Thinking of trying to integrate Epics into your existing Agile workflow? Epics are longer chunks of work that be added into your existing Agile process and can help ensure that all members of your UX team are on the same page. First, let’s break down how exactly Epics work and how to transition them into your workflow.

What is an Epic?

Any segment of work with one common aim, from a customer feature request to a business requirement, can be defined as an Epic within Agile methodology. An Epic may take more than one sprint to complete, and it won’t necessarily include all the specific details that need to be completed during those cycles. For more specificity, Epics can be broken down into even smaller pieces known as stories. As you make progress and receive customer feedback, you can add or remove stories as needed from your workflow. Think of an Epic as a chapter in your workflow that is flexible and open to updates as needed.

Epics are helpful in organizing your work and creating a hierarchy of tasks, even across multiple teams or projects. Large tasks can be overwhelming, but if they are broken down into smaller chunks (in this case, Epics), your team can complete parts of a bigger assignment in an orderly and timely manner. 

Epics as Part of Agile

An Epic doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Before creating an Epic, start with the central goal in mind. This may be a new product launch, the development of a new feature, or the implementation of client feedback. Whatever it is, create a road map to help visualize a plan of action towards accomplishing this bigger goal. Finally, break down this road map into manageable chunks (Epics) that will enable your team to make progress towards an end goal. 

Why Create an Epic?

There are four main advantages to creating an Epic. Epics:

  • Help managers more easily oversee deliverables within important projects 
  • Help teams better understand the process that it takes to develop a product or a feature
  • Help managers match the Agile process to meet a company’s culture and ways of working (particularly by choosing the length and specificity of each Epic)
  • Help team leaders accomplish steps toward a goal in a reasonable amount of time (the average time frame to complete an Epic is several weeks)

Often Epics are created around quarterly goals or other objectives and key results (OKR), helping teams stay on track towards major milestones.

Measuring an Epic

As you work through an Epic, you will want to keep your team motivated and your stakeholders informed. A burndown chart is an ideal way to ensure that your Epic is on track. The chart will track the time on the x-axis—the allotted time, the time used and any time that remains—and on the y-axis it will show the stories completed and the issues that have arisen during the Epic.

Epics are powerful tools within the Agile framework, and while they may be less well-known than other aspects of the methodology, they can be essential tools to stay on track within large-scale projects. 

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