ArticleDecember 13, 2021 · 4 min read time
Nitor currently has three SPCT level trainers. Pasi Rupponen, who graduated in September 2021, talks about his experiences and explains why he wanted to participate in training that required a lot of perseverance and that famous Finnish sisu. What does a certified SPCT trainer mean for Nitor's SAFe offering?
The SAFe® Program Consultant Trainer certification is the highest level of SAFe certification. An SPCT-qualified trainer can conduct all levels of SAFe trainings, as well as coach trainers for these trainings. Achieving this requires several years of determined effort from the trainer, most often in addition to their own day job. They must have in-depth experience and understanding of scaled agility at all levels of the company's operations.
Pasi, you have been training and consulting on agile practices for a long time. What made you go for the SPCT training that you knew was very demanding?
I wanted to be able to better help my customers scale the agile business model to strategic capabilities across the enterprise. This was certainly the factor that pushed me to apply for the programme. Over the years, I have noticed that while an agile approach facilitates the operation of a single team, the greatest benefits are achieved when agility is present at all levels of the organisation. Through the SPCT process, I can better help my customers toward adaptability on a larger scale.
What are the main lessons learnt concerning your work?
Through my training, I have had a lot to do with the SAFe framework and have been able to see how the framework is constantly evolving according to the needs of the users. I was able to see how this development is strongly guided by a set of principles and values behind SAFe from the beginning. The people in charge of the framework are constantly monitoring the changes in the field and modifying the frame according to what works and what doesn't.
An example of this modification is the addition of the principle of organize around value to the ten SAFe principles. This was based on the fact that, based on experience and lessons learnt, the path to more holistic adaptability means that operational value flows need to be better understood and linked to the development portfolio. In that respect, the needed updates to the SAFe framework were implemented.
With the training itself, it has become very clear to me that SAFe is not just a framework for the sake of a frame, but a well-functioning way to scale an agile approach into a larger, organisation-wide culture. That made the overall agile approach's importance even more concrete. Now I feel that I can, for example, better help my customers in the different areas of change management: initiating, organising, and delivering change.
How was the training programme, and what are the requirements for passing it?
Already at the application stage, there are extensive requirements that must be met in order to apply to the programme. Many other courses can be accessed by paying a participation fee, but the SPCT course requires extensive experience in the field, for example, ten years of experience in agile coaching and holding at least six Leading SAFe courses. In addition, the trainers will evaluate what the applicant has done outside the SAFe framework. If the entry-level requirements are met, you are invited to an interview.
If the interview is successful, the SPCT training starts with Immersion Week in Boulder, Colorado. It is a quite hectic week as it includes various proficiency tests conducted both as group work and individually to measure coaching, training, and consulting skills. These are evaluated by your peers and the Scaled Agile representatives. After that week, you can start with the programme itself, which will take two years to complete.
Already during Immersion Week, I had many good experiences; the most valuable was undoubtedly the direct feedback from the developer of SAFe, Dean Leffingwell. In addition, during the week, we gained an understanding of the expected level of the programme and had the opportunity to meet other participants in our small group. Our team of ten participants consisted of really hard-working professionals from around the world.
The programme was a rewarding and uplifting experience that has deepened my skills tremendously. However, there are also challenges. Completing the training programme, especially here in the Nordics, is no easy task, as finding operating environments for assignments is quite challenging.
For example, we had to complete a certain number of implemented SAFe implementations in two years, the literature in the field will have to be extensively referenced, and six more Agile Release Train (ART) launches had to be performed as a more demanding assignment. The final part of the programme is pair training, which the participant implements together with their mentor. During the training, the mentor continuously evaluates your performance. The title of an SPCT-certified trainer can be obtained if the participants get a grade of at least 4/5 and the mentor approves the training.
How is the demanding offering reflected in Nitor’s offering and visible to our customers?
Naturally, the strong SAFe-knowhow at Nitor is strengthened further. We now have three SPCT-level trainers. That means that the trainers are even more familiar with SAFe and agile methods and can help with finding tools and to reflect on the customer’s own processes even better and with more depth. Increased expertise can be seen, for example, in how fast the trainer is able to identify pain points. The SPCT-training offered new insights into challenges in different organisations and company cultures.