meeting invitation for reviewing the results as a team.

Facilitating the team and technical agility assessment

Now it’s time to complete the assessment. These are a couple of tips to consider when facilitating the assessment for your team.

Running the assessment

Ways to run the assessment graphic

There are two ways you can approach running this assessment. Each has a different value. Choose the option based on your team’s culture. 

Option one is to have team members take the assessment individually and then discuss the results as a group. You can do this one of two ways: team members complete the assessment asynchronously by a certain date so you can review results as a team later or set a time for teammates to take the assessment at the same time and discuss results immediately afterwards.   

Option two is to discuss the assessment questions as a team and agree on the group’s answers.

When we ran this assessment, we had team members do it individually so we could focus our time together on reviews and actions. If you run it asynchronously, be available to team members if they have questions before you review your answers.

Keeping the assessment anonymous

Keeping the answers anonymous is helpful if you want more accurate results. We like to be clear upfront that the assessment will be anonymous so that team members can feel confident about being honest in their answers. 

For example, with our teams, we not only explained the confidentiality of individuals’ answers but also demonstrated in real time how the tool works so that the process would feel open and transparent. We also clarified that we would not be using the data to compare teams to each other or for any purpose other than to gain a shared understanding of where we are selecting improvement items based on the team’s stated goals.

However, if you choose to complete the assessment as a team and decide on each answer together, answering anonymously isn’t possible. Choose the option you think works best for your team’s culture.

After facilitating the team and technical agility assessment

The main point of running the team and technical agility assessment is to get the information it provides. What you do with this information determines its impact on your team.

What to do with the assessment results

Once you’ve completed the assessment using one of the two approaches,

  • Review sections individually
  • Show aggregate results
  • Allow team to notice top strengths and areas for improvement
  • Don’t tell the team what you think as facilitator

We learned in the assessment how much we disagreed on some items. For example, even with a statement as simple as “Teams execute standard iteration events,” some team members scored us a five (out of five) while others scored us a one. 

We treated every score as valid and sought to understand why some team members scored high and others low, just like we do when estimating the size of a user story. 

This discussion lead to:

  • Knowing where to improve
  • Uncovering different perspectives
  • Showing how we were doing as a team
  • Prompting rich conversations
  • Encouraging meaningful progress

We know it can be challenging to give and receive feedback, especially when the feedback focuses on improving. Here are a few ways to make conversations about the assessment results productive with your team.

How to review assessment results graphic

Using the assessment to improve

With your assessment results in hand, it’s time to take actions that help you improve. 

For each dimension of the team and technical agility assessment, SAFe provides growth recommendations to help teams focus on the areas that matter most and prioritize their next steps. 

Growth recommendations are helpful because they’re bite-sized actions to break down the overall area of improvement. They’re easy to fit into the PI without overloading capacity. 

Examples of growth recommendations:

Example 1:

  • As a SM/TC, watch the How to Run an Effective Backlog Refinement Workshop video with the team.
  • Discuss the importance of refining the backlog to ensure upcoming work is well-defined and there is no work outside the backlog. 
  • Schedule backlog refinement on a cadence.

Example 2: 

  • As a team, use the Identifying Key Stakeholders Collaborate template and answer the following questions:
    • Who is the customer of our work? (This could be internal or external customers.)
    • Who is affected by our work?
    • Who provides key inputs or influences the goals of our work?
    • Whose feedback do we need to progress the work?
  • Maintain a list of key stakeholders.

Example 3:

  • As a team, collect metrics to understand the current situation. Include the total number of tests, the frequency each test is run, test coverage, the time required to build the Solution and execute the tests, the percentage of automated tests, and the number of defects. Additionally, quantify the manual testing effort each Iteration and during a significant new release.
  • Present and discuss these metrics with the key stakeholders, highlighting how the lack of automation impacts quality and time to market.
  • Create a plan for increasing the amount of test automation.

Here are some actions you should take once you’ve completed the assessment: 

  • Review the team growth recommendations together to generate ideas
  • Select your preferred actions (you can use dot voting or WSJF calculations for this; SAFe® Studio has ready-made templates you can use)
  • Capture your team’s next steps in writing: “Our team decided to do X, Y, and Z.” 
  • Follow through on your actions so that you’re connecting them to the desired outcome
  • Review your progress at the beginning of iteration retrospectives

Finally, you’ll want to use these actions to set a focus for the team throughout the PI. Then check in with Business Owners at PI planning on how these improvements have helped the organization progress toward its goals.

Tip: Simultaneously addressing all focus areas may be tempting, but you want to limit your WIP. 

To do this, pick one focus area based on the results. You can add the remaining focus areas to the backlog to begin working on once you’ve addressed the first one.

Ways to prioritize action items: WSJF, Team vote, Timeliness, Ease, Team capacity

Feeling overwhelmed by the action items for your team? Try breaking them down into bite-size tasks to make it easier on capacity while still making progress.

These are some examples.

Bite-size action item examples

Team and Technical Agility Assessment Resources

Here are some additional resources to consider when assessing your team’s agility. 

About the authors

Lieschen is a product owner and former scrum master at Scaled Agile.

Lieschen Gargano is a Release Train Engineer and conflict guru, thanks in part to her master’s degree in conflict resolution. As the RTE for the development value stream at Scaled Agile, Inc., Lieschen loves cultivating new ideas and approaches to Agile to keep things fresh and engaging. She also has a passion for developing practices for happy teams of teams across the full business value stream.

Sam is a certified SAFe® 6 Practice Consultant (SPC) and serves as the SM/TC for several teams at Scaled Agile. His recent career highlights include entertaining the crowd as the co-host of the 2019, 2020, and 2021 Global SAFe® Summits. A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Sam lives in Kailua, Hawaii, where he enjoys CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting.

The SAFe Community Platform Is Now Part of SAFe Studio: Here’s What’s New

This month, we introduced the latest version of SAFe® and a new way to connect with the SAFe community. SAFe 6.0 is the newest Framework version, and it includes a new Big Picture, courseware, assets, and an upgrade for most SAFe roles. 

But our launch included more than a new version of SAFe. We also released SAFe® Studio, which has replaced the SAFe Community Platform. You can read more about the full 2023 March Launch on our release notes page

In this blog, we’ll focus on SAFe® Studio. 

SAFe® Studio makes it easier to manage your transformation in one place. We like to say that SAFe® Studio “brings the Framework to life” and helps to unlock the Agile potential in each person, team, and enterprise. The tools, guidance, community, and courses are now in a single platform, and we’re still working hard to contextualize this content for every role and language. 

Don’t just take our word for it; here’s some early feedback

In this blog, we’ll discuss

If you only want to see what’s new in SAFe® Studio, jump to that section from the above table of contents. 

We recommend reading from start to finish if you’re new to SAFe and want to understand why this change matters and what the buzz is about.

SAFe® Studio, the New Way to Access the SAFe Community Platform

Since 2016, the SAFe Community Platform was how everyone accessed SAFe learning assets, course materials, and the SAFe community. 

The SAFe Community Platform is now part of SAFe® Studio. This new platform is the core of a simpler, unified experience for users throughout the SAFe ecosystem.

Read the SAFe Studio brief now

What is SAFe® Studio?

SAFe® Studio houses all of the new SAFe 6.0 assets. It’s your one-stop shop for accessing everything you need to learn, practice, and manage SAFe daily. 

Our new platform includes:

  • All the information for your upcoming courses in one place and an easy way to manage your current certifications
  • A range of content, from bite-size for daily learning to more in-depth for establishing SAFe in your organization. This includes all content previously accessible on the SAFe Community Platform. 
  • The tools you need to make the transformation stick, from value-stream mapping workshops to PI Planning templates
  • A community of SAFe professionals and partners available to support your transformation

Why the change to SAFe® Studio?

Managing organizational change is hard. It involves translation, change management, and maintenance of many moving parts. And it’s even harder when you have to look for resources in multiple places or create your own. This is where SAFe® Studio comes in.

SAFe® Studio is the evolution of our platform for learning, practicing, and managing SAFe.

We built SAFe® Studio with the enterprise in mind, but also knowing that individuals make change stick. Our goal is to give people in every role the tools and knowledge needed for meaningful growth and a different approach to work.

With everything now in one place, managing organizational change is easier with SAFe® Studio.

What’s New in SAFe® Studio?

Here’s what you can access in SAFe® Studio today. Our product roadmap is packed with planned updates, so stay tuned for future announcements.

If you want a quick overview of what’s new, watch this video or complete this quick online learning.

A reimagined design

SAFe® Studio has a brand-new look and feel. It’s a fully updated design and user experience from the previous SAFe Community Platform. The updates start with the login page, but you’ll notice a similar design throughout the platform. We’ve updated the color palette to match our new brand colors. And we’ve made it a more seamless and cohesive experience to move from our different Scaled Agile websites to the platform.

Unauthenticated login page screenshot

The unauthenticated experience

Before you even log into SAFe® Studio, you have options to engage with our content from a central location. 

The unauthenticated homepage includes direct links to the Scaled Agile Framework website, training calendar, SAFe Summit content, and the What’s New section. The What’s New section includes all new content from across Scaled Agile’s web properties.

Login page screenshot


Starting with the login screen, you’ll see the new overall look and feel reflected through the color palette, fonts, and platform logo.



The navigation bar now lives on the left side of the SAFe® Studio home screen. The intuitive design highlights specific sections for learning, implementing, practicing, and connecting. It also includes the Partner Portal.

Navigation menu screenshot
Practice menu screenshot

If you’re wondering where previous sections went, don’t worry. You can find them in new locations:

  • The Measure and Grow section is now under Practice, and it has a new title: My SAFe Assessments
  • SAFe Collaborate is also under a new name in the Practice section: My SAFe Events 

It’s never been easier to find what you need for daily practice.

Quick Links

After logging in, you’ll note a refreshed and rearranged layout from the old SAFe Community Platform experience. The SAFe® Studio homepage is now your launchpad for finding content, tools, and resources. 

For starters, the Quick Links section gives you easy access to our most popular resources, including the Scaled Agile Framework website.

Quick links section screenshot
Screenshot of Recommended section on the homepage

Recommended content

Next, you’ll notice a new section labeled “Recommended Content.” This area shows curated content based on your role. The Recommended section is why it’s more important than ever to keep your role in SAFe® Studio updated. An up-to-date role in SAFe® Studio ensures we recommend the best content for you in this section.

Curated content from across Scaled Agile web platforms

The What’s New section shows you the latest content from across all our websites. 

Find content from staging.scaledagile.com, scaledagileframework.com, and SAFe® Studio displayed right on your homepage. You can even peruse by content type, from posts to videos. 

Screenshot of What's New section on the SAFe Studio homepage

You’ll see curated content from across all websites throughout SAFe® Studio, meaning you no longer have to visit each site individually to find the resource you’re looking for.

Screenshot of how to access Achievements and Certifications from the SAFe Studio homepage

Achievements and certifications
Quickly access your achievements and certifications at any time from the bottom right corner of the SAFe® Studio homepage. Users can earn achievements from taking classes or completing learning in the My Learning section of SAFe® Studio.

Learn section

The first section in SAFe® Studio after the homepage is the Learn section. You can find links to the Framework, learning plans, courses, customer stories, and the SAFe Glossary here. 

Resource and Media Library screenshot

In addition, we’ve created a Resource and Media Library section where you can find everything from our collection of videos and podcasts to previous SAFe Summit content and recommended reading. 

This is where you’ll find all of the resources, both new and old, you need to learn SAFe.

Screenshot of the SAFe Enterprise page in SAFe Studio

Refreshed SAFe Enterprise section

SAFe Enterprise subscribers can access curated content, from webinars to information sheets to relevant blog posts and resources to use within your enterprises.

Updated SAFe 6.0 resources

We’ve updated many of our resources to new SAFe 6.0 guidance and language. These are in their applicable sections and on the SAFe Toolkits page under the Practice dropdown.

Why join SAFe® Studio?

Proven Results
- 35% increase in productivity
- 50% defect reduction
- 30% happier, more engaged employees
- 50% faster time-to-market
*Typical results reported by enterprises using SAFe

We built SAFe® Studio to help everyone succeed in their transformation role. 

For transformation leaders:

  • SAFe® Studio will expand with your transformation because we built it for enterprises like yours
  • Curate the content your transformation members digest with customizable enterprise playlists
  • Engage transformation members with gamification

For SAFe professionals:

  • Easily find everything you need to succeed in your current role and prepare for your next one
  • Get daily SAFe guidance and recommendations based not only on your role but also your enterprise context and learning or practice behavior with a new user interface
  • Earn points for engaging with your organization’s transformation
  • Consume helpful and specific SAFe content that your coaches and LACE leaders have selected for you
  • Quickly see your current certification level to ensure you stay up-to-date

For coaches:

  • Tailor SAFe content to your organization’s needs with customizable enterprise playlists
  • Quickly find training materials, course information, and digestible content you can share with your learners

How do I join SAFe® Studio?

You can join SAFe® Studio one of three ways.

For the individual:

You can purchase a foundational membership, which includes virtual classrooms, learning plans, practice assets, role-based content, self-paced online learning (including SAFe Jumpstart), and enterprise collaboration tools in addition to SAFe® Studio access. 

For the course participant:

When you attend a SAFe course, you also get access to SAFe® Studio for 12 months after your first class. 

For the enterprise:

When your organization purchases a SAFe Enterprise Subscription, organization members can access SAFe® Studio. Administrators also get access to assign and track the transformation. In addition, the organization receives unlimited access to trainer-led courses.

SAFe® Studio FAQs

What’s the difference between SAFe, the Framework, and SAFe® Studio?

SAFe is our full solution brand, including the Scaled Agile Framework, SAFe® Studio, the partner program, and the community of SAFe professionals.

The Framework represents the intellectual property (IP)—the ideas—that underpin all guidance we offer.  

We deliver that guidance through versioned releases in updated articles, courses, downloadable assets, online learning, instructional videos, and more.  

SAFe 6.0 represents the newest version of the Framework, along with all its associated materials. Users can access that guidance through SAFe® Studio.

What Does SAFe® Studio Include?

SAFe® Studio gives you access to courses so you can train teams on SAFe principles, roles, and practices. This material includes:

  • Easily-digestible content and practical takeaways for every role
  • Curated, localized learning experiences and exams
  • Training for all levels from beginner to expert

SAFe® Studio also gives you the tools to build momentum by putting training into practice, like:

  • Online Agile assessments
  • Collaborative tools for planning and practicing SAFe events
  • Role-specific resources for daily work

Finally, SAFe® Studio connects you with a community of over 400,000 practitioners to help you empower your teams.

  • Connect with SAFe experts, Agile coaches, and practitioners globally
  • Join forums and peer discussions on best practices
  • Access the latest media from SAFe Summits and other high-value events

How is SAFe® Studio different than the SAFe Community Platform?

SAFe® Studio is now the unified platform for learning, practicing, and managing SAFe. Finding what you need when practicing SAFe daily is easier in the new platform. It also has a more intuitive and seamless interface than the previous platform. 

SAFe® Studio includes elements from the Community Platform but also incorporates Collaborate, Measure and Grow surveys, and the Framework itself to further assist learners, leaders, and change agents in driving successful organizational change.

For answers to other questions, check out our SAFe® Studio FAQs.  

Log into SAFe® Studio to start experiencing these new updates yourself. And don’t forget to set your role, so you receive role-specific content.

Get daily guidance to drive successful change in your organization
Log in Now

About Alysa Kirkpatrick

Alysa Kirkpatrick is a Product Management Director at Scaled Agile, Inc., with fortune 500 and multi-industry experience. She has expertise in all stages of Agile Scrum/Kanban project lifecycle and digital transformation and has worked with cross-functional teams and business units.

Connect with Alysa on LinkedIn

What Is a SAFe Practice Consultant-T (SPCT) and How Can You Become One?

SAFe Program Consultant Trainer

“I am so glad I did it. It is unreservedly the single most important thing I have done in my career. If you are a seasoned professional with a commitment to lifelong learning and are wondering what your next career move might be, I highly recommend you take a look at the SPCT program.”

 Michael Casey, SPCT, Agile Big Picture

As more organizations engage with SAFe®, it’s even more critical that we have knowledgeable, experienced SAFe leaders to help transform large enterprises and continue to shape the way SAFe is being implemented. If you have deep SAFe knowledge, are a lifelong learner, are SAFe Practice Consultant (SPC)-certified, and excel in training and coaching, I invite you to consider becoming a SAFe Practice Consultant-T (SPCT).

“As is the case with any certification, you should carefully evaluate SAFe instructors and consultants, and make sure that they have demonstrated experience that is relevant to the role you are asking them to take on. Do not rely on certifications alone as a measure of the skills of a consultant or prospective employee. A notable exception to this is the SAFe Program Consultant Trainer (SPCT) certification [now SAFe® Practice Consultant-T], which does require demonstrated experience with Agile, software development or product management, training and consulting. If you’re hiring someone who has [an] SPCT certification, you can be confident that they do have experience in these areas, as well as experience with SAFe implementation at multiple organizations. However, SPCTs are in short supply. As of February 2020, there are fewer than 100 people worldwide holding this certification.”

Gartner, “A Technical Professional’s Guide to Successful Adoption of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe),” Kevin Matheny, Bill Holz, 13 April 2020

SPCTs are among the most highly regarded SAFe experts in the world. They are also the most sought-after SAFe Trainers, SAFe Trusted Advisors, and SAFe Transformation Architects among enterprises seeking to improve their methods of working and pursue business agility.

As transformation catalysts, SPCTs share their vast industry expertise and skills through teaching, coaching, and handling the most challenging SAFe implementations. And they are experts at communicating, consulting, and creating SAFe knowledge.

SPCT is the most advanced certification you can achieve with SAFe and can be career-changing through job advancement and new opportunities.

SPCT credentials bring the highest level of credibility, which opens doors for you and generates confidence within the organization that you’re helping to create the highest-quality SAFe implementation.

That said, you should know that our selection process has very high standards, and not everyone will get in. To be accepted into the program, you must not only meet the skills and experience prerequisites but have presence and gravitas. The requirements and expectations are slightly different for partners and enterprise employees.

Nominees must either be sponsored by a Gold Partner or an enterprise customer with a SAFe® Enterprise Subscription. However, both must be full-time employees of their respective organizations and are expected to have several years of experience in the tech industry, with five years of Lean-Agile experience and five years of software/systems/product experience.

Here’s how the process works:

  1. Get nominated: If you or someone you know would make a good candidate, request access to the SPCT portal by sending an email to spct@staging.scaledagile.com. Through the portal, you can submit your documented accomplishments as you achieve them.
  2. Have an interview: After your nomination requirements have been reviewed and accepted, you’ll have two screening interviews with SPCT guides. Our team will then determine whether you’d be a good fit for the program.
  3. Attend Immersion Week: If you’re accepted, you’ll be invited to attend SPCT Immersion Week (currently, we hold three to four classes per year) where nominees showcase their knowledge, skills, and abilities in training and consulting with SAFe. You’ll also learn how to teach an Implementing SAFe® class and may even work on a class project that contributes to SAFe’s intellectual property.
  4. Complete field experience: After Immersion Week, you’ll need to complete additional certification requirements that include teaching SAFe classes, completing SAFe implementations, and finishing the required readings.
  5. Co-teach an Implementing SAFe® class: Lastly, you’ll participate in a pairing test by co-teaching an Implementing SAFe® class with one of our guides. During this class, we’ll evaluate your presentation, training, and coaching skills.

I believe becoming an SPCT is a valuable and rewarding career goal to aspire to—but I’m not the only one. Here’s what some of our SPCTs have to say:

“SPCTs are differentiated in the marketplace. The SPCT certification is rare and the knowledge and expertise it represents is valuable and much in demand.” 

—Simon Chesney, iSPCT, Western Digital Corporation

“Becoming an SPCT takes hard work, but it will pay you back many times over what you put into it in personal growth and career advancement. Get on board the SPCT program and you won’t look back!” 

—Michael Casey, SPCT, Agile Big Picture

I encourage you to explore what it takes to become an SPCT to see if this would be a good fit for you or someone you know.

Learn more by contacting spct@staging.scaledagile.com.

About Adam Mattis

Adam Mattis is a SAFe® Fellow and SAFe® Practice Consultant-Trainer (SPCT) at Scaled Agile with many years of experience overseeing SAFe implementations across various industries. He’s also an experienced transformation architect, engaging speaker, energetic trainer, and a regular contributor to the broader Lean-Agile and educational communities. Learn more about Adam at adammattis.com.

View all posts by Adam Mattis


Back to: All Blog Posts

Next: Scrum Master Stories: Resolving Conflict

My Release Train Engineer Career Path: Transition from RTE to Enterprise Agile Coach

Enterprise Agile Coach

Recently I’ve transitioned from working as a Release Train Engineer (RTE) to an Enterprise Agile Coach. While the RTE career path isn’t always well defined, this has been a rewarding journey personally for my professional development and collectively for growing our organizational capabilities. 

In this blog post, I discuss:

  • Enterprise Agile Coach as a potential development path for RTEs
  • My personal experience nine months into the role and what an Enterprise Agile Coach does in a SAFe® context
  • Learning paths for RTEs and several key insights

Pointing the Release Train Engineer Career Path toward Enterprise Agile Coach

If you look at the SAFe Big Picture (in any configuration), you can quickly identify Agile coaching roles at the team (Scrum Master) and program level (Release Train Engineer). But beyond these roles, the development path isn’t always clear. 

Release Train Engineer

What are the opportunities for Release Train Engineers?

To start, current Release Train Engineers could look at either a Solutions Train Engineer (STE) or a SAFe® Program Consultant (SPC) role. STE is a good progression, but the role only exists in very large enterprises (typically comprising thousands of people) building large solutions (for example, cyber-physical) that require multiple ARTs for development. SPC is a much more common role because it is required at organizations of any size. SPCs play a critical part in implementing SAFe.

But, because SAFe leverages the concept of a dual-operating system (proposed by John Kotter), SPC is often more a set of responsibilities than a specific position. So although many RTEs become certified SPCs to deepen their knowledge of SAFe and increase their own SAFe transformation capabilities, SPC is their next credential but not their next job title.

Enterprise Agile Coach is a common job title for someone who operates at an organizational level and works across organizational boundaries to coach Agile transformations and enable business agility.

These functions make Enterprise Agile Coach an excellent progression for an RTE whose scope has expanded beyond an ART to a broader role in their organization.

Release Train Engineer

What Does an Enterprise Agile Coach Do? My Experience After Nine Months

After working in my current organization for six months, it became clear the role had grown significantly beyond Release Train Engineer. I found myself increasingly leading a SAFe implementation rather than facilitating an ART. I was also managing an Agile delivery function/department with Scrum Masters working on projects operating outside of SAFe. I was promoted to Enterprise Agile Coach to recognize these responsibilities and to make my role clearer across the organization. 

Some of my new Enterprise Agile Coach responsibilities, which are described in SAFe, include:

  • Delivering and provisioning SAFe training across the business
  • Establishing a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE)
  • Value Stream identification and onboarding new teams onto our ARTs
  • Extending practices to the portfolio level
  • Leading Communities of Practice

RTEs or Scrum Masters may occasionally do (or directly support) some of this work, but there is an essential distinction between leading and contributing to these activities. Additionally, RTEs and Scrum Masters have program and team-level responsibilities that they need the capacity to focus on.

My new role also encompasses leading an Agile delivery function/department, which has a wider scope than our current SAFe implementation. Some of our delivery teams work outside our SAFe ARTs on independent projects with fixed durations. Taking a more complete and integrated view of how we deliver our value streams and projects has allowed us to gain a broader range of perspectives and insights, share knowledge, and apply standard practices across teams when beneficial. 

In my experience, the biggest shift from RTE to Enterprise Agile Coach has been learning to influence across organizational boundaries and starting to more fully apply systems thinking (SAFe Principle #2). This includes partnering with departments beyond Product and Technology (like HR) to examine the impact of policies, consider the working environment, and remove systemic impediments. I’ve also gained a better understanding of how value flows across the organization rather than just focusing on optimizing development activities.

One of the challenges that I had not anticipated was the amount of work needed to develop my own personal leadership capabilities. Here are a few of the practices I’ve found beneficial for building a new skill set:

  • Regular professional coaching
  • Developmental practices such as meditation and journaling
  • Leadership self-assessments
  • Enterprise Coaching Mastercamp

Additionally, I’ve continued reading widely to expand my knowledge in some of the disciplines listed in the next section.

Going Beyond Release Train Engineer Skills: My Key Learnings

Enterprise Agile Coaching is shaped by a wide range of disciplines. If you’re interested in moving to Enterprise Agile Coach, some of the areas you might start exploring include:

  • Systems thinking and complexity theory
  • Organizational design
  • Organizational change process
  • Developmental theory
  • Leadership development
  • SPC certification (for advanced knowledge of SAFe)
Release Train Engineer

Some of the ideas and concepts that immediately resonated with my own experience are:

  • Holons – The concept that something is simultaneously a whole in and of itself but also a part of a larger whole (see Arthur Koestler, Ken Wilber, and Michael K. Spayd). This is a useful way to consider individuals, teams, ARTs, and the enterprise. 
  • Fractals – Patterns reoccur at various scales, and this occurs throughout the organization (Mandelbrot).
  • Developmental stage models – Understanding how organizations can be centered in a developmental stage and how their worldviews and values affect the system and culture (see Clare Graves, Don Beck, Ken Wilber, and Frederic Laloux).

Defining Your Release Train Engineer Career Path: More Resources

Enterprise coaching can be very challenging but is also incredibly rewarding. Working more holistically as an Enterprise Agile Coach across the organization has broadened my perspective and understanding of how systems work. 

My previous work as an RTE gave me access to program-level perspectives and insights invaluable to my current role. For any RTE that wants to move into Enterprise Agile Coaching, I recommend seeking out mentors and peers to help support you in your learning journey, adopting a strong growth mindset, and investing in your own development as a leader. 

From Our Team

Defining your RTE career path can start now with a few small steps. Below are more resources you can use to improve your daily practice as an RTE and clarify your professional development path:

About Tom Boswell

Tom Boswell is an Enterprise Agile Coach

Tom Boswell is an Enterprise Agile Coach and certified SPC and RTE. He has worked at multiple organizations using SAFe, coaching at the team, program, and enterprise levels. He is passionate about lifelong learning, helping others grow, empowering teams, and co-creating more meaningful workplaces. Connect with Tom on LinkedIn or at www.tomboswell.com.

How Does a Scrum Master Coach a Team with More Experience Than Them?

I’ve found myself in many different contexts throughout my career as a SAFe scrum master:

  • Multimedia 
  • Instructional design 
  • Marketing 
  • Globalization 
  • Data analytics

Make no mistake. I am neither an animation artist nor an instructional designer, nor a digital marketer, nor fluent in a second language, nor can I write SQL (or any code for that matter).

So how do I effectively work as a scrum master when I don’t share technical experience with my teammates? I’ll help you answer that common question by focusing on three areas: 

  • What does a scrum master do?
  • What if I’m a scrum master without experience?
  • Setting scrum master improvement areas

What does a scrum master do?

This sounds simplistic, but there’s a reason! Reviewing the basics, in this case the role of scrum master, can help reaffirm your role on the team you serve and help you clearly state it to others. 

Your goals are simple (not easy), and they often include:

SAFe® scrum master

  1. Helping the team navigate ART practices and processes. In doing so, the team can participate fully and have their interests, concerns, questions, ideas, and voices heard. This is especially true for new team members. Everyone will need time and support to adjust to a new way of working, no matter their experience level. Scrum masters are a little bit like the glue that holds cross-functional teams and ARTs together.
  2. Allowing teammates to focus on execution. As experts in their domain, your team members are usually deep in the trenches of value delivery. Most other team responsibilities are shared between you, the product owner, and the product manager. This means scrum masters need to be experts at supporting the PO, PM, and other team members at defining the why, gathering requirements, prioritizing work, and knocking on doors to unblock progress.
  3. Being a champion of relentless improvement. You should help define success metrics, measure the team’s value delivery, and create a forum for the group to view and discuss the results. Teams might think they’ve defined value delivery well, but scrum masters are uniquely positioned to provide essential perspectives from the ART, customers, business owners, and other teams. Aside from objective metrics, you can also discuss qualitative experiences like team dynamics. In partnership with the product owner, you can create a system to start incrementally improving. The organizational value realized from increasing and sustaining employee participation is always significant.

The full SAFe® scrum master article has more extensive guidance to help you define role expectations and responsibilities. As a quick reference, the image below will help you visualize three core areas where any scrum master can immediately start to add value.

Does this work require you to know what the team is making and how? Yes, to an extent. But it often doesn’t require the depth of specialized knowledge needed to build end solutions. In fact, another voice with the same experience and biases might only add to a myopic perspective and goals.

What if I’m a scrum master without experience?

Starting as a scrum master without experience is a little overwhelming.

When it feels like too much, there are some foundational concepts you can use to stay grounded and help your team succeed.

Below are three key reminders for scrum masters that are new to their role or serving an experienced team in an unfamiliar domain.

SAFe® scrum master

1 | The team is expert in their way, you are expert in your way

To coach a team effectively, you need to understand and maintain focus on:

  • The team’s value flow
  • Typical bottlenecks
  • Impediments to high quality

The rest is simply nice to have. Understanding flow, bottlenecks, and quality will allow you to quickly grasp what holds the team back and how they achieve success. This will also help you relate to your team’s emotional dynamics, including what makes them personally frustrated or fulfilled. Empathy will break through differences in experience levels and foster lasting relationships.

If you’re still skeptical, think of it this way; the product owner is backlog and content authority for the team. They still do backlog refinement with the team. Why? Because team members are the experts! That’s their thing. That’s why they were hired.

A scrum master isn’t an expert in the same areas. That’s not their job. Their job is coaching and enhancing the PDCA cycle, customer centricity, flow, dependency visualization, bottleneck identification and removal, conflict management, and listening.

2 | Build initial trust levels with authenticity

The not-so-secret ingredient in serving any team is trust. If you share technical expertise with your teammates, building initial trust may be easier. Teammates will know that you understand their impediments and have insight into root causes because you may have experienced them before. Your coaching may be well received because “you know what you’re talking about,” and teammates can immediately talk shop with you.

There may be some initial distrust if you don’t share technical knowledge with your teammates and they don’t understand how you contribute. If this situation sounds familiar, it’s best to start with openness about your background and willingness to learn. Emphasize that you’re not a technical expert but you do fill many other roles that help them work better, including:

  • Servant leader
  • Live-in consultant
  • Advisor
  • Team protector

Your expertise starts with process, method, and people.

Trust is particularly key when your work environment prioritizes honesty, candid feedback, and personal responsibility. Technical competency is a must for most roles, but emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills are vital for helping teams and individuals thrive. Organizations using SAFe should create ample space for digging into messy issues, feedback, processes, and team performance. Scrum masters can build trust in these complex emotional environments in several critical ways: 

  • Help everyone approach discussions in good faith
  • Create a safe environment for all feedback
  • Find and equip team members with the right tools and methods to provide feedback
  • Encourage participation by all; not only the loudest or most persistent voices
  • Communicate feedback clearly to others, demonstrating advocacy for the team

3 | Promote self-organizing teams

A scrum master’s best tools are powerful questions and intentional listening. If you share deep technical expertise with your teammates, you may have a bias when determining problems and solutions.

You might make more assumptions and be more suggestive because you have so much familiarity with the team’s work. Scrum masters without technical experience have the benefit of an outsider’s perspective and have no choice but to truly listen, clarify, and guide the team to their own solutions.

Setting scrum master improvement areas

It’s helpful to build trust and develop personal relationships. But you’ll need concrete growth goals to gain competency and confidence.

The list of scrum master improvement areas below will give you a big head start in owning your role:

SAFe® scrum master

Identify the team’s value stream(s). The team might already have a value stream visualization. Maybe the product owner knows it well. Or maybe there’s a great opportunity for the team to work on identification. This will help both you and your team understand how work flows and the most essential tools and processes the team uses. You’ll likely find areas for immediate improvement!

Ask obvious questions. Though it might feel like you’re slowing the team down, asking foundational questions is actually beneficial for everyone. Here are just a few obvious benefits:

  • You need to learn more about team content
  • The teammate receiving the question needs to think about the purpose and processes behind their work
  • Other team members who aren’t involved in that work may have the same question 

Schedule one-on-one meetings. Learn team member’s professional goals and interests. Ask about their pain points, what keeps them up at night, dynamics within the team, dynamics with other teams, etc. Build empathy to help smooth over inevitable future difficulties. Also, if your teammate is comfortable with it, you can ask to shadow their work while they narrate and complete day-to-day tasks. 

Always have a Google tab open. Answers to technical questions are often difficult to grasp. You can’t expect to know everything your team does. Instead of scheduling an hour lecture with a teammate every time curiosity strikes, try checking internal directories, knowledge wikis, and even Google to find a quick answer. Continuous learning is imperative.

Use an assessment to measure your progress. The AgilityHealth Scrum Master Radar Assessment (or a similar tool) can help you understand your current performance and identify areas for improvement. 

Learn more about the team’s work. This shouldn’t necessarily be your first priority, but it’s definitely worth your time. Common examples include joining a lunch book club, attending a conference, creating content that requires you to learn new material, and reading technical articles. You’ll deepen your knowledge and show that you truly care about the team’s work.

Hone your craft. Consistently prioritizing professional development will demonstrate your growing expertise to the team. Whether you’re trying new approaches to retrospectives or diligently protecting and coaching team members, your efforts will earn trust.

If you’re still unsure about exactly where to spend your time, the graphic below breaks down how real scrum masters (in our company) spend a typical week. You can use this tool as a gut check for balancing priorities, assessing your time management skills, and planning for a productive iteration.

SAFe® scrum master

More Resources for You, Scrum Masters!

Even with prior scrum master work experience, serving a team with technical expertise that you don’t have can feel daunting. But a skilled scrum master can quickly bring significant value. By clarifying how you serve the team, building trust, and continuously learning, you and your teammates can work together to build a self-organizing, high-performing team.

Here are some additional resources to help you learn more about how scrum masters of all experience levels can continue improving and serving well:

About Emma Ropski

Emma is a Certified SPC and scrum master at Scaled Agile

Emma is a Certified SPC and scrum master at Scaled Agile, Inc. As a lifelong learner and teacher, she loves to illustrate, clarify, and simplify to keep all teammates and SAFe learners engaged. Connect with Emma on LinkedIn.

View all posts by Emma Ropski

Facilitation Tips to Excel at the RTE Role – Agility Planning

Release Train Engineer

I spend most of my time in the Release Train Engineer (RTE) role facilitating groups from all levels of the organization.

When I facilitate poorly, people notice, and the Agile Release Train (ART) struggles to align on objectives and mitigate risks.

When I facilitate well, meetings blend into daily work, and the ART runs smoothly.

In this blog post, I focus on facilitation tips and tools that have worked for me in agility planning with three ceremonies that RTEs facilitate:

  • PI Planning
  • Scrum of Scrums (SoS)
  • System Demo

Let’s take a look at how I prepare for and facilitate each.

Release Train Engineer

Prepare for the RTE Role in PI Planning

PI Planning is the most important event the RTE role facilitates. A well-run PI Planning aligns the ART to:

  • strategy
  • business context
  • priorities

It creates the space for tough conversations about dependencies and tradeoffs. Teams have the autonomy to plan to achieve the desired value delivery within their capacity.

How to prepare for a successful PI Planning

It’s helpful for me to think about PI Planning preparation in the following sections.


This includes the tools and tips I use to stay organized before and during PI Planning.

Book calendars in advance

If you want 125 people available at the same time in the same location, you need to get dates on the calendar a year ahead of PI Planning. When I have not met this criterion, key stakeholders miss the event due to scheduling conflicts.

ART Readiness Workbook

We use an updated version of the readiness checklist in the ART Readiness Workbook. The SAFe® PI Planning Toolkit on the SAFe Community Platform includes this checklist.

It includes everything we need to prepare our teams and ARTs for PI Planning, from the program backlog to video call links. We’ve started calling it “the dream” because it keeps us so organized that the event runs like a dream.


This is how I think about the information I want to convey during PI Planning.

Business context

Work with leaders to prepare a strong business context presentation. As a facilitator, it’s my job to ensure the connection from strategy to execution is clear. That connection starts with the business context.

As an RTE, I work with our leaders to paint the picture of:

  • Our progress so far
  • Our priorities moving forward
  • What we want to do with those priorities
  • Why it matters

A motivating message will resonate with people and set the tone for the event.

Note: Leaders can be your GM for the business unit or CEO for smaller organizations.

Product strategy

The product strategy connects the business context to the prioritized backlog. It shows the research, customer feedback, and PI roadmap that will achieve our strategic themes.

This means RTEs work with the head of product to create a presentation that encourages engagement with the content. It should also include plenty of time for Q&A.

I know I’m successful when, in the Q&A, team members make clear connections between the product strategy and top features in the program backlog.

Prioritized program backlog

Our product team prepares early for the upcoming PI by:

  • Understanding customer needs and desired outcomes
  • Defining, sizing, and prioritizing features

This process gives teams plenty of time to understand priorities. It also helps them understand how to do the work and which features to pull first. If I have done a good job of facilitating through the business context and product strategy, the teams will have confidence in the backlog. They’ll also understand how to engage with it to achieve the most value in the PI.


How you set up impacts how your teams engage and where they focus during planning.


Release Train Engineer

We use the Virtual PI Planning Collaborate template for virtual PI planning. This template allows us to set up all the things we would have on the walls if we were in person in one easy-to-use online location. It cuts down on logistical questions during PI Planning and allows people to focus on their tasks.


We spend a lot of time thinking about tables, breakout rooms, and supplies:

  • Does all the in-room tech work?
  • Are there clear instructions for how to use it in the room?
  • Are there snacks and fidget toys on the table for idle hands?
  • Plenty of sticky notes in different colors with pens and markers?

The less time people spend looking for supplies or troubleshooting tech, the more engaged and focused they will be.

Snacks and fun

Whether in person or virtual, planning for snacks and fun is crucial. We send out a theme for planning in advance. We also provide engagement ideas like:

  • costumes
  • virtual backgrounds
  • table decorations

In-person, we plan for snacks and catering; virtually, we send meal kits or snack boxes to people’s homes. Themes bring fun and create camaraderie and empathy that make difficult conversations easier. Snacks keep people focused and stave off the hangry moments.

How to facilitate a successful PI Planning

No matter how well you prepare and set up, facilitation will be tricky, and there will be many twists and turns. Here are my top tips for facilitating successful PI Planning.

Use a detailed facilitator’s agenda

We write a script and annotate every transition, timebox, and tool used. As a facilitator, I plan out:

  • How long to give each team for read-out, Q&A, and transition to the next team
  • Who will present on which screen and from where, and so on

Scripting this prevents worry in the moment and allows us to focus on active facilitation.

Know your end goal so you can pivot

These down-to-the-minute agendas will go off the rails at some point. It may be because a meaningful conversation runs past the timebox. Or we need to discuss a risk or de-scoping in real-time. With a detailed facilitator’s plan, we can adjust in the moment and still achieve our goal.

Embrace crucial conversations

PI Planning includes difficult trade-offs, scoping conversations, and cross-team dependencies and risks. Emotions are high, and the content is high stakes. We must model and facilitate embracing these conversations in productive ways. As a facilitator, I ensure these conversations are happening by coaching people through them.

When people come to me with problems and risks they want me to solve, it is often something they can solve themselves with a crucial conversation. I coach them to use:

  • “I” statements
  • Clear, transparent communication

The pain caused by avoidance or indirect communication is always worth this time and effort. For more detailed PI Planning facilitation guides and templates, check out the SAFe PI Planning toolkit. Find it on the PI Planning SAFe Community Platform page.

Release Train Engineer

Prepare for the RTE Role in Scrum of Scrums

After PI Planning, it’s essential to manage dependencies in a clear and consistent way. The RTE role helps create clear visibility on impediments to and progress toward our objectives.

For the ART, Scrum of Scrums (SoS) acts like a train-level stand-up. As an RTE, preparing well for SoS ensures we get the right outcomes. Facilitating well ensures it does not become a status meeting.

How to prepare for a successful SoS

Here are my tips and tricks for preparing a successful SoS in the RTE role.

Agenda and purpose

It’s important to provide a clear and visible agenda and purpose for SoS. This enables all the teams in the ART to prepare and show up with the right information to work dependencies and remove impediments.

Visuals to help review dependencies and progress toward objectives

We use the program board we built in SAFe Collaborate at PI Planning during SoS. We also use an iteration-by-iteration cross-team dependency board in our ALM tool.

Knowing we will use these in advance gives a clear place for everyone to prepare for the event. It also creates a visible place for dependencies and risks.

Representation from every team

Schedules can make it hard for every Scrum Master or team representative to attend SoS, but it must be a priority.

When Scrum Masters don’t represent their teams at SoS, questions go unanswered, and dependencies are harder to manage or make visible.

How to facilitate a successful SoS

Once I’ve prepared for SoS, here’s how I facilitate smoothly in the RTE role.

Pre-fill items in shared notes so you can spend time discussing risks, dependencies, and releases

A single, visible place for all SoS notes allows teams to add updates before the meeting. It allows others to review and show up to SoS ready to ask questions or share related information.

Ask questions that go beyond status updates to uncover dependencies

Ask clarifying questions about the work and related data in the ALM tool. Asking for visuals or links to related documents ensures everyone understands.

Mix up your questions each time. This prevents automatic responses and encourages thinking about the work from new angles.

Invite guests and people new to the company

This orients new people to your organization to your process for managing dependencies and risks. It also shows them where to find the information they may need about other teams’ work.

Check out the SoS Facilitator’s guide on the ART Events page of the SAFe Community Platform to improve your SoS facilitation.

Release Train Engineer

Prepare for the RTE Role in System Demo

The System Demo is the flashiest of ceremonies the RTE role facilitates. It’s when the teams get to show off the work they’ve completed during the iteration (or PI if it’s the PI system demo).

How to prepare for a successful system demo

Because System Demo is about showing off the work of the ARTs, it’s important that I prepare them for a smooth experience.

Prepare presenters in advance

I provide a timebox and share my agenda deck two days before the demo. Participants to leave a “live demo” slide if they plan to share their screens during the event.

Then I meet with speakers half an hour before the demo. We test the timing of presentations, handoffs, and technology. This ensures a smooth delivery.

Create a reusable template

Using a template that follows the same pattern makes it easy to prepare topics. The topics I select show the progress toward our objectives and strategic themes.

A familiar template and standard format will make preparations easy and calm the nerves of those not used to presenting.

Build in time for Q&A and space for the conversation to continue past the timebox

While the demo of the end-to-end solution is critical, it is as important that stakeholders have the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.

We often only have time for a few questions, so we create a thread in our company messaging app for more questions and discussions.

How to facilitate a successful system demo

Once I prepare everyone, facilitating a successful system demo is pretty straightforward. Here are a few essential tips.

Open the meeting with purpose and expectations

I always take the first few minutes of the system demo to remind everyone why we are there. I also remind them of their role in ensuring we meet the purpose:

  • Paying close attention
  • Asking questions
  • Giving feedback
  • Looking for ways what they saw affects or improves their work

Connect demo topics to objectives and strategic themes

I structure the agenda by grouping demos by strategic theme. As part of the agenda overview, I discuss each theme and how each demo will connect to the theme and the team’s objective.

Embrace silence

The group often hesitates to speak up when there are over 100 people on a call or in a room, including key stakeholders and customers.

As a facilitator, I open the floor to questions and feedback. Or I ask questions and then count to 10 in my head. This can feel like an eternity of silence that you want to fill. But nine times out of ten, right toward the end of the silence, someone will come forward with a question. If you don’t allow for silence, you will lose much of that engagement.

Looking for more tips and tricks? Check out:

Conclusion and Additional Resources

The RTE role of preparing for and facilitating ART-level events impacts the ART’s ability to:

  • Connect strategy to execution
  • Manage risks and dependencies
  • Understand the end-to-end value delivered during the PI

Preparing ourselves and others in advance removes in-the-moment confusion. It also increases understanding and transparency.

We create space to pivot and shift in the moment while achieving desired outcomes.

Coaching and modeling crucial conversations means more productive team engagement and outcomes.

I hope this blog post has inspired you to explore new ways to approach facilitating your events. To help you on your journey:

About Lieschen Gargano Quilling

Lieschen Gargano is a Release Train Engineer

Lieschen Gargano is a Release Train Engineer and conflict guru – thanks in part to her master’s degree in conflict resolution. As the RTE for the development value stream at Scaled Agile, Lieschen loves cultivating new ideas and approaches to Agile to keep things fresh and engaging. She also has a passion for developing practices for happy teams of teams across the full business value stream.

View all posts by Lieschen Gargano Quilling

How to Measure Team Performance: A Scrum Master Q+A

Assessing your team’s agility is an important step on the path to continuous improvement. After all, you can’t get where you want to go if you don’t know where you are. But you probably have questions: How do you measure a team’s agility, anyway? Who should do it, and when? What happens with the data you collect, and what should you do afterwards?

To bring you the answers, we interviewed two of our experienced scrum masters, Lieschen Gargano and Sam Ervin. Keep reading to learn their recommendations for running a Team successfully and Technical Agility Assessment.

Q: How does SAFe help teams measure their agility, and why should I care? 

Measure and Grow is the Scaled Agile Framework’s approach to evaluating agility and determining what actions to take next. Measure and Grow assessment tools and recommendation actions help organizations and teams reflect on where they are and know how to improve. 

The SAFe® Business Agility Assessment measures an organization’s overall agility across seven core competencies: team and technical agility, agile product delivery, enterprise solution delivery, Lean portfolio management, Lean-agile leadership, organizational agility, and continuous learning culture. 

business agility assessment

The SAFe Core Competency Assessments measure each of these core competencies on a deeper level. For example, the Team and Technical Agility (TTA) Core Competency Assessment helps teams identify areas for improvement, highlight strengths worth celebrating, and baseline performance against future growth. It asks questions about how your team operates. Do team members have cross-functional skills? Do you have a dedicated PO? How are teams of teams organized in your agile release trains (ARTs)? Do you use technical practices like test-driven development and peer review? How does your team tackle technical debt?

For facilitators, including scrum masters, the Team and Technical Agility Assessment is a great way to create space for team reflection beyond a typical retrospective. It can also increase engagement and buy-in for the team to take on actionable improvement items.

Q: Who should run a Team and Technical Agility Assessment? 

Running assessments can be tricky. Teams might feel defensive about being “measured.” Self-reported data isn’t always objective or accurate. Emotions and framing can impact the results. That’s why SAFe recommends that a scrum master or other trained facilitator run the assessment. A scrum master, SPC, or agile coach can help ensure that teams understand their performance and know where to focus their improvement efforts. 

Q: When should I do this assessment?

It’s never too early or too late to know where you stand. Running the assessment for your team when you’re first getting started with an agile transformation will help you target the areas where you most need to improve, but you can assess team performance at any time. 

As for how frequently you should run it … it’s probably more valuable to do it on a cadence—either once a PI or once a year, depending on the team’s goals and appetite for it. There’s a lot of energy in seeing how you grow and progress as a team, and it’s easier to celebrate wins that are demonstrated through documented change over time than through general sentiment.

Q: Okay, how do I prepare for and run it?

The agility assessment tools are available free to SAFe members and customers at the Measure and Grow page on the SAFe Community Platform. There you can choose from tools created for us by our partners, AgilityHealth and Comparative Agility.

Before you start the Team and Technical Agility Assessment, define your team’s shared purpose. This will help you generate buy-in and excitement. If the team feels like they’re just doing the assessment because the scrum master said so, it won’t be successful. They have to see value in it for them, both as individuals and as a team. 

Some questions we like to ask to set this purpose include, “What do we want it to feel like to be part of this team, two PIs from now?” And, “How will our work lives be improved when we check in one year from now?”

There are two ways you can approach running this assessment. Option #1 is to have team members take the assessment individually, and then get together to discuss their results as a group. Option #2 is to discuss the assessment questions together and come to a consensus on the group’s answers.

When we’ve run this assessment we’ve had team members do it individually, so we could focus our time together on review and actions. If you do decide to run it asynchronously it’s important as a facilitator to be available to team members, in case they have questions before you review your answers as a team.

Q: What else should I keep in mind?

We like to kick off the assessment with a meeting invitation that includes a draft agenda. Sending this ahead of time gives everyone a chance to prepare. You can keep the agenda loose so you have flexibility to spend more or less time discussing particular areas, depending on how your team chooses to engage with each question.

Q: Is the assessment anonymous? 

Keeping the answers anonymous is really helpful if you want to get more accurate results. We like to be very clear upfront that the assessment will be anonymous, so that team members can feel confident about being honest in their answers. 

For example, with our teams, we not only explained the confidentiality of individuals’ answers but demonstrated in real-time how the tool itself works so that the process would feel open and transparent. We also made it clear that we would not be using the data to compare teams to each other, or for any purpose other than to gain a shared understanding of where we are selecting improvement items based on the team’s stated goals.

Q: Then what? What do I do with the results?

Once you’ve completed the assessment using one of the two approaches, you’ll want to review the sections one by one, showing the aggregate results and allowing the team to notice their top strengths and top areas for improvement. Your job as facilitator is NOT to tell them what you think based on the results; it’s to help guide the team’s own discussion as they explore the answers. This yields much more effective outcomes!

One thing one of us learned in doing the assessment was how much we disagreed on some things. For example, even with a statement as simple as, “Teams execute standard iteration events,” some team members scored us a five (out of five) while others scored us a one. We treated every score as valid and sought to understand why some team members scored high and others low, just like we do when estimating the size of a user story. During this conversation, we learned an important fact. The product owner thought the iteration was executed in a standard way because she was the one executing it. But team members gave that statement a low score because they weren’t included in much of the decision-making. There was no consensus understanding for what “standard iteration events” meant to the team. 

This prompted a conversation about why the team isn’t always included in how the iteration was executed. We talked about the challenge of aligning schedules to share responsibility for decision-making in meetings. And we talked about the impact of team members not having the opportunity to contribute. 

As a result, the assessment did more than help us see where we needed to improve; it showed us where we had completely different perspectives about how we were doing. It prompted rich conversations that led to meaningful progress.

Q: Okay, I ran the assessment; now what? What are the next steps?

With your assessment results in hand, it’s now time to take actions that help you improve. For each dimension of the Team and Technical Agility Assessment, SAFe provides growth recommendations to help teams focus on the areas that matter most and prioritize their next steps. You should: 

  • Review the team growth recommendations together to generate ideas
  • Select your preferred actions (you can use dot voting or WSJF calculations for this; SAFe® Collaborate has ready-made templates you can use)
  • Capture your team’s next steps in writing: “Our team decided to do X, Y, and Z.” 
  • Follow through on your actions, so that you’re connecting them to the desired outcome
  • Check in on your progress at the beginning of iteration retrospectives

Finally, you’ll want to use these actions to set a focus for the team throughout the PI, and check in with business owners at PI planning on how these improvements have helped the organization make progress toward its goals.

Q: I’m ready! How do I get started? 

Fantastic. Just visit the Measure and Grow page at the SAFe Community Platform to choose your assessment tool. While you’re there, you can watch the video for tips or download the Measure and Grow Toolkit for play-by-play guidance. As you’re running the assessment, use the SAFe Collaborate templates to guide the discussion and identify actions and next steps. 

Have fun!

About the authors

Lieschen is a product owner and former scrum master at Scaled Agile.

Lieschen is a product owner and former scrum master at Scaled Agile. She’s also an agile coach and conflict guru—thanks in part to her master’s degree in conflict resolution. Lieschen loves cultivating new ideas and approaches to agile to keep things fresh and exciting. And she’s passionate about developing best practices for happy teams to deliver value in both development and non-technical environments. Fun fact? “I’m the only person I know of who’s been a scrum master and a scrum-half on a rugby team.”

Sam is a certified SAFe® 5.0 Program Consultant (SPC) and serves as the scrum master for several teams at Scaled Agile. His recent career highlights include entertaining the crowd as the co-host of the 2019 and 2020 Global SAFe® Summits. A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Sam lives in Denver, CO, where he enjoys CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting.


Back to: All Blog Posts

Next: The Unparalleled Value of Emotional Intelligence, Part Two

To Accelerate Impact, Measure Team Performance and Cohesion

This post is part of an ongoing blog series where Scaled Agile Partners share stories from the field about using Measure and Grow assessments with customers to evaluate progress and identify improvement opportunities.

As organizations move from team-level agile to enterprise agility, predictive analytics and statistical insights play an increasingly important role in improving how organizations operate. Gartner predicts that this year, AI will create 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity globally, resulting in $2.9 trillion of business value. The rationale for this increased focus on data-driven insights is clear: while business environments continue to grow more complex and uncertain, the need for fast decision-making and agility has never been greater. 

By identifying potential problems before they become organizational challenges and applying proprietary algorithms to large amounts of data, we can identify patterns and direct organizational attention where it matters. But the insights must be shared in a way that helps change leaders improve their decision-making. 

To make complex statistical analysis useful, it should be presented in a way that inspires action.

The Impact Matrix: Measuring performance and cohesion

This challenge is the motivation behind the Impact Matrix, a canvas that immediately identifies how teams are doing based on two essential vectors of team potency: performance and cohesion. Getting an understanding of teams helps change leaders quickly recognize challenges, prioritize efforts, and develop improvements.

Let’s take a closer look at a sample Impact Matrix report and explore how it can accelerate an organization’s transformation efforts.

The Impact Matrix

As illustrated in this example, the teams (represented as dots) in an organization’s portfolio are positioned on the canvas based on their relative score across two vectors; performance and cohesion.

Depending on a respective team’s score and relative position, we can quickly identify a theme of focus, categorize a strategic approach, and pinpoint essential questions that leaders should consider when deciding next steps. 

Amplify: High performance, high cohesion (green zone)

Teams in the Amplify quadrant are performing at a relatively high level and there are no major disconnects between the team members. Organizations benefit from observing these teams, understanding what makes them perform consistently, and trying to amplify these norms across the broader organization. Some helpful questions to ask include, “To what degree is the environment enabling teams to perform at this level?” “What role does management play in empowering these teams to do so well?” and, “How can coaching help these teams sustain—and even exceed—their current levels?”

Align: High performance, low cohesion (yellow zone)

When teams are in the Align quadrant they are performing well, but there are significant disagreements and disconnects between team members. Organizations benefit from keeping a close eye on teams in this quadrant, as a lack of team cohesion is a leading indicator of deteriorating performance. Questions to consider for teams in this context include, “Are certain team members dominating conversations?” “Is there sufficient psychological safety so all team members can feel comfortable speaking up?” and, “Is there a clear purpose that team members can rally around?”

Mitigate: Low performance, low cohesion (red zone)

Teams in the Mitigate quadrant are indicating they need help: they’re not only performing poorly, but they’re also disconnected. Organizations benefit from listening to and engaging with these teams to help alleviate their challenges. Questions that may be helpful in this context include, “What are immediate actions we can take to ease the current situation?” “How can we better understand why the team feels challenged?” and “How can the organization give the team a safe environment to work out challenges?”

Improve: Low performance, high cohesion (yellow zone)

Teams in the Improve quadrant usually don’t remain there for long. These teams are performing relatively poorly, but they’re aware of their challenges—and typically, they take steps to improve their situation. Organizations benefit by helping these teams accelerate their improvement efforts and providing them with the necessary resources. Questions these teams should ask include, “What steps can the team take to start alleviating current challenges?” “How can the organization help?” and, “What insights do the data give us about where to start?”


By leveraging data and sophisticated analytics, the Impact Matrix helps change leaders accelerate their transformation efforts by focusing their work where it matters, pointing them in the right direction, and ultimately supercharging their ability to lead organizational change. Although data and meaningful analytics are insufficient to give you all the answers you need, they can help you ask better questions and complement your overall transformation strategy.

Do it yourself: Run the Impact Matrix on your release train or portfolio today to get a comprehensive picture of how teams are performing, and find out immediately where you can provide the most value to your organization. Activate your free Comparative Agility account on the SAFe Community Platform.

Matthew Haubrich is the Director of Data Science at Comparative Agility.

Matthew Haubrich is the Director of Data Science at Comparative Agility. Passionate about discovering the story behind the data, Matt has more than 25 years of experience in data analytics, survey research, and assessment design. Matt is a frequent speaker at numerous national and international conferences and brings a broad perspective of analytics from both public and private sectors.


Back to: All Blog Posts

Next: How 90 Teams Used Measure and Grow to Improve Performance by 134 Percent