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What is an Agile Epic? Best Practices, Examples & Templates

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4th Sep, 2023
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What is an Agile Epic? Best Practices, Examples & Templates

Agile epics are highly beneficial for categorizing user stories into bigger initiatives and for organizing an agile backlog. But what is epic in agile? What are the best practices for using it? Scroll through this article to learn everything about agile epic from this article.

What is an Agile Epic?

An agile epic refers to a large body of work that can be easily segmented into different smaller stories. Epics usually involve multiple teams on multiple projects and can be tracked on various boards. 

Epics are usually delivered over a set of sprints. A team can acquire more knowledge about an epic via customer feedback and development. With increased awareness about epics, user stories can be easily added and removed as per requirements. Therefore, the scope of agile epics is flexible as per customer feedback and the cadence of the agile team.  

Agile Epic Feature User Story Hierarchy

The epic feature user story hierarchy is as follows:

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  • Epics
  • Features
  • User stories or tasks
  • Subtasks 

What are the Epics Components?  

The different epic components include the following:

  • A statement supporting business objectives
  • Smaller user stories or tasks to represent what individual work items need to be completed

How to Create Epics in Agile  

In an epic and user story example, writing the epic first is always crucial. It ensures that the epic can serve as a headline for the overall user story. After that, you can add more specific details to the user story. As a result, you will be able to identify your project’s scope early. You will also get enough time to dive into researching each user requirement later. 

When you are ready to create an agile epic, follow these steps:

Step 1: Define the User Persona of the Epic

Begin with defining who the project is meant for. Maybe you are adding new features to attract new customers or to impress existing customers. Making fictional characters for every user story with detailed pain points and key requirements can help you a lot. 

Step 2: Structure the Individual Work Items and Map them in a Single Place 

Every epic will come with a collection of user stories for delivery. If you want to develop a clear roadmap, you should assign every story to a specific iteration or sprint. It will help you gauge how much time you will need to complete the epic. 

Step 3: Incorporate Feedback Opportunities 

During the different stages of your epic, seeking user feedback is mandatory. Always pay attention to suggestions and try to incorporate them into your epic plan. Remember that this is the stage of modifying the user story. 

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Agile Epic Template 

You won’t come across a specific format for an epic in agile methodology. But adding a few specific things is necessary in any Agile epic template:

  • Pick a good name that speaks for itself. 
  • The description of the epic should include a rough outline of what it includes. You should reference certain company goals to explain how they are connected to business priorities.
  • The success metric provides knowledge about what will be measured after the epic is over. 
  • Use a big user story at the level of the whole epic. Therefore, a combination of epic and user stories can provide a better user experience. 

Examples of Agile Epics

Let us consider one of the epic examples agile:

Initiative: Use a CRM system to fulfill customer support requests

Epic: Choosing a CRM platform

User stories: As a project leader, I need details about business requirements and technical characteristics to choose the right CRM platform for resolving customer inquiries faster. 

7 Best Practices for Using Agile Epics

The seven best practices to follow while using an agile epic are as follows:

  • Begin with Epic Before Moving to Stories

When you are starting with any product development process, always begin with epics. It will ensure you have a detailed idea of what you have achieved and what remains. 

  • Give a Proper Name to Your Epic

While naming an epic, consider who will be using the information. The epic name should describe an outcome that you want to achieve using it. Since epics are often used for filtering, reporting, and grouping, choosing the right name is even more crucial.

  • Pick the Right Size of Epics

An epic that is too big will halt progress. An epic that is too small will create a lot of obstacles in your roadmap. Therefore, picking the right epic size is crucial. An ideal size of an epic is an implementation period of a few weeks or a few months. 

  • Leverage Epics for Structuring Your Backlog

Epics are ideal for structuring a product backlog with multiple user stories. Every story does not need to be included within an epic because small workpieces can be completed in a single sprint. But when you structure bigger work items into epics, you will enjoy the following benefits:

     i) Offers a high-level view of the big items in the backlog

     ii) Provides a comparison of the relative size of prioritization initiatives

The list of epics is also valuable for creating a detailed view of the product roadmap for senior management. 

  • Coordinate Multiple Teams

Epics are ideal for coordinating work among different agile development teams. With combined work for multiple product teams in a single epic, reporting per team and tracking progress becomes easier. 

  • Incorporate Success Metrics

It’s necessary to pick the right success metrics while defining an epic. The success metric will help team members and stakeholders realize what you are trying to achieve. An OKR metric is exceptional for relating an epic to business objectives. 

  • Create Epics with a Flexible Scope

An epic needs to have a flexible scope to avoid technical complications with work progress. The scope of an epic is influenced by the scope of its intended user. By adding new user stories to an epic, you can always increase the scope of an epic.

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How to Manage Agile Epics

If you want to manage the example of epic in Agile, you need to follow these steps:

  • Proceed to the Backlog section of your agile scrum project. 
  • Use the toggle available in the epic filter dropdown menu to get access to the epic panel. 

Remember that the different functions for managing epics demand different permissions. For instance, the “Edit Issues” permission is necessary for adding an issue to an epic. 

How to Measure and Track Agile Epics

Breakdown charts are useful for measuring epics and can help keep stakeholders informed. An effective epic burndown chart will ensure that the agility of the organization is top-notch. An epic burndown chart will reveal the original and approximate amount of work to be completed within an epic or sprint. While the horizontal x-axis signifies time, the vertical y-axis is used for indicating issues or stories of an epic in agile examples.  

What are the Main Benefits of Agile Epics?

After learning the epic meaning in agile, let’s explore some of its benefits:

Improved Organization

Epics are crucial for collecting user stories in a single place to keep track of your ideas. It makes project management easy without overlooking any requirements.

Better Time Management

Breaking down epics into sprints helps with developing an efficient project timeline. When you assume story points to figure out the level of sprint difficulty, your time estimation will be more accurate. 

Detailed Client Priorities

Agile teams will deliver better when they have access to detailed client requirements. Since different user stories define client requirements within an epic, no confusion remains in delivering the requirements.  

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Epics vs. User Stories vs. Initiatives

Dive into the differences between epic feature user story example

CategoryEpicsUser StoriesInitiatives
DefinitionCollection of stories for fulfilling a specific goalSmallest component of the frameworkUseful for driving epics
TimeframeA month to a quarterUsually a weekUp to a year
Meant forStakeholders, users, and customersTeam Stakeholders

A Real-world Example of an Epic

Check out one of the real-world epics in Agile examples:

Name: Improve the conversion rate in mobile checkout

Description: Modify the checkout flow in the mobile app to increase the conversion rate.

Success metric: completed checkout >35%.

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User story: As a buyer, I need a more organized checkout flow for a faster purchase. 

Conclusion

An epic user story and task are common components in agile methodology. Agile epics are a valuable and flexible tool. Therefore, always define a few epics while starting a new project. With multiple user stories inside the epics, you will get a much better overview of your agile backlog. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What are epics in agile?

Epics in agile are useful for structuring the agile roadmap and backlog. They are usually a collection of small stories with information about a large work item.

2What is the difference between epic and story in agile?

In agile, developers can finish stories within a one or two-week sprint. Therefore, developers can complete dozens of stories within a month. On the other hand, epics are fewer in number and take a lot of time to be completed. Usually, agile teams focus on completing two or three epics in each quarter.

3What is an epic and user story in Agile?

In agile, epics and user stories are completely different concepts. Epics are large bodies of work containing smaller stories. On the other hand, user stories are short requests or requirements drafted from the perspective of an end user.

4What is epic in agile methodology?

Epic is the highest information level in agile methodology. It contains multiple user stories. In an epic, user story includes all the necessary tasks for implementation.

5What is an epic vs. feature vs. story?

The epic, feature, user story in agile methodology are three different concepts. A feature is the product service or function necessary to meet customer requirements and add business value. A story or user story contains an informal description of different feature requirements. An epic is the overarching body of work derived from stories and features.