JIRA Epics Tutorial

What is JIRA?

A Jira Epic is a task/user story that can be broken down into several smaller user stories as per customers’ requirements. As a result, teams can accomplish bigger goals by breaking their work down into smaller pieces.

The Epics in Jira can be compared to folders in a project hierarchy where all the related data is placed. This makes it easy to find the relevant data.

Due to Jira being designed for agile practices, Jira epic is also designed for agile and DevOps teams.

Epic Vs. Story Vs. Task

Task, Story, and Epic are the key elements of Jira that help to plan, structure, and execute project-related tasks. Some characteristics of these elements are given here:

Task:

Task is the smallest element of a project and can be completed in one working day. Task can be assigned to a team member and marked as completed when finished. Some other features of task are:

  • Task is a part of sprint or scrum.
  • If the task is bigger, it can also be split into sub-tasks.
  • Tasks can be linked and can be locked by other tasks.

Story:

Story is a bigger element as compared to tasks, as stories are made of tasks. Features of Story are:

  • The story is usually assigned to the project lead.
  • Tasks are linked to stories.
  • Stories can be completed in a few sprints.

Epic:

Epic is a larger element that is broken down into stories and tasks. Epics have the following characteristics:

  • Epics represent the collection of tasks for a bigger project.
  • Epics are part of multiple sprints.
  • Epic comprises stories and tasks that can be linked.

The following example depicts these elements:

Here are some basic differences between Epic Vs. Story Vs. Task:

Parameter Epic Story Task
Meaning An Epic could present the theme or topic to which a task belongs or represent a big project, for example, “Relaunch Website “ Stories can be a bigger project, like creating new landing pages for the marketing campaign. Tasks are being used to plan particular tasks that might take more than 1 working day.
Usage It is mainly used for high-level business requirements use to track large ideas in a product backlog. Stories are small project requirements that describe what should be done. It can be divided into subtasks.
Size They are too big and complex to be delivered in a single sprint. Stories are deliverables that are small enough to be completed in a sprint. Tasks can be part of a sprint or scrum.
Cross-linking Stories and Tasks belonging to the same epic are sometimes linked or co-dependent. All related Tasks can be linked into a single story. They can be cross-linked and can block each other.

Jira’s Epic Features

As a project management and tracking tool, Jira Epic has some indispensable features explained below:

  • Project Planning: To create a defined scope, organize and assign the work, and set project schedules.
  • Customizable Workflows: To fit the requirements of your projects.
  • Defining Milestones: This allows you to group the team tasks to organize and deliver your project at the target date.
  • Roadmaps: Help you visualize the tasks.
  • Security: Ensures only relevant team members have access to a task.
  • Reporting: Let’s you monitor the project’s progress and execution.
  • Product Integration: Using other tools to make certain tasks easier.

How to Create an Epic

There are 2 methods to Create an Epic

Method 1) Creating an epic from a new issue:

You can create an epic using the navigation menu. The steps are:

Step 1) Click the “Create” button at the top navigation bar.

How to Create an Epic

Step 2) “Create Issue” screen will be shown. Select “Epic” from the “Issue Type” dropdown.

How to Create an Epic

Method 2: Creating an Epic from the Epics panel:

You can also create an Epic from the Epics panel shown in “Backlog”. Follow these steps for this purpose:

Step 1) Click the “Backlog” option from the left side of the screen.

How to Create an Epic

Step 2) Click “Epics” from the epics panel.

How to Create an Epic

Step 3) Click “Create Issue in Epic”.

How to Create an Epic

How to add Story to an Epic

You can add stories to an epic in the following two ways:

Method 1) Add Story from the “Create Issue” Screen

Step 1) Click the “Create” button at the navigation bar.

How to add Story to an Epic

Step 2) Click on the “Issue Type” dropdown and select the issue type (other than epic).

How to add Story to an Epic

Method 2) Add Story from the Epics pane

Step 1) Click on the “Backlog” on the screen’s left side.

How to add Story to an Epic

Step 2) Click on “Epics” from Epics pane.

How to add Story to an Epic

Step 3) Click on “Create Issue in Epic”.

How to add Story to an Epic

How to Remove Stroy from an Epic

To remove a story from an Epic, follow these steps:

Step 1) Go to the “Backlog” page.

How to Remove Stroy from an Epic

Step 2) Select the Story that you want to delete and click the three dots sign shown on the right side of the screen.

How to Remove Stroy from an Epic

Step 3) Select “Delete” from the dropdown options.

How to Remove Stroy from an Epic

How to View Epic

All the information about a project’s epics is available on “Backlog” page. You can view the following information about epics from this page:

  • Epics screen: Go to “Backlog” and click on “Epics”. From this screen, you can view and manage the epics of your project.

How to Remove Stroy from an Epic

  • View issues in Epic: To view the issues/stories of an epic, click on the required epic’s name.

How to Remove Stroy from an Epic

How to End or Complete your Epic

Once all the tasks of an epic are completed, the epic is marked as complete. Follow these steps for this purpose:

Step 1) Click on “Backlog,” shown at the left of the screen.

How to End or Complete your Epic

Step 2) Click on “Epics” from the Epics panel.

How to End or Complete your Epic

Step 3) Select the epic that you need to mark as completed. Click on the dropdown and select the option “Mark as Done”.

How to End or Complete your Epic

BreakDown of Agile Epic

An agile Epic can be broken down into smaller user stories if you can manage and track them properly. This will help to maintain track of the project as well.

The number and size of epics in a project must be managed appropriately. Too big epics mean progress is slow, and too small epics mean you have to manage the backlog.

How to End or Complete your Epic

Consider the following points while breaking down the epics.

  • Story for User role: Create a separate user story for each user action or role.
  • Creating a story for steps: Break down the more extensive process into smaller steps and create stories for these steps.
  • Team Norms: The team culture will define whether the Story can be completed in a shorter time span or it’s a time-taking task.
  • Time Factor: Create user stories that can be completed in one sprint.

How to Measure Epic in Jira?

Measuring agile epics helps provide project insights and inform management about the progress. Burndown charts are a tool to visualize epics. These charts depict the estimated work and actual work done in an epic. The x-axis of the burndown chart shows the sprints, and the y-axis shows user stories.

Using the burndown chart, keeping track of the work is easy. So, team progress and pace can also be visualized, making the project’s work more transparent and predictable.

How to End or Complete your Epic

Why Are Epics Important in Jira?

Here are reasons why Epics is important in Jira:

  • With Epics, project outcomes are organized so stakeholders can better follow project progress.
  • Epics also provide an easy way to abstract the project’s status and quickly apprise the measurable outcomes to stakeholders.
  • Epics also allow teams to establish the priority goals and the necessary metrics to track such goals.
  • The user stories are arranged to allow for a detailed design before implementation.
  • It also helps the project team to optimize workflow and flexible decision-making as the project progresses.
  • Use of JIRA Epics helps DevOps teams to define and design their project via Epics, you can promote innovation and excellence for product design and development.

Summary

  • A Jira Epic can be defined as a a task/user story that can be broken down into several smaller user stories as per customers’ requirements
  • Any software project is a collection of epics where each epic contains further tasks and sub-tasks
  • Stories and Tasks belonging to the same epic are sometimes linked or co-dependent.
  • Key Features of an EPIC include Project Planning, Customizable Workflows, Milestones, Roadmaps, Security, and Reporting, amongst others.