What is an Epic in Agile Methodology

by StarAgile

November 07, 2019
Category Agile and Scrum


If you have been wondering that what is epic in agile, then read on carefully. In simple and straightforward words, an epic is a large chunk of the task that mainly covers a common objective (customer request, business requirement, or feature). When it comes to the backlog, it is the placeholder for the necessary functionality that contains a few phrases of the description. You may wonder what help does it contribute? Well, it helps in decoding the final output of user needs. Once the work begins, there won't be all the required details in the initial period that the team needs to focus upon. The necessary information could be found in the User Stories. In most of the cases, an epic would require more than one sprint for full completion. 

What are the Expected Benefits of Epic? 

If you have got large ideas that are loosely in nature, then need not worry as you can manage them in the backlog using Epics. Plus, you won't have anyhow produced the environment of multiple crowded items in your backlog. During this phase, the team can separate the epic into a variety of small user stories, at the time of backlog refinement. 

Standard Terms/Concepts to Know While Creating an Agile Epic:

1) Stories: The stories, which are also commonly known as user stories, are the end-user requirements or demands. The epic is divided into smaller lots as per the customer need or request, whichever way you want to say. 

2) Themes: These can be meant as the goals of an organization. Themes are your main areas that a team needs to focus upon so that the overall goals of the organization can be achieved. 

3) Initiatives: They are the combination of epics consisting of a common objective that makes the team of an organization follow upon. 

4) Features: It's is a broad functionality that helps in giving out items, including customer engagement, reviews, to name a few to the business. The feature is said to have many user stories and themes. 

How to Track Epic? 

Imagine the epic as a book and the user's stories as the chapters. That being said, epic is a great technique to track your complex feature progress. Not to forget that epic is simply a placeholder that can hold your various user stories that are primarily concentrated on the specific scope. The user stories coming out of an epic have the property of being spanned across multiple projects. Remember, that we said, an epic usually contains more than one sprint, and that's what you have to look precisely in here; a number of sprints. To get the percentage completion of the epic, the Product Owner can easily calculate your percentage of associated done user stories. 

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Advantages of Creating an Epic 

A large project at once can seem like a daunting task. Still, if the same thing is broken into smaller pieces, then it won't look like much of an issue, and an epic help in the same thing, which at the end of the day is quite useful in effectively meeting the organizational goals. 

As the project is broken down into smaller sprints, one can easily track the overall project progress or the sophisticated features in a brief look. 

They help in the structuring of a core idea of the project. You can conceptualize and create the hierarchy, which would further help you to achieve your set outcome. 

It helps to avoid hindrance or any other kind of obstacle by limiting the story size within sprint management quarters. 

If you want to track multiple teams or projects at a time without disturbing anyone in their work, then epic is a great way. The project mechanism gets a lot efficient as the tasks are distributed based on priorities. 

It's quite useful in the tracking of the broad ideas in backlog refinement. The multiple unwanted items from the product backlog easily get eliminated. 

What Are Common Mistakes Made During Epic Management? 

There's a common misconception that goes with the epic teams that make them think the epic as a large number of stories, which later results in over complications of the epics. 

The equivocation that's created between complex mechanisms and the ideas can result in the difficulties between stories and spics, which can get them confused with the product backlogs, ultimately affecting the epic hierarchy. In the end, this can make the epic tracking and story, a very much complicated task. 

The equivocation of ideas, unfortunately, results in the eradication of essential estimates and deal of uncertainty as the items remain unclear. 

The main aim is to get the whole team on the same ground level, and that can only be achieved when there's no equivocation or ambiguity and to make that level, you will have to have clear communication with the team of the original core idea of the project, goal or product. Once there's no confusion between the real project and project ideas, there won't even be any useless efforts or equivocation. Try to make sure that no time is spent on the unnecessary categorizing and documenting of the backlog, and that can be done by preventing any product backlog (backlog refinement).

Try not to focus much on the various kind of ways of showcasing the ideas but instead shed light on the process, which would let you focus upon the outcome. Epic is a pretty fantastic way to keep an eye on the various projects that comprise of sophisticated features. These days the stakeholders have a lot of urgencies, and that's where epics can come to the rescue! They help to break down a large chunk of information into smaller pieces (stories), which can help the epic teams to focus on the essential areas that need to be given attention at the moment. 

How is an Agile Epic Created? 

It's not easy to learn how to write an epic in Agile. It's a bit of a complicated process that involves several necessary steps. Keep a note when the quarterly achievement of the white team arrives as then only it’s the best time to create an epic. Try to keep the following points in mind, while you are trying to create an agile epic:

1) Reporting: Recording in the epic is the process where the agile epic is drafted for the project managers and other essential team members so that they can keep a track on the project. 

2) Description: The description part consists of the briefing of the mechanism that will help in the achievement of the current product or project. All stories of the epic are a part of it. 

3) Epic Culture: Here, you will come across the size of your epic team, which will entirely depend upon the organization's culture. 

4) Timeline: As the name suggests, the thing should be taken care of in mind. You must complete the epic user story or stories on time. The time invested in the epic feature user story shouldn't either be too long or too short. 

How to Not Get Lost in Epics Features and User Stories? 

An epic is known for having a lot of user stories that have a global goal. But at times, there can be a lot of tasks under the user stories, which could become a lot hard in terms of execution. This way, it might be a bit difficult to understand where the full epic begins, and the actual user story ends. Let's try to understand the difference between user stories and epics. 

The first thing that we are going to discuss is the task. The task contains a simple action, which, when the need arises, can provide the user with the ability to create a specific act. 

The second thing is the user story, which showcases several grouped tasks. Like we mentioned a few times earlier in the article, every user story carries its own identity. But not to forget that it's still not a function but merely a user wish that would facilitate the specialists in the creation of the direct function of the product. 

One of the most critical and significant levels of task creation is epic! You won't find a lot of notes in it, but yes, different user stories contain their essential data. Each user story can be analyzed and accordingly interpreted by the developers so that the necessary functions and advanced features of the future product can be delivered. 

All the above things show that every epic is a kind of challenge in itself for the developers in which they have to build the product and consider every minor to a significant aspect of epic so that no detail in the product functionality is missed by any chance. 

How to Write Epic in Agile Flawlessly? 

1) Carefully Examine Every User Story 

This may seem like an absurd point, but believe us many times, the developers forget to test every user story to ensure whether or not it fits into the guidelines of your project. We have personally come across a lot of projects being spoiled just due to one simple afunctional user story. 

2) Gather Many Colleagues to Your Epic Creation 

You, as a single mind, would be quite capable of pulling off the whole project on your own, but there's always scope for more. What more can be achieved by hiring different expert minds who have the necessary skills and knowledge? After all, teamwork is what makes you the farthest in the journey! 

3) Try to Follow Sequence 

If you follow a vague pattern, then the outcome may not be what you would have desired. It's important to understand that each element of the epic plays a considerable part, and thus, every area should be given equal consideration. Get consistency in your workflow, and you should start seeing effective results in no time! Try to take the help of a roadmap. 

4) Include Only Necessary Things 

Always have the main principle of Agile in mind, which says that only focus upon the needed practices and avoid all the other excess things that don't play a significant role in the project. Each action should hold the right amount of value; try to see that it is prudent. 

Conclusion:

We have to admit that epic is an essential part of the agile methodology. Epics are a great way to maintain the stability in the market, and through it, both the business and the user are satisfied. Not to forget the hard work of specialists that goes behind the scenes! 

If you want to gain expertise in Agile methodology or want to expand your knowledge on this area for any reason, then you must apply for a right and recognized Agile and CSM training course or program.



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