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Comparing SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) and SAFe Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) Programs

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) offers two distinct levels of certification for Scrum Masters: the SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) and the SAFe Advanced Scrum Master (SASM). Both certifications are designed to validate skills and knowledge in the SAFe environment, but they cater to different levels of experience and expertise.

SAFe Scrum Master (SSM)

Objective and Audience: The SSM certification is aimed at individuals new to the Scrum Master role within a SAFe enterprise context. It is ideal for those looking to understand how to facilitate team and ART (Agile Release Train) level events for successful Agile execution within the SAFe framework.

Content Outline:

  • Introducing Scrum in SAFe: Covers basic Agile development concepts, Scrum basics, and identifying an Agile Team in SAFe.
  • Characterizing the Role of the Scrum Master: Focuses on defining the Scrum Master role, characteristics of high-performing teams, and coaching techniques.
  • Experiencing PI Planning: Involves participation in simulated PI Planning events and creation of draft PI plans.
  • Facilitating Iteration Execution: Includes planning iterations, facilitating team syncs, tracking iteration progress, and facilitating iteration reviews.
  • Finishing the PI: Discusses coaching the IP Iteration and preparing the team for the Inspect & Adapt event.

Exam Details:

  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Number of Questions: 45
  • Passing Score: 73%
  • Delivery: Web-based
  • Cost: First attempt included in course registration if taken within 30 days of completion

SAFe Advanced Scrum Master (SASM)

Objective and Audience: The SASM certification is designed for existing SAFe Scrum Masters responsible for team and ART execution. It focuses on scalable engineering, DevOps practices, and facilitating cross-team interactions in an enterprise environment.

Content Outline:

  • Exploring the Scrum Master Role in SAFe: Defines challenges of the Scrum Master in enterprises and connects the role to SAFe competencies.
  • Applying SAFe Principles: Application of SAFe principles in the Scrum Master role.
  • Exploring Agile and Scrum Anti-Patterns: Identifies anti-patterns in Scrum roles and tasks.
  • Facilitating ART Execution: Focuses on executing development with the Agile Release Train and managing teams for on-demand value release.
  • Improving Flow with Kanban and XP: Involves building Kanban boards and implementing metrics for workflow optimization.
  • Building High-Performing Teams: Develops practices for collaboration, cross-team interactions, and stakeholder trust.
  • Improving ART Performance: Practices Inspect and Adapt processes and conducts problem-solving workshops.

Exam Details:

  • Duration: 120 minutes
  • Number of Questions: 60
  • Passing Score: 73%
  • Question Format: Multiple choice or multiple select
  • Competency Level: Advanced; Expert fully competent

Key Differences and Considerations

  1. Target Audience: SSM is more suited for beginners in the Scrum Master role, while SASM is tailored for those with some experience looking to deepen their understanding and skills.
  2. Content Depth: SASM offers a more advanced curriculum, focusing on ART execution, advanced practices like Kanban and XP, and building high-performing teams.
  3. Exam Complexity: The SASM exam is longer and covers more complex scenarios, reflecting its advanced nature.
  4. Professional Development: SASM certification can be a natural progression for individuals who have completed the SSM certification and gained practical experience.
  5. Cost and Renewal: SASM has a higher renewal fee (295 USD per year), which reflects its advanced status and the ongoing value it offers to certified professionals.

Both SSM and SASM certifications offer valuable credentials for Scrum Masters within the SAFe framework. While the SSM certification lays the foundation for Scrum Masters in a SAFe environment, the SASM certification provides a deeper dive, suitable for those seeking to enhance their skills in complex enterprise scenarios. Choosing between the two depends on one’s current role, experience, and career aspirations in the realm of SAFe and Agile methodologies.

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