Where epics fail
October 26, 2022Many epics are waterfall projects in disguise.
I’m not a big fan of epics. Not poems. I have no real opinion on those. I’m, of course, talking about those items in our backlog that are bigger than a story.
This came up recently in a conversation about the ideal size for an epic, and my response was “0”.
So why don’t I like epics?
Well, I’m not prepared to say that the concept is inherently flawed, but I’ve never seen it used in a way that I think is healthy. In my experience, epics have usually, perhaps always, represented one of two things:
- An ambiguous, undefined, or on-going iniative. These epics usually have titles like “Improve performance”
- A waterfall project in disguise. This variety usually represents a large task that just hasn’t been properly sliced to deliver iterative value. If such tasks would be properly sliced, the need for an epic is usually eliminated.
What is your experience with epics? Have you ever seen them used effectively in an iterative or agile environment?
Reader response: The downward spiral of manual acceptance testing
Lack of unit testing drives the need for manual testing. Since testing is bunched up, development is as well.
When story points become irrelevant
If you work in small enough batches, you'll never care if your story is "worth" 8, 3, or 233 points.
Predictability is overrated
Unless you're betting on a horse race, knowing exactly when a thing will happen usually doesn't provide business value.