Is SAFe Training/Certification useful for an aspiring Tech PM?

I am working as a PM for the past 6 months or so, and I have an opportunity to get a SAFe training/certification. My boss is SAFe certified, and she is willing to sponsor me for this. My current role is more like a business PM and my goal is to be a technical PM and become a PO in future. Is SAFe a good use of my time and the company’s money given my aspirations, or is there a better course for tech PMs? I used to be a dev, then worked in operations and briefly in strategy before becoming a PM. I think I am proficient in tech skills. My current company uses SAFe but I don’t plan to stay here for long.


What is a tech PM in your POV? I’ve come across different definitions: lately I see it used in the context of a PM who works closely with an engineering team, so basically a product owner.

I personally don’t like SAFe, so I’d rather recommend the CSPO certification.


@MarcoSilva, am not the OP, but aspiring PM, recent grad – what did you find to be the differences between SAFe and CSPO, and why did you prefer the latter?


@Pauline, SAFe appears to make the attempt to scale agile from a team level to organization level.

CSPO is just product owner certification on the team-level.

You can be an effective PO within SAFe by simply reading up on the additional planning activities that come with SAFe that surround the regular Scrum ceremonies. The Release Train Engineer (a role is SAFe) should help you get up to speed as well.

To me SAFe is just the response of a company to implement Scrum on a team-level but to avoid the change on the management level. It’s highly plan driven (program increment). Your focus is not to release early, get feedback and adapt. You rather lay out quarterly plans, execute against them, and maybe adapt for the next quarter. Teams are not able to work self-organized. There is a far-distant manager who tells them what to do and most of the times they fail to lay out how a single team fits into the larger picture.

SAFe is a way to keep all the program managers, planning activities and reporting structure in place just so you can pretend to be an agile company when in fact innovation ideas come from the VP, plans to accomplish those ideas are created by a PMO and the plans are executed by a Scrum team.

In the end it’s waterfall where 1 step of the process is executed incrementally.


@MarcoSilva, Yes, I keep asking my bosses how is this not waterfall and they either shrug or hail the challenges of big organization.


Thanks for elaborating! I just heard of SAFe during an interview for a gov tech position, so was curious (and interview Q&A was to short for detail)

I know now that the SAFe process change is really just window dressing and a lot is execution/people-in-charge dependent, but you observe that the orgs that practice SAFe fall into just as many or fewer pitfalls than waterfall orgs?


@Pauline, Well they deliver projects either on time xor budget now as opposed to waterfall. However, they less likely will deliver products that users actually want and care for.

You are right, it depends on the people in charge. I just haven’t seen it implemented in a way that allows for quick feedback cycles.


Good question, and I think I am aligned with your definition of tech PM. From my POV, a tech PM is one who is also involved in the algorithm design of features. In my current role, I prioritize features but don’t provide much input in the implementation logic (I guess the former dev in me misses that part). It can be how my company divides PM and engineering work, it could also be because of my relative inexperience, idk. But influencing both customers and engineers would be my sweet spot as a tech PM.


I’ve been through CSPO and SAFe. CSPO gets you working with a few scrum teams, SAFe provides a framework to scale Agile in bigger organisations.

  • How complicated is your product portfolio?
  • How many scrum team do you interact with?
  • How many scrum teams does your team interact with?
  • How do you handle cross-team dependencies?

@Nathan, This is helpful, thanks! My current organization is big and uses SAFe, but I’m looking at a long term value irrespective of organization.


SAFe Agilist Certification value is in the demand of a universally accepted mechanism sought by individuals, partners, and companies. The value is also in the fact that it employs role-playing and training with practical applications. However, the essential SAFe Agilist Certification value is that it teaches people to think and plan processes without relying too much on bookish knowledge.

The main goal of the SAFe training is to get one ready with the required information to lead a Lean-Agile transformation at an enterprise scale. One will be able to get a high-level overview of the SAFe framework with exercises to test the ability.

Employers understand the SAFe Agilist Certification Value in applicants to perform growth-leading changes through the following tasks:

  • Enforcing Lean-Agile transformation for quick delivery of results to the customer
  • Developing and preparing future leaders with the right mindset
  • Reducing constraints
  • Creating a relevant decision-making framework
  • Encouraging skilled employees to put forward innovative ideas.

Hope this helps

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