top of page
  • Writer's pictureTacit Edge

What is an Epic in Product Management | Answer & Examples

Ever wondered what makes a project truly epic in the world of Product Management? Today, we unravel the mysteries surrounding Epics and dive into their significance in the intricate dance of product development. So, fasten your seatbelts as we embark on a journey to understand the essence of Epics and their role in shaping the product management landscape.


What is an Epic in Product Management


We get the question "what is an epic" all the time. It's an agile term used to describe an overarching goal or chunk of work in the development process. In Product Management, we prefer to use product vision and strategy over epics, but in agile environments and for Product Managers that are more delivery focused, epics are helpful.


Key Characteristics of an Epic:

  • Scope and Scale: Epics go beyond the granular details, encompassing large bodies of work.

  • Strategic Alignment: They serve as a bridge between high-level business initiatives and the detailed user stories, ensuring alignment with overarching goals.

  • Manageability: Despite their grandeur, Epics are designed to be manageable by breaking down extensive projects into meaningful and achievable components.

what is an epic in product management

Why Epics Matter in Product Management


Epics act as the panoramic lens through which projects are viewed, providing not just clarity but strategic insight. They align the collective efforts of cross-functional teams, fostering seamless communication and ensuring that the ship sails toward the desired destination.


Breaking Down Complexity:

In the realm of complexity, Epics act as navigational aids, helping teams break down large initiatives into manageable pieces. Imagine steering a ship through stormy waters; it's not about avoiding the waves but navigating them strategically.


Alignment with Business Goals:

Epics serve as the compass aligning development efforts with overarching business objectives. They ensure that every line of code, every design decision, and every user story contributes meaningfully to the larger vision. It's the art of connecting the dots in a vast sea of possibilities.


Industry-specific Epics:

In different industries, Epics take on unique forms. A Business Epic in e-commerce might involve overhauling the checkout process, while in healthcare software, it could mean implementing a new patient management system. The nature of Epics adapts to the industry landscape, shaping the narrative accordingly.

education & training for product managers

Different Types of Epics Explained


In the diverse tapestry of product development, Epics come in various shapes and sizes. Understanding these different types allows product managers to tailor their approach to specific needs.


Business Epics:

These are the strategic narratives that align with overall business goals. Think of them as the central plotline, guiding product development in harmony with the broader organizational vision.


Enabler Epics:

Enabler Epics focus on creating the necessary groundwork for other Epics to flourish. It's like setting the stage for a grand performance, ensuring that technical requirements and infrastructure are in place.


Exploration Epics:

In the ever-evolving landscape of innovation, Exploration Epics are the pioneers. They involve research, experimentation, and the quest for new opportunities, shaping the future narrative of product development.


Illustrative Examples:

  • Business Epic: Amazon's "Enhance Customer Checkout Experience"

  • Enabler Epic: Upgrading the security protocols of a healthcare software system

  • Exploration Epic: Researching and experimenting with new features for a mobile app

you belong in product management

How to Create Effective Epics


Crafting a compelling Epic in Product Management involves a strategic process that combines creativity, collaboration, and clear objectives. Let's break down the steps for product managers to create impactful Epics:


Step 1: Name the Epic

Before delving into the details, give your Epic a clear, concise title. This sets the tone for the strategic goals you aim to achieve. For example, if your overarching theme is to improve app signup, name your Epic something like "App Signup Experience." Having a standardized way of describing the strategy reduces confusion and aligns your team.


Example:

For the strategy of improving app signup, the product team names the Epic "App Signup Experience."


Step 2: Write a Narrative Explaining the Epic

Provide a short narrative that outlines who the persona is, the objective, and the value behind it. Use the template: "As a [type of user], I want to [enhance the app signup experience] so that [we increase the number of users who complete the signup process]." Include additional background information that supports the importance of the Epic.


Example:

"As a new customer, I want a seamless signup experience so that I can get value from the app faster. By solving this problem, we can increase the number of users who complete the signup process. Our research indicates current abandon rates during app signup are higher than the industry average. Data shows that our signup form contains more fields than industry average, contributing to higher abandonment. Enhancing the signup experience addresses these issues and improves user onboarding."


Step 3: Establish the Scope for the Epic

Define the boundaries of your Epic by establishing its scope. Clearly outline which aspects of app signup to focus on, which form fields to eliminate or keep, and any relocations or adjustments needed. This helps guide your team and keeps the work focused.


Example:

Scope for "App Signup Experience" Epic:

  • Focus on app signups for Product X

  • Eliminate unnecessary form fields, keeping only essential information

  • Optimize the signup flow for a smoother user experience

Step 4: Define Completion for the Epic

Specify when the Epic is considered complete and set acceptance criteria. This high-level list of capabilities ensures that your team understands the criteria for approval.


Great Product Managers empower teams to do this part of the epic collaboratively. Product managers lead with the who, what and why, and the how this problem is solved is defined collaboratively.


For our hypothetical example, acceptance criteria may include marketing supporting the final form, development demonstrating the new form captures leads, and tracking the abandon rate in the app.


Example:

Acceptance Criteria for "App Signup Experience" Epic:

  • Marketing supports the final form design

  • Development demonstrates the new form effectively captures leads

  • Leads seamlessly feed into the user database

  • The development team confirms tracking the abandon rate in the app after the signup flow optimization

Step 5: Break the Epic Down into Stories

Although technically the next phase, understanding how to write Epics naturally leads to writing user stories. This step involves breaking down the Epic into actionable tasks for developers in the upcoming sprint. It ensures a smooth transition from strategic planning to practical execution. This stage can be done by the technical team.


By following these steps, product managers can seamlessly navigate the Epic creation process, laying the groundwork for a successful product development journey.

Epic creation for product managers

Overcoming Challenges with Epics


In the epic saga of product management, challenges are inevitable. Facing them head-on requires adaptability, collaboration, and a willingness to refine the narrative.


Scope Creep and Clarity Challenges:

Common challenges include scope creep, where the Epic's boundaries blur, and clarity issues, where the narrative becomes muddled. Regular communication and ongoing refinement are the shields against these challenges. If you have a delivery partner like a Product Owner, Program Manager, or Project Manager, they can lead this.


The Art of Adaptability:

Adaptability is the hero in overcoming challenges. Embrace an iterative approach, refining Epics as the narrative unfolds, ensuring that the ship stays on course in ever-changing seas.


Example:

A gaming company facing scope creep in the Epic "Launch New Game Title" addressed the challenge by regularly reassessing priorities, refining the Epic, and ensuring continuous communication among teams.


Real-world Examples of Epics


In the vast landscape of product development, Epics have played pivotal roles in shaping the success stories of renowned companies.


Amazon's Checkout Revolution:

Amazon's "Enhance Customer Checkout Experience" Epic revolutionized online shopping. It involved user stories related to one-click purchasing, streamlined payment methods, and personalized recommendations, redefining the e-commerce experience.


Epic Success at a Tech Startup:

Imagine a tech startup revamping its e-learning platform. The Epic, "Revamp Learning Experience," resulted in an engaging platform with interactive modules, personalized learning paths, and seamless content delivery.


Accelerate Your Product Management Journey With Tacit Edge


Step into the world of product management with Tacit Edge, where we open doors to a realm of education, training, and certification programs designed just for you. Whether you're taking your first steps in product management or you're a seasoned pro, Tacit Edge welcomes you with learning opportunities meticulously crafted to match your unique stage in this exciting journey.



accelerate your product management journey

24 views0 comments
bottom of page