What is an Agile Epic?

You are doing product management, and you have heard about agile epics? Are you wondering what it is? You've come to the right place. In this article, we detail what you need to know about agile epics. You will also find out why they are very useful and how to use them in your product management process.

Agile epic: definition and usefulness

In agile methodology, epics are a set of tasks that can be subdivided into different specific tasks (also called "user stories"). As a reminder, user stories are easy-to-understand sentences that precisely describe a feature's content to be developed.

Agile epics are directly based on the needs of the end customer. They focus on the user's expectations and are one level above user stories. Their goal is to ensure that you deliver a product that meets those expectations.

The agile epic is a tool to organize the work and create a hierarchy within the product team. By dividing tasks into smaller deliverables, you can achieve ambitious projects while consistently delivering value to customers. In other words, the agile epic helps you break down the work of product development while still achieving a more global goal.

A single agile epic can involve several teams on several different projects. Its delivery almost always involves a series of sprints. As the project progresses, new user stories are added or removed from the epic. In an agile project, it is essential to maintain a certain amount of flexibility to take into account the user's product feedback and any new data.

agile epic

Creating an agile epic: tips

As we have seen, at the origin of an epic, there are specific user stories. And behind each user story, there is a need expressed by the end customer. The challenge is to identify, translate and use this need. To define your user stories and epics, we advise you to start with the traditional questions: "who", "what" and "why".

When creating an agile epic, consider the following elements:

  • Reporting: your epics should only be about important projects (i.e. closely monitored by the product manager and management).
  • Storytelling: because they are based on very concrete user stories, your epics will also serve to feed the storytelling around your product (or your functionality).
  • Culture: your epics should take into account your organizational culture.
  • Estimation: the duration of your epics must be estimated as accurately as possible (not too long, not too short).

Agile epics and user stories

Do not hesitate to divide an epic into several user stories when necessary. In addition to the practicality of management, this helps you to understand the project better and to instil a better dynamic. That being said, it is not always easy to know when to create stories from an agile epic. When you measure the completion of a task in "weeks" rather than "hours" or "days", we advise you to make it a separate epic, divisible into smaller user stories.

Having good control over your agile epics and user stories (and knowing how to move efficiently from one to the other) will help you optimize your product management. Keep in mind that the most innocuous agile epic is likely to give rise to particularly innovative ideas. The Harvestr team is at your disposal if you wish to be accompanied on these subjects.

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