Role of the SAE or System Architect in an SAFe train

The System Architect, or SAE, in the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) plays a vital role in aligning technology with business objectives in large-scale agile projects.

In this article, we’ll detail the responsibilities and challenges of this essential role, as well as the skills needed to excel as an SAE. Whether you’re an experienced agile professional or new to the field, you’ll discover how System Architect makes a significant contribution to the success of agile businesses.

A System Architect defines the solution’s architectural and technical orientations and infrastructure, in line with ART’s business vision (Agile Release Train).

The EAS is involved in defining non-functional requirements and enablers for trains, systems, subsystems and interfaces.

It builds technological hypotheses and evaluates alternatives.

SAE (System Architect) activities :

You will find below a list of activities inherent to the role of System Architect :

  • Design systems and solutions in an Agile way using Design Thinking. i.e. developing products that are customer-centric products that are customer-centric, desirable, profitable and sustainable throughout their life cycle.
  • Ensure and manage the technical quality of Agile Release Train (or SAFe Train) deliverables.
  • Work closely with RTE, Product Management, Product Owners and development teams to implement the Solution.
  • Bring the technical vision to the level of the ART (Agile Release Train).
  • Define the systems, subsystems and interfaces on which solutions are developed.
  • Define, explore and facilitate the implementation of system upgrades to ensure maximum technical quality of the product delivered by the SAFe train.
  • Participate in ART ceremonies such as PI Planning or SoS.
  • Participate in leading the System Team.
  • Work with customers, stakeholders and suppliers to ensure that the final solution designed and delivered meets all Quality of Service (QoS) requirements.

But what does Solution Architect/Engineering, also spelled SAE, stand for?

In the previous section, we highlighted the role of the System Architect in the ART context (a single SAFe train made up of several Agile teams). For large solutions requiring several ARTs, we speak of the Large Solution SAFe level. The abbreviation SAE can designate the role of System Architect/Engineering, but also that of Solution Architect/Engineering.

The Solution Architect/Engineering role defines, implements and shares the vision of the technical architecture at the level of the SAFe Large Solution (a set of ARTs).

system solution architect safe 5 sae Role of the SAE or System Architect in an SAFe train

As part of a Large SAFe Solution, it is crucial that System Architects work closely with Solution Architects. This collaboration aims to ensure that the solutions developed within each SAFe Train integrate effectively and support the Capabilities and strategic orientations of the Large Solution.

This cooperation involves active participation in Large Solution-wide Refinement Backlog meetings, contributing to the definition of SAFe Capabilities, Enablers and Non-Function Requirements.

How much will a System Architect earn in 2022?

The median salary for System Architects in France is 62k€. per year. Salaries range from €50k for a junior to over €90k for a senior working for a major group in the Paris region.

How do I become a System Architect Engineering (SAE) SAFe?

To become a SAFe-certified System Architect Engineering (SAE), it is recommended that you follow the steps below:

  1. Familiarize yourself with SAFe: First of all, you need to have a thorough knowledge of SAFe, including its basic principles and practices. For this, you can take SAFe online courses. I particularly recommend this e-learning ( link here )

  2. Practical experience: It’s important to have practical experience as a Tech Lead, developer, architect, software engineer or other software development position.

  3. Take a certification course: Once you’ve acquired a basic knowledge of SAFe, you can take an inexpensive e-learning course. If you also have practical experience in software development, you can take a certified SAE training course at an accredited training center. This training course will help you deepen your knowledge and prepare you for the SAE certification exam.

  4. Take the certification exam: The exam is designed to test your understanding of SAFe principles and practices, and your ability to apply them in practical situations.

  5. Renewing your certification: SAE SAFe certification must be renewed every two years to maintain your SAE SAFe status. You must take continuing education courses and accumulate professional development points to renew your certification.

In short, to become a SAFe-certified System Architect Engineer (SAE), you need to have a basic knowledge of SAFe, practical experience in software development, complete a certified SAE training course, pass the certification exam and renew your certification regularly.

formation SAFe Agile e learning Role of the SAE or System Architect in an SAFe train
Top-rated course on Udemy (click on photo to find out more)

Further information

Please find below our useful links:

  1. This article is based on the definition of System Architect/Engineering proposed by the official SAFe website.
  2. The most comprehensive book on the SAFe method by Richard Knaster: SAFe 5.0 Distilled – Achieving Business Agility with the Scaled Agile Framework.

Cette publication est également disponible en : French

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Strongly involved in Agile methodologies, I have held the roles of Scrum Master, Product Owner and Release Train Engineer for SAFe, Scrum and DevOps projects. My approach focuses on people and stakeholder collaboration, creating environments conducive to innovation and performance.

Since 2016, I have successfully led several Agile software development projects for companies of all sizes, including Odigo, Orange and PSA. My solid experience in Agile methodologies, in particular Scrum and SAFe, has enabled me to work with multicultural teams from countries such as the USA, India, Vietnam and Morocco.

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