Learn best practices for Epics including how to use Epics, how much work an Epic should include, and how long an Epic should take to complete.
An Epic is a collection of Stories representing a larger body of work or feature.
In some project management tools, Epics are extraneous or a “nice to have”, but in Shortcut, Epics are key to organizing your work. If you are moving from Jira to Shortcut, you will be using Epics in a similar way to how you were using Projects in Jira.
An Epic has a good size when it covers an achievable goal – “Add Slack integration to Custom Fields”, for example – while being somewhere between 1-4 weeks worth of work.
Focusing on an achievable goal ensures that our conversations in the Epic stay focused on the problem we’re trying to solve or feature we’re trying to build, while also ensuring the tool can communicate our progress towards that goal for us, which gives us more time to achieve that goal.
Tip: if you’d like a place to put all of your miscellaneous bug fixes, quick wins, etc., use Labels and a shared Space on the Stories page to see these all in one place. Now, without any infinite-length Epics hanging around, your Epics page is an easy, quick glance at all of the projects your team is working on!
Aiming for the work to take less than 4 weeks helps us ensure that the goal of the Epic is achievable, and guides us to break the work down sufficiently well that we can feel confident it’ll be done when we estimate it’ll be done.
Conversely, aiming for the work to take a week or more is a rough guide for getting the overhead of an Epic to pay for itself. That said, if you’ve got a small handful of Stories, that will likely take less than a week, all needed to achieve the same goal, and you’d like a place to have discussions about that goal, and communicate progress quickly, then go ahead and make an Epic!
If you’re wondering how you could know whether an Epic will take less than four weeks, breaking your stories down into 1-2 day chunks is a pretty good way to boost your estimate strength, as an estimate for a day’s worth of work is likely to be accurate (while an estimate of multiple days, a week, or multiple weeks is likely to be inaccurate, and more so the larger the estimate is).
Epics are made up of all the Stories or individual pieces of work that go into completing that feature. All the work that goes into designing, building, and launching should all be Stories. Breaking your work down into 1-2 day Stories. Breaking it down this way allows you to show progress, celebrate wins, and get ahead of bottlenecks. On the Epics page, there are reports that show the Burndown Chart, Velocity Chart, Cycle Time / Lead Time Chart, and Cumulative Flow Diagram.