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What is Release Train Engineer in SAFe?

Planning and efficient execution are required for an Agile organization to thrive and achieve its business objectives. Scaled Agile Framework has an ART structure which is mainly formed to deliver value to the customer through significant Development Value streams. ART is a team of multiple Agile teams working towards continuously delivering value to the customer. 

Although Agile teams are cross-functional and self-organized, they need a mentor who can provide guidance and coaching across the Agile Release Train. 

A Release Train Engineer acts as the coach and servant leader for an Agile Release Train. RTE is the facilitator of all the events happening across the ART. There will be 1 RTE for every ART.

In this article, we will learn more about the roles and responsibilities of a Release Train Engineer and how they can effectively facilitate the workings of ART (Agile Release Train). 

Before we begin, let’s find out what we understand from the role of a Release Train Engineer. 

Who is a Release Train Engineer?

The primary job of a Release Train Engineer is to ensure a steady flow of value through an Agile Release Train. 

RTE facilitates all the ART Processes and also the execution. RTE helps the teams in managing the risks, escalating the impediments, and Coaching the Leaders, teams about Lean-Agile mindset.

Now, one might ask that Scrum teams already have a Product Owner and a Scrum Master, so why is there a need for a SAFe Release Train Engineer

The answer is that while individual agile teams have a Scrum Master that acts as a coach for the team, a Release Train Engineer serves as a coach for a collection of agile teams working across the entire ART. 

A SAFe RTE is above a Scrum Master or Product Owner, and they act as a servant leader or guide for the Agile Release Trains in a SAFe framework. 

As RTEs do not have anyone above them to answer to or look up to for guidance, a SAFe RTE’s role is quite challenging and different from other Agile roles. Let’s look into the skills that are required to be a Release Train Engineer:

Skills Required to be an RTE

  • Influential: In a managerial role, RTEs are essential for their span of influence. 

As they have to manage multiple Agile teams and ensure seamless delivery of value, RTEs should be responsible for creating a favourable environment that promotes teamwork and drives value across groups. 

  • Mentorship and Coaching: As the primary job of an RTE is to provide guidance and coach Agile teams, they must have mentorship qualities to foster an Agile mindset so that the teams can scale collaboratively. 
  • Lean & Agile Understanding: The RTE must know about the Lean and Agile. As they are responsible for facilitating the processes across agile teams, they must have clarity about these concepts at all times. 

A SAFe RTE Training will help you understand the skill set required to be an RTE. Now that we have a brief understanding of the roles and skills of a Release Train Engineer, we will look into their responsibilities: 

Responsibilities of RTE

  • Facilitating Program Level processes and execution

The main element of focus in SAFe is alignment. Aligning the program objectives and facilitating their execution is one of the essential responsibilities of RTE. They look into the impediments and SAFe events to ensure that the ART is on schedule. 

  • Synthesising Vision and Roadmap through PI Planning

The Release Train Engineer is responsible for facilitating Program Increment planning. Through PI planning meetings, the RTE summarises the team PI obejectives into program PI objectives. 

  • PI Execution in a planned manner

As the RTE does not indulge in micromanagement and hence cannot communicate individually with team members, they can arrange meetings with Scrum Masters and Product Owners to ensure that the objectives are conveyed and executed. 

The role of a Release Train Engineer is diverse as they have to ensure that everyone is working in coordination in an Agile Release train. An RTE needs to ensure that the scrum masters, product owners, and development team are working in collaboration to deliver maximised value. 

To conclude, the role of the RTE has to be taken very seriously in Scaled Agile framework. If you are looking forward to making a career as an RTE, then the SAFe RTE certification can help you understand RTE’s role.


1. What is the role of an RTE in scrum of scrums?

SoS is a timeboxed event and is facilitated by the RTE with Scrum masters of different Agile teams across the ART, to discuss the progress, any impediments, and dependencies of different agile teams within the ART.

2. Name one tool through which RTEs manage and optimize value across ARTs.

RTEs use Program Kanban, Program Board, Risk Board etc to manage and optimize the value stream across ART. 

3. How do RTEs help to ensure strategy and execution alignment in Agile Release Trains?

RTE works with stakeholders, Product Owners, and Scrum masters to ensure strategy and execution alignment in Agile Release Trains.

4. How do RTEs manage PI and Iterations?

RTEs establish and communicate the annual calendar for the Iterations and PI planning meetings well in advance to ensure everybody across the ART is aware of these dates. 

5. How do RTEs manage the budget in SAFe projects?

RTEs should adhere to Guardrails and understand the Lean Budget to manage budgeting in a SAFe.