Also called: Epic, Feature, and Requirement
See also: Backlog
Relevant metrics: Number of Epics completed, Number of Epics in progress, Number of Epics added to backlog, Time to complete Epics, and Number of Epics removed from backlog
What is Backlog Epic
A Backlog Epic is a term used to refer to a large user story that is broken down into smaller stories. It is a way of organizing user stories into a hierarchical structure, with the Epic at the top and the smaller stories below it.
An Epic is typically used to represent a large feature or set of features that are related to each other. It is a way of grouping related stories together, so that they can be managed and tracked more easily. The Epic is also used to provide an overview of the feature set, and to provide a way of tracking progress on the feature set as a whole.
Where did Backlog Epic come from?
A backlog epic is a term used in software development and project management. It is a large user story that is broken down into smaller stories or tasks. It is used to organize and prioritize tasks in a project.
The term was first coined by Mike Cohn, a leading expert in Agile software development. He used the term to describe a large user story that was too big to be completed in one iteration. He suggested breaking it down into smaller stories or tasks that could be completed in a single iteration. This allowed for better organization and prioritization of tasks in a project.
The role of Backlog Epics
Backlog epics are used to provide a clear overview of the project and its goals. They are used to identify the major tasks that need to be completed and the order in which they should be completed. This helps to ensure that the project is completed in a timely and efficient manner. Backlog epics also provide a way to track progress and identify any potential issues that may arise.
Backlog epics are typically created at the beginning of a project and serve as a roadmap for the project. They provide a high-level overview of the project and its goals, and can be used to identify the tasks that need to be completed in order to achieve those goals. By breaking down the project into smaller tasks, project managers can better track progress and identify potential issues.
User Stories vs Epics
The realm of work management in an Agile setting can be likened to the narrative structure of a film or a literary piece. In this landscape, stories serve as the building blocks of a larger narrative - the epic.
- Stories. An Agile team strives to complete stories, which are small, manageable tasks that can be accomplished within a one- or two-week sprint. On a monthly basis, a team of developers may work on dozens of stories.
- Epics. In contrast, epics are fewer in number and encompass a longer timeframe for completion. Teams usually aim to complete two to three epics in a quarter. An epic provides a bird’s eye view of the overarching objective, while stories narrate the work done in its pursuit.
Organizing work into stories and epics facilitates effective communication within an organization. When reporting progress to a higher-up such as the Head of Engineering, epics become the mode of discourse, while discussing work with colleagues on the development team is done at the story level.
Consider a scenario where a company endeavors to enhance its streaming service for its rocket launches. A set of stories may include tasks such as providing iPhone users with a vertical view of the live feed, ensuring a “view fullscreen” button for desktop users, and linking Android users to the Apple store. All of these stories contribute to the realization of the larger objective - improving the streaming service for the first quarter launch, which can be considered an epic.
Why Your Backlog Items May be Epics
Contrary to popular belief, Epics are not simply larger versions of Stories. Rather, they are Backlog Items that the team is unable to reach a consensus on. This distinction highlights the fact that the planning process is rooted in agreement, rather than size. An Epic typically contains at least one Story, whether it be investigatory in nature, or a functional analysis that leads to the creation of additional Stories within the Epic. In cases where the Epic represents an issue or risk, internal Stories may be devised to investigate or mitigate the problem at hand.
There are a multitude of reasons why a Backlog Item may fail to receive agreement from the team. During the planning phase, a Story may evolve into an Epic as the team grapples with uncertainties such as the definition of “Done”, the amount of technical debt involved, or the availability of personnel to complete the task.
Challenges of using Epics
- Managing the scope of the Epic. A backlog Epic is a large-scale project that can be broken down into smaller tasks. It is important to ensure that the scope of the Epic is well-defined and that all tasks are properly tracked and monitored.
- Establishing a timeline. Establishing a timeline for the completion of the Epic is essential for ensuring that the project is completed on time and within budget.
- Allocating resources. Allocating the right resources to the Epic is key to its successful completion. It is important to ensure that the right people are assigned to the right tasks and that they have the necessary skills and experience to complete the project.
- Tracking progress. Tracking progress on the Epic is essential for ensuring that the project is completed on time and within budget. It is important to have a system in place to monitor progress and to ensure that any issues are addressed quickly.
- Managing risks. Managing risks associated with the Epic is essential for ensuring that the project is completed successfully. It is important to identify potential risks and to have a plan in place to mitigate them.
What is the purpose of this backlog epic?
Hint The purpose of this backlog epic is to provide a high-level overview of a project, outlining the goals, scope, and timeline for completion.
What is the scope of this backlog epic?
Hint The scope of this backlog epic includes the tasks, resources, and timeline needed to complete the project.
What are the expected outcomes of this backlog epic?
Hint The expected outcomes of this backlog epic are the successful completion of the project within the specified timeline and budget.
What resources are available to complete this backlog epic?
Hint Resources available to complete this backlog epic include personnel, materials, and equipment.
How will this backlog epic fit into the overall project timeline?
Hint This backlog epic will fit into the overall project timeline by providing a timeline for completion of the project.
What risks are associated with this backlog epic?
Hint Risks associated with this backlog epic include delays in completion, budget overruns, and quality issues.
How will this backlog epic be monitored and tracked?
Hint This backlog epic will be monitored and tracked by tracking progress against the timeline and budget.
What is the estimated timeline for completion of this backlog epic?
Hint The estimated timeline for completion of this backlog epic is dependent on the scope of the project.
What are the potential impacts of this backlog epic?
Hint Potential impacts of this backlog epic include cost savings, improved customer satisfaction, and increased efficiency.
How will success be measured for this backlog epic?
Hint Success for this backlog epic will be measured by meeting the timeline and budget goals, as well as achieving the desired outcomes.
You might also be interested in reading up on:
- Chris James @ChrisJames_Dev
- Chris Chinchilla @ChrisChinch
- David Heinemeier Hansson @dhh
- Jeff Patton @jeffpatton
- Mike Cohn @mikewcohn
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