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With an objective to enable continuous learning and progression for our learners, PremierAgile curated several learning articles. Out of a wide range of topics, you can choose to learn from the real-world experiences by practitioners in the areas of Agile, Scrum, Product Ownership, Scaling, Agile Leadership, Tools & Frameworks, latest market trends, new innovations etc.

What Does SAFe Scrum Master Do?

When it comes to a SAFe enterprise, it should be said that a Scrum Master is not a Scrum Master alone. Yes, the Scaled Agile Framework explains that a Scrum Master is a servant-leader for an Agile Team. Apart from educating the Agile team on different methods and frameworks that encompass Extreme Programming, Kanban, Scrum and SAFe, Scrum Masters also make sure that the Agile process agreed upon is duly followed. In simple terms, a Scrum Master in a SAFe environment should have more tools in his/her toolkit apart from Scrum. 

SAFe is a framework for scaling the Agile practices of a team up to the enterprise level. However, SAFe framework will have to handle other layers of higher levels like Full SAFe, Large Solution SAFe and Essential SAFe. These varied configurations can be used based on the requirement of the organization. The Scrum model is made in such a way that it can meet the needs of environments of all complexities and sizes. Therefore, SAFe Scrum Masters also play a crucial role in serving in varied layers of the organization. They will have to work with an extended Scrum Master Community that includes Solution Train Engineers and Release Train Engineers for increasing the effectiveness of SAFe across the enterprise.

The Scaled Agile Framework adopts Agile and Lean Principles, thereby making them visible to all. In turn, a SAFe Scrum Master will have to take up the principles when working in a SAFe atmosphere. They are responsible for enabling the Agile team in an organization to adopt SAFe practice. Also, these professionals learn a wide range of Lean tools and techniques for improving the flow of value in Agile teams.

Scrum Masters According to SAFe:

According to SAFe, Scrum Masters are servant leaders and also coaches for Agile Teams. Apart from educating the teams on different technical practices, they help with getting rid of obstacles and cultivate an atmosphere for high-performing team dynamics, ongoing improvement and continuous flow.

SAFe further adds that the role of a Scrum Master is taken by a team member, who is basically responsible for assisting teams to achieve their goals via self-management and self-organization. They do this by coaching team practices and supporting and implementing SAFe practices and principles. They also play a role in facilitating the flow and getting rid of obstacles. Even, they work together with the extended community of Scrum Masters. They do this to make sure that the efficiency of SAFe across the enterprise will increase.

How is SAFe Scrum Master Different from other Scrum Masters?

When you take the case of a SAFe organization, the teams that work at the development level follow frameworks or techniques that go in line with the goals of the organization. The teams have the option to adopt any technique like XP, Kanban or Scrum or even any other framework that suits the best for their needs. In case a team follows another method, a SAFe Scrum Master is not responsible for working on the Scrum implementation.

Nevertheless, at the time of SAFe Scrum implementation, the Scrum Master will have to follow Scrum Practices and should expand them all through the different teams in the organization. Apart from supporting the Developers, a SAFe Scrum Master will also have to help with running SAFe activities. He/she is responsible for getting involved in ongoing improvement at all levels of the organization and ensures timely delivery of the Developers by doing risk mitigation and removing obstacles. In short in a SAFe organization, the role of a Scrum Master also scales up.

When talking about Scrum Master responsibilities SAFe, you might be interested in understanding how is SAFe Scrum Master different from Scrum Master. Here are a few key differences:

  • For Scaling SAFe or for any scaling for that matter, Scrum acts as the foundation. So, the SAFe Scrum Master should be aware of the Scrum practices.
  • When you take the case of a SAFe Scrum Master, their focus will not be basically on aiding teams to create higher value. But, the focus will be more on bringing an improvement in performance in the areas of speed, flow, predictability and quality. You might think it to be a minor difference. Nevertheless, a team can carry higher velocity, better flow, predictability and more quality and can overlook bringing more value.
  • When talking about the key SAFe Scrum Master roles and responsibilities, they are responsible for making sure that the team do not get out of the way of Agile processes agreed upon. When you take the case of a Scrum Master, he/she will be responsible for supporting the team to use Scrum. Here, the difference between these two roles is that the former makes sure that the team follows SAFe practices but the latter supports the team in following the Scrum practices.
  • The primary attention of a SAFe Scrum Master is on the team and does not have any or a very negligible role in the adoption of Scrum at the organizational level. There is a more crucial role in aiding with the adoption of SAFe at the organizational level. In the same way, a Scrum Master supports the Scrum adoption at team levels.
  • When the organization or the employer chooses to do so, the SAFe Scrum Master can move away from Scrum. But, the role of Scrum Master is to support the Framework of Scrum as stated in the Scrum Guide.

Let’s take a look at the roles and responsibilities of a SAFe Scrum Master in a SAFe organization:

Roles and Responsibilities of Scrum Master in SAFe:

A SAFe Scrum Master functions as a member of an Agile Team. Their main role is to bring up a productive and effective work atmosphere. Also, they are responsible for guiding others in the organization to understand not only SAFe but also Scrum Values, practices and principles. They are responsible for boosting the performance and productivity of teams by getting rid of hindrances in the way forward. Here is the list of key SAFe Scrum Master responsibilities:

  • The SAFe Scrum Master is responsible for providing support to estimation. They should guide the team on how to estimate capabilities and features
  • They are responsible for facilitating readiness and preparation for Agile Release Train Events. They guides the teams with the preparation for ART activities like Inspect and Adapt, System Demos and PI Planning
  • A SAFe Scrum Master also enables the effectiveness of the organization. They will work with stakeholders and other Scrum Masters in the organization to aid the team with the contribution towards enhancing the overall development value stream
  • Further, a SAFe Scrum Master supports SAFe Adoption. They will do this by coaching not only Stakeholders but also other non-Agile teams on effective communication with Agile Teams
  • A SAFe Scrum Master is responsible for coordinating with other teams and  supports the efforts of teams in the organization to improve communication and relationships with other teams continuously. They are responsible for regularly representing the team in the Scrum of Scrum. By doing this, they will help the team to stay aware of the chances to improve and engage program effectiveness. Scrum Masters in an organization are generally responsible for helping teams to build effective relationships with shared services, architecture, user experience and System Team. But, the responsibility of effective inter-team communication does not vest with Scrum Masters entirely. Every team member should be held responsible for this communication.
  • One of the key SAFe Scrum Master roles and responsibilities is to help coordinate inter-team cooperation. They aids teams to work efficiently on the Agile Release Trains.
  • They are responsible for paying attention to ever-improving team performance and dynamics and trains the team in self-management. Aids the teams with the resolution of interpersonal challenges and conflicts besides spotting opportunities for growth. They takes the issues faced by people to the management where appropriate actions are to be taken only after finding that the issue resolution was not possible with internal team processes. 
  • In general, the Scaled Agile Framework guides the teams by constantly improving the quality of deliverables. Here, the role of a Scrum Master is to support the culture of technical craftsmanship and discipline that stand as a trademark of effective Agile Teams.
  • Many blocking issues will be beyond the authority of teams. Otherwise, the teams may need support from other teams for handling these impediments. Here, the role of a Scrum Master is to support the teams in getting rid of these issues for improving the probability of achieving the goals of iteration.
  • Another key responsibility of a SAFe Scrum Master is to support the Product Owners in their effects towards effective management of backlogs.

Based on the nature of a business, a SAFe Scrum Master can be a full-time or part-time position. Scrum Masters will have to play a crucial role in the initial phases of SAFe adoption in an organization. But, once everything starts going fine, they should be there to guide and support when hindrances occur.

  1. https://www.scaledagileframework.com/scrum-master/
  2. https://medium.com/serious-scrum/safe-scrum-master-vs-scrum-scrum-master-deceptively-alike-but-totally-different-271707c443a6



Is a passionate learner and blogger on Agile, Scrum and Scaling areas. She has been following and practicing these areas for several years and now converting those experiences into useful articles for your continuous learning.