Epic Lead Checklist

epkatz

There are many definitions of what an epic is but I like to think of it as a user story that is too large to be delivered at once and will span longer than the average sprint length. A sprint is about the length of time that a team can hold context in their head without putting an epic around it and being more formal around ownership. Less than a sprint of work and you can (if you choose) keep them as a few small tactical stories without using this guide. Another dimension of an epic is how many dependencies it might have. An epic is an easy abstraction to talk about work with another team.

Some time ago I put together an epic checklist with my team. We’ve continued to add to it as we take on new projects. I’d like to share that checklist in the hopes that other teams will find it useful and save them some of the pain we went through learning these lessons. In certain places, I add additional notes to explain that item. The checklist is meant to be as short as possible so that it may be read through quickly and often.

Note: I also highly recommend the Tech Lead Expectations for Engineering Projects by Gergely Orosz. I refer to it often.

Preamble

To facilitate larger efforts, we group tasks into a structure called an epic. Every epic should have one engineering point person who takes the project from ideation to deployment and maintenance. The epic lead is ultimately accountable for the engineering success of a project. This checklist sets the expectations of the epic lead and their responsibilities through the lifecycle of the epic. Many of the tasks in the checklist can be safely ignored when not relevant. A good epic lead will delegate many of the responsibilities in the checklist but ensure they are followed through.

The checklist

Gathering Project Requirements

Planning Epics & Creating Stories

Implementation

Testing / QA

Deploying

Monitoring plan