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What are Enablers in SAFe and its Types?

We are familiar with the fact that SAFe is one of the popular frameworks for Scaling Agility with its many advantages, and there are many concepts that are becoming part of it. One of them is effective Requirements Management or Backlog Management in SAFe. Today we are going to learn more about the role of enablers as Backlog structures in scaled agile frameworks/enablers in SAFe. 

In broad classification, backlog in SAFe is broken into 2 parts – Business Backlog item and Enabler Backlog item. Business Backlog items (for ex., Portfolio Epic, Features, User Stories) deliver value to the end users. Enablers don’t deliver value directly, however without enablers being implemented, customer / end-user value cannot be delivered. 

Enablers in SAFe play a major role and we are going to see why in this article below. Also, if you wish to learn more about it, then enroll in the best of the SAFe course to get an upper hand in this field.

What is an Enabler in SAFe?

Enablers enable value delivery to end users. It’s classified into 4 types – exploration enabler, architecture enabler, infrastructure enabler, and compliance enabler. An enabler will support the activities that are needed to extend the Architectural Runway which is very pivotal for future business functionality. Since Enabler is one of the types of backlog items and it needs enough capacity to spend, it should be visible in the backlog. They are known as value-added development activities that are subject to estimating, visibility tracking, WIPs limits, and feedback.

Types of Enablers in SAFe

The enablers in SAFe are being used for four main purposes that are mentioned below:

Exploration Enablers

If you conduct research, build prototypes, or have activities that are needed to be added to have a better understanding of the end user’s requirement, then these enablers are used. With the use of these kinds of enablers, you will be able to find possible solutions and might also find some alternatives.

Exploration enablers provide a way for the Agile teams to discover the details of requirements and design. Many products start with a larger variable intent, over a period, they get to move towards fixed intent. 

From the technical end, the development team may have multiple approaches to technically solve one problem. Figuring out which one is the right one would be the scope of Exploration Enabler. In short, Exploration enablers are research items, and prototypes that help you to define the requirements, and design of the product.

Architectural Enablers

With the help of these elements, you will be able to create a more appropriate future architectural runway. The architectural runway is the basis for developing business backlog items quickly, on more appropriate technical foundations. They  

Infrastructure Enablers

Agile product development is based on how frequently it can be integrated, deployed, and released to customers. There are various environments required for product development like Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment, etc, and making sure that they are created properly is very necessary.

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With these enablers, you not only create those environments but will also improve, automate, test, and deploy those environments. This will ensure that the Agile team will have a faster and more developed environment for continuous delivery of the product.

Compliance Enablers

In SAFe, verification and validation are done incrementally in every iteration and PI, through acceptance criteria, Definition of Done, etc. The artifacts required for product delivery are also incrementally created during product development.

For example, a specific regulatory guideline would demand a frequent design review, and preparation of certain documents like architecture documents,s, etc. Such backlog items are created as Compliance Enablers and tracked to closure.

How to Create and Manage Enablers?

Enablers can be part of any of the configurations of the SAFe framework – right from portfolio to team level enabler.

Enablers Epics: In SAFe, Epics are written when the implementation goes beyond 1 PI. When such enablers are found, they are called as “Enabler Epics”. These are written using the ‘Epic Hypothesis Statement’ format and they are written as the same business epics. 

Lean Business Case is the format used for writing an Epic before implementation. This will help to identify and track the enablers through the Portfolio Kanban system. Portfolio Enabler Epics cut across value streams and Program Increments (PIs).

Enabler Features and Capabilities: They are introduced by the Agile Release Trains and Solution Trains. Being part of the feature or capability, these enablers are needed to share the same attributes and this includes:

  • Short phrase
  • Benefit hypothesis
  • Acceptance criteria

The main thing to notice here is that they should fit into the single given PI.

Enabler Stories: They become part of the iterations and they should fit in those iterations like any other stories. The acceptance criteria that are defined in these enablers should be clear.

Importance of Enablers

The enablers in Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) are created by the architects or by the engineers. This can be the Enterprise Architects providing support for the portfolio backlog or the system or solution Architects providing support for ART and the solution trains. 

Some of the enablers will emerge locally from the needs of the teams and this will help in giving more emphasis on furthering the solution and also provide an extension to the architectural runway. With the right use of the Kanban system, different types of enablers can be identified and implemented subject to capacity allocation.

Final Words

Here on this page, we have learned how these enablers help in providing solutions to ART and solution trains along with its types. Indeed with the proper implementation of enablers in a Scaled Agile Framework, it is safe to say that it will help have better development throughout the PI.

So, if you are also fascinated by this and want to explore more about this world then there is no better place than Leanwisdom where you can get hands on the best courses for SAFe training. The SAFe Agilist Certification will open big doors for you and you can have a path carved for you. So start living your dream with Leanwisdom and learn from the best.

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