A large user story that awaits decomposition into smaller stories prior to implementation. When an epic story works its way up the backlog, it is usually so decomposed. Epics are sometimes far off on the development horizon and have lower priority.

In the scrum framework stories that are sprint ready must be small enough that they can be confidently implemented within the timebox of a single sprint.

NB: One can easily be tempted to associate the term ‘epic’ with importance; in Agile, epic relates only to size.

Background of the Term

As it relates to agile methodologies, Mike Cohn coined the term epic in his book User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development. Chapter 2 of that book is available here as a pdf, in which there is discussion of epics.

Further Learning:

Agile Alliance | Glossary | Epic

Don’t Finish Your Epics! Deliver More Value Instead.

User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development

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8 Responses to Epic

  1. Pingback: Planning for the year to come – life list | The Beginning of an Unusual Life

  2. Khalid Mehmood says:

    To understand epic please review below examples.

    For HR team an epic may be named as a “Q1 Hiring”. to find how many new resources hired.

    For Support team considering deployment of ITIL. Epic name “FLR” can be used to identify how many issues resolved by providing First Level Resolution.

    • Khalid, I’m not sure these are relevant examples. An Epic is a large body of work that the project owner and team have identified but are not ready to work on. If you were building a software game you might have “Multi-player support” as an Epic since it’s a feature the product owner would like to include but it involves far reaching design and implementation considerations. Another example might be an accounting software application that has an Epic of “Smart phone support”.

  3. ViMethod says:

    Is there any relevance between a Theme and an Epic?

  4. Chris Sims says:


    Originally, an epic was a single large story. A theme was a collection of related stories. These days, the meanings are often interchanged. I suspect this is because some of the popular ‘agile project management’ software products use the terms backwards. As long as all the people you work use the words to mean the same thing, all will be fine. πŸ™‚



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