In the context of agile project management and software development, an Epic is a large, high-level user story or initiative that represents a significant piece of work. Epics are used to capture and manage large-scale features or requirements that cannot be easily implemented within a single iteration or sprint. They serve as placeholders for major deliverables, allowing teams to break down complex work into smaller, manageable pieces called user stories.

Key characteristics of an Epic include:

  1. Size and Complexity: Epics are larger and more complex than typical user stories. They often require more effort and time to complete, spanning multiple sprints or iterations.
  2. Business Value: Epics represent significant value to the business or stakeholders, addressing critical needs or strategic objectives.
  3. User-Centric: Like user stories, Epics focus on the end-users’ needs, describing the desired outcomes from their perspective.
  4. Independent and Negotiable: Epics can be prioritized, modified, or even split into smaller user stories based on project needs and changing requirements.
  5. Visible on the Product Backlog: Epics reside on the product backlog and are managed alongside other user stories, features, and tasks.

When an Epic is ready to be worked on, it undergoes a process called “Epic decomposition” or “Epic splitting,” where it is broken down into smaller, more manageable user stories with well-defined acceptance criteria. These user stories can then be prioritized and assigned to specific sprints for development.

Using Epics in agile project management allows teams to maintain flexibility in their planning and adapt to changing business needs while ensuring that major features and strategic objectives are properly accounted for in the development process. Epics help balance the need for long-term vision and the ability to deliver incremental value in iterative development cycles.

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