People often (myself included!) get confused about the difference between Agile Themes, Epics and User Stories.
Here’s a simple explanation of what they are and a diagram showing how they relate to one another.
A Theme is a top-level objective that may span projects and products. Themes may be broken down into sub-themes, which are more likely to be product-specific. At its most granular form, a Theme may be an Epic.
Themes can be used at both Programme and Project Level to drive strategic alignment and communicate a clear direction.
An Agile Epic is a group of related User Stories. You would be unlikely to introduce an Epic into a sprint without first breaking it down into it’s component User Stories so to reduce uncertainty.
Epics can also be used at a both Programme and Project Level – Read more using Epic Boards to manage programmes and projects.
Agile User Stories
A User story is an Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimatable, Small, Testable requirement (“INVEST Acronym”). Despite being Independent i.e. they have no direct dependencies with another requirements, User stories may be clustered into Epics when represented on a Product Roadmap.
User Stories are great for Development Teams and Product Managers as they are easy to understand, discuss and prioritise – they are more commonly used at Sprint-level. User Stories will often be broken down into Tasks during the Sprint Planning Process – that is unless the stories are small enough to consume on their own.
Read more about Scrum Backlogs and Stories on Agile101.net
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