In SAFe, there is such a thing called ‘Continuous Delivery Pipeline’ — a pipeline that continuously delivers value — ad-infinitum — from ‘concept to cash’. It has three elements and one more: 1) Continuous Exploration (CE), 2) Continuous Integration (CI), 3) Continuous Deployment (CD), and the ‘one more’ is Release On Demand.
CE: is at the SAFe ‘Program Level’. This is where Features are developed… via Research and Synthesis.
CE: this is where product manager and collaborators look at the business epic and break it down into features… features that they will flesh out (research) then put all the features together (synthesize) … a clear vision surfaces, a roadmap of features created, a prioritized list of features for the upcoming Program Increment (PI) Planning are then refined.
One of the collaborators is the Business Analyst. Business Analyst (BA) is needed at a program level — specially when no one — not even the product manager — is a trained, experienced, and professional BA. I personally prefer a BA to be at the program level rather than at the team level. A well refined feature allows engagement and discovery of impacted entities outside your ecosystem early on instead of engaging and discovering them when teams are iterating — here is why: 1) iteration is just two weeks — too short a time for business analysis matters, 2) needed outside-your-ecosystem team’s capacity might already be full/allocated/spoken for, 3) there might be an architectural runway deficiency that an enabler feature might be needed to be built — it is too late to discover this at the team level.
Dean Leffingwell — one of the founders of SAFe — stated in his book, Agile Software Requirements, 2011, p.74, ‘… Product Management… These stakeholders may have different titles, such as product manager, .., business analyst… , but the responsibility is clear: They are ultimately responsible for the end-to-end solution.‘
I am an experienced, trained, and certified professional business analyst (PMI-PBA)… I know the intricacies of the BA profession. I reckon that BAs are essential to end to end solution.
So, the answer is a resounding yes!