At work we’ve had a lot of discussion about epics lately. We seem to have forgotten what they are and how we learned to deal with epics. It became a ‘theme’ or just a big pile of stories which sounded like they belong together. But epics are much much more.
An epic is a goal, and just one goal only. All the stories in the epic should contribute to that epic! Also the epics goal should be a business goal, never a technical goal. The epic should describe a SMART described measurable goal without hinting towards a (technical) solution.
In our project we tend to forget what epics are for and why they are so important after some time.
To remind everybody we decided to write down a manifesto for the epic:
- An epic has just one goal, not more and not less.
- An epic is always measurable, thou should always ask “why” until the business value is clear.
- An epic has a fixed goal, new insights will lead to new epics.
- An epic should have a solution conceived with and verified by the stakeholders, users, product owner and the team.
- An epic contains only stories that help to achieve the goal.
- An epic is ‘done’ when the goal is achieved.
- An epic is only estimated in relative complexity, never in units of time.
- An epic is always in the correct order on the backlog (by the product owner).
- An epic is realized by the team with the minimal viable solution.
- Does your epic break one of the rules above? It is an epic failure!
This is going on several walls in our building just to remind us how important correct epics are. If the initial goal is wrong, all the stories are wrong as well. The epic is the base of all the solutions you’ll be creating and must be founded properly.
Any thoughts on this subject, don’t hesitate to reply. Agile projects get better by sharing best practices and trying to improve!