Epics, User Stories, and Story Points are three terms that are widely used in Agile Project Management and some of its methodologies, like XP (eXtreme Programming) and Scrum.
But if you haven’t worked on agile projects, then Epics, User Stories, and Story Points may be confusing terms. Let me explain.
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A user story describes something a user wants. It is a simple description of a product requirement, in terms of what the product must be able to do…. And for whom.
So, they represent features that a client or user expects from the project. Together, user stories that have not been built by the project team form the Product Backlog.
They are usually documented on cards that typically contain:
- A title
- A unique ID
- An estimate of the work required (usually in Story Points)
- A description of what the feature needs to achieve
- Maybe a list of tasks (like WBS elements) that are needed to create the product or feature
User Story Description
The description will usually define the scope and quality requirements and may often be articulated in a form similar to this one:
- As a … (user/persona)
- I want to …(action)
- So that … (benefit)
And they may also have a validation test like this:
- When I … (action)
- This happens … (outcome)
An epic is nothing more than a big user story. Often, they are described as ‘over-sized’ user stories, because they are too large to complete in one sprint or iteration. They are a higher-level story that is really a group of closely related user stories. So, epics are usually split into user stories that represent smaller product features. There is no definitive threshold to distinguish a big story from a small epic.
A theme is a collection of user stories that go together in some way – they have a ‘thematic’ connection to one another.
Story Points are unitless measures of the amount of effort needed to complete a user story. What matters is not the scale of effort in story points but the relative values between the sizes of each user story.
Estimating Story Points
Estimates of relative numbers of story points depend most often on:
- The amount of work
- The complexity of the work required
- The risk or uncertainty of that work
One way of estimating story size is Planning Poker – I made a video about that a while back.
Carefully curated video recommendations for you, that answer the question, What is…
- Agile Project Management?
- the Agile Triangle? – Value, Quality, and Constraints
- Planning Poker?
What Kit does a Project Manager Need?
I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own.
Note that the links are affiliated.
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