Agile

Epics

Contents
What are Epics?
Definition of Epics
Epics, in an agile context, refer to large, high-level bodies of work that can be broken down into a set of smaller stories which guide software development incrementally. Epics capture and categorize desired overarching features or functions in a product roadmap, providing direction and organization around business objectives without specification details early on. They are broad and conceptual, allowing flexibility in how they are delivered while framing the value statement and context to evaluate, prioritize and develop a solution iteratively and incrementally with users in mind.

In the realm of product management and operations, the term 'epics' holds a significant place. Epics are large bodies of work that can be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks known as 'stories'. They are essentially a collection of user stories that all contribute to a larger, overarching goal. This article will delve into the intricacies of epics, their role in product management and operations, and how they are used in practice.

Understanding epics is crucial for anyone involved in product development, from product managers and operations professionals to software developers and project managers. Epics provide a framework for organizing work and ensuring that all tasks are aligned with the product's strategic objectives. They also help teams prioritize work, track progress, and manage resources effectively.

Definition of Epics

An epic is a large body of work that encapsulates a significant feature or functionality in a product's development process. It is a high-level work item that can be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks or user stories. Epics are typically used in Agile development methodologies, particularly Scrum and Kanban.

Epics are often used to group related user stories together. For example, an epic for an e-commerce website might be "Improve Checkout Process", and it could include user stories like "Add Guest Checkout Option", "Improve Payment Gateway Integration", and "Optimize Checkout Page Load Speed". Each of these user stories contributes to the overall goal of the epic.

Characteristics of Epics

Epics have several defining characteristics. Firstly, they are large in scope and often span multiple iterations or sprints. This means that they cannot be completed in a single iteration and require careful planning and coordination among team members.

Secondly, epics are composed of multiple user stories. Each user story within an epic is a self-contained task that can be worked on independently. However, all user stories within an epic contribute to the epic's overall goal.

Importance of Epics

Epics are important for several reasons. They provide a high-level overview of a feature or functionality, allowing team members to understand the broader context of their work. This helps to align individual tasks with the product's strategic objectives.

Epics also facilitate better planning and resource allocation. By breaking down a large body of work into smaller tasks, teams can prioritize work more effectively and ensure that resources are allocated where they are most needed.

Using Epics in Product Management

Epics play a crucial role in product management. They help product managers define the product's roadmap, prioritize features, and manage the product backlog. Epics also provide a framework for tracking progress and measuring success.

Product managers use epics to define the product's strategic objectives and align them with the company's business goals. By grouping related user stories under a single epic, product managers can ensure that all tasks are aligned with these objectives.

Creating Epics

The process of creating an epic begins with defining the epic's goal. This goal should be aligned with the product's strategic objectives and should provide clear direction for the team. Once the goal has been defined, the product manager can begin to identify the user stories that will contribute to this goal.

Each user story within an epic should be a self-contained task that contributes to the epic's overall goal. The user stories should be prioritized based on their importance and the resources available. Once all the user stories have been identified and prioritized, the epic can be added to the product backlog.

Managing Epics

Managing epics involves tracking progress, managing resources, and ensuring that all user stories are completed on time. Product managers use various tools and techniques to manage epics, including Agile project management tools, Kanban boards, and Scrum meetings.

One of the key aspects of managing epics is ensuring that all user stories are completed on time and within budget. This requires careful planning, coordination among team members, and effective resource management. If a user story is not progressing as planned, the product manager may need to re-prioritize tasks or allocate additional resources to ensure that the epic is completed on time.

Using Epics in Operations

Epics are not only used in product management but also play a crucial role in operations. They provide a framework for organizing work, managing resources, and tracking progress. This helps operations teams ensure that all tasks are aligned with the company's strategic objectives and are completed on time and within budget.

Operations teams use epics to group related tasks together, prioritize work, and manage resources effectively. By breaking down a large body of work into smaller tasks, operations teams can ensure that resources are allocated where they are most needed and that all tasks are completed on time.

Creating Epics in Operations

The process of creating an epic in operations is similar to that in product management. It begins with defining the epic's goal, which should be aligned with the company's strategic objectives. Once the goal has been defined, the operations manager can begin to identify the tasks that will contribute to this goal.

Each task within an epic should be a self-contained work item that contributes to the epic's overall goal. The tasks should be prioritized based on their importance and the resources available. Once all the tasks have been identified and prioritized, the epic can be added to the operations backlog.

Managing Epics in Operations

Managing epics in operations involves tracking progress, managing resources, and ensuring that all tasks are completed on time. Operations managers use various tools and techniques to manage epics, including project management tools, Gantt charts, and regular team meetings.

One of the key aspects of managing epics in operations is ensuring that all tasks are completed on time and within budget. This requires careful planning, coordination among team members, and effective resource management. If a task is not progressing as planned, the operations manager may need to re-prioritize tasks or allocate additional resources to ensure that the epic is completed on time.

Examples of Epics

To better understand the concept of epics, let's look at a few examples. Suppose a software development company is working on a new feature for their product. The feature is complex and requires several different tasks to be completed. The product manager might create an epic titled "Develop New Feature", and this epic would include several user stories such as "Design User Interface", "Develop Backend Logic", and "Test New Feature".

In an operations context, suppose a manufacturing company is planning to upgrade their production line. The operations manager might create an epic titled "Upgrade Production Line", and this epic would include several tasks such as "Purchase New Equipment", "Train Staff on New Equipment", and "Test New Production Line".

Conclusion

Epics are a crucial tool in product management and operations. They provide a framework for organizing work, managing resources, and tracking progress. By breaking down a large body of work into smaller tasks, teams can ensure that all tasks are aligned with the company's strategic objectives and are completed on time and within budget.

Whether you're a product manager, an operations professional, or a team member involved in product development or operations, understanding and effectively using epics can greatly enhance your ability to deliver successful outcomes. So, the next time you're faced with a large body of work, consider using epics to manage it effectively.