Stories are small and cute, but not all Backlog Items are like that. Some Backlog Items are large, ambiguous, and confusing. These Backlog Items are actually Epics.
Many people think that Epics are simply large Stories, but we like to define an Epic as a Backlog Item that can’t be agreed to by the Team. We like this definition because it points out that Planning is based on agreement, not size. An Epic is a Backlog Item that contains at least one Story, even if the Story is just an investigatory one. Usually, a functional Epic contains analysis Stories that produce functional Stories that also belong to the Epic. For Epics that represent Issues or Risks, the internal Stories represent actions the Team will take in order to investigate or mitigate the Issue or Risk.
The Team could be unable to agree to a Backlog Item for a variety of reasons. In our never ending efforts to make your Planning easier, here are 4 reasons a Backlog Item may in fact be an Epic.
Frequently, a Backlog Item transforms from a Story to an Epic during Planning when the Team fails to agree to do it. This is not unusual, because the Team can’t know whether or not it can agree to it for sure until it knows what Done means for the Backlog Item, how much Technical Debt is involved, who is available to actually work on it, and so on. This is where CURB helps.
By encouraging the Team to use CURB to assess each Backlog Item, the Team will organically determine if they are actually planning for a Story or for an Epic. And, that makes Planning a whole lot easier.
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As Always, Stay Agile.