Epics Generally Are Not That Awesome

©2015 Dwayne Wright

The first time that I heard of an epics in regards to the software requirements domain, I imagined that label represented a particularly important requirement. After hearing that is was just a really big requirement narrative, I thought they came into being via top down approach. That is to say that you build an epic requirement, beak it down into manageable pieces and ensure you have full traceability. 

In most cases, epics grow from modest beginnings such as an individual user story. When the user story is determined to be too large in scope, it is renamed an epic and then broken into smaller user stories. Although size is the most common reason that epics are created, any of the other INVEST guidelines for user stories can apply. ( INVEST: Independent, Negotiable , Valuable to users or customers , Estimable , Small and Testable)

As a manager, I need to see a status dashboard of all ongoing project task activities so that I can manage my resources effectively. 

At the very least, the above example would have trouble fulfilling the goals of being Estimable, Small and Testable. So we can make the user story an epic and then break this down into small stories. 

1. As a manager, I need to see a status dashboard that groups and lists completed tasks so that I can manage my resources effectively. 

2. As a manager, I need to see a status dashboard that groups and lists tasks currently being work so that I can manage my resources effectively. 

3. As a manager, I need to see a status dashboard that groups and lists tasks that are ready to be worked on but work has not started so that I can manage my resources effectively. 

4. As a manager, I need to see a status dashboard that groups and lists unassigned tasks I am thinking about but have not authorized work to start upon so that I can manage my resources effectively. 

5. As a manager, I need to see a status dashboard that lists in separate columns the unassigned tasks, ready to be worked tasks, tasks being worked and completed tasks so that I can effectively manage all the tasks for my project. 

Sounds like a Kanban board eh?