What is an Epic in Jira?

by Jocelyn Alma

In the realm of project management and agile methodologies, Jira stands as one of the most powerful tools. It helps teams manage their projects and workflows efficiently. Among the numerous features Jira offers, the concept of an “epic” is a pivotal one. But what exactly is an epic in Jira?

An epic in Jira is a large body of work that can be broken down into smaller tasks, often called stories or issues. It is a way to group related tasks that share a common objective. Epics provide a way to organize and manage these tasks in a cohesive manner.

Why Use Epics?

Using epics in Jira has several advantages:

Organizational Clarity: Epics help in organizing the work into meaningful groups. This makes it easier to track progress.

Efficient Tracking: With epics, teams can monitor the progress of larger goals. It allows them to see how smaller tasks contribute to the bigger picture.

Enhanced Communication: Epics improve communication within the team. They provide a clear overview of what is being worked on and why.

Better Planning: Epics facilitate better planning and forecasting. They help in identifying dependencies and potential bottlenecks early.

See Also: Why Should We Read Epics?

Creating an Epic in Jira

Creating an epic in Jira is straightforward. Here are the steps:

Access the Project: Navigate to the project where you want to create the epic.

Select the Backlog or Issues Tab: Go to the backlog or issues tab, where you manage your tasks.

Create a New Epic: Click on the option to create a new epic. Fill in the necessary details such as the epic name, description, and any relevant labels.

Save the Epic: Once all details are entered, save the epic. It will now appear in your backlog or issues list.

Breaking Down an Epic

An epic is a large task, so it needs to be broken down into smaller, manageable pieces. Here’s how to do it:

Identify the Stories: Determine the individual tasks or stories that make up the epic.

Create Stories in Jira: Create each story in Jira, linking them to the epic.

Prioritize and Order: Prioritize the stories and arrange them in the order they need to be completed.

Assign and Track: Assign the stories to team members and track their progress.

Managing Epics

Managing epics in Jira involves regular review and adjustment. Here are some best practices:

Regular Updates: Keep the epic updated with the latest progress. Ensure all related stories are linked and tracked.

Review Dependencies: Regularly review dependencies between stories. Make adjustments as necessary to avoid bottlenecks.

Use Jira Reports: Utilize Jira’s reporting features to monitor the
progress of your epics. Reports can help identify areas that need attention.

Using Epics for Agile Teams

For agile teams, epics are essential. They align with the agile principle of breaking down work into manageable chunks. Here’s how agile teams can use epics effectively:

Sprint Planning: Use epics to guide sprint planning. Break down epics into stories that can be completed within a sprint.

Backlog Grooming: Regularly groom the backlog, ensuring that epics and their stories are up-to-date.

Retrospectives: During retrospectives, review the progress of epics. Identify what worked well and what didn’t.

Epics vs. Stories vs. Tasks

In Jira, there are different levels of tasks. Understanding the difference between epics, stories, and tasks is crucial:

Epics: Large bodies of work that encompass multiple stories.

Stories: Smaller tasks that contribute to the completion of an epic.

Tasks: Even smaller units of work that are often part of a story.

Best Practices for Using Epics in Jira

To get the most out of using epics in Jira, follow these best practices:

Define Clear Objectives: Each epic should have a clear, well-defined objective. This ensures that all related stories and tasks are aligned with the goal.

Regular Review: Regularly review and update the epic and its associated stories. This keeps the work relevant and aligned with the project goals.

Collaborate: Encourage collaboration among team members. Ensure everyone understands the purpose of the epic and their role in it.

Use Labels and Components: Utilize labels and components to further categorize and organize epics. This makes it easier to filter and search for specific epics.

Monitor Progress: Use Jira’s tracking and reporting tools to monitor the progress of epics. This helps in identifying issues early and making necessary adjustments.

Common Challenges with Epics

While epics are a powerful tool, they come with their own set of challenges. Here are some common issues teams face and how to address them:

Scope Creep: Epics can easily become too large if not properly managed. Regularly review the scope and ensure it remains realistic.

Dependency Management: Managing dependencies between stories can be complex. Use Jira’s dependency tracking features to stay on top of this.

Prioritization: Prioritizing stories within an epic can be challenging. Regularly reassess priorities based on the current project needs.

Communication: Ensuring all team members are on the same page can be difficult. Regular meetings and updates can help maintain clarity.

Epics and Roadmaps

Jira’s roadmap feature integrates seamlessly with epics. Here’s how to use them together effectively:

Create a Roadmap: Use Jira’s roadmap feature to create a visual representation of your project timeline.

Link Epics to the Roadmap: Add your epics to the roadmap, aligning them with your project milestones.

Monitor Progress: Use the roadmap to monitor the progress of your epics. Adjust the timeline as needed based on the progress of the stories and tasks.

Advanced Features for Epics

Jira offers several advanced features that can enhance the use of epics:

Custom Fields: Add custom fields to your epics to capture additional information relevant to your project.

Automation: Use Jira’s automation features to streamline the management of epics. For example, automatically update the status of an epic when all its stories are completed.

Integrations: Integrate Jira with other tools your team uses. This can improve communication and collaboration.

Real-Life Examples of Using Epics in Jira

Let’s look at some real-life examples of how different teams use epics in Jira:

Software Development Team: A software development team uses epics to manage large features. Each epic represents a feature, and the stories are the tasks needed to develop and test the feature.

Marketing Team: A marketing team uses epics to manage campaigns. Each epic represents a campaign, with stories for tasks like content creation, social media posts, and email marketing.

Operations Team: An operations team uses epics to manage large operational projects. Each epic represents a project, with stories for tasks like procurement, implementation, and training.


Epics in Jira are a powerful tool for organizing and managing large bodies of work. They provide structure and clarity, making it easier to track progress and communicate within the team. By following best practices and leveraging Jira’s advanced features, teams can effectively use epics to achieve their project goals. Understanding and using epics in Jira not only improves project management but also enhances team collaboration and productivity.

In conclusion, an epic in Jira is more than just a task; it is a strategic tool that brings order and efficiency to project management. By breaking down large goals into smaller, manageable tasks, teams can ensure that they stay on track and achieve their objectives. Whether you are managing a software development project, a marketing campaign, or an operational initiative, using epics in Jira can help you stay organized and focused on your goals.

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