Jira Epic vs Story: Comparison Guide to Shed Light on the Basic Jira Terms

April 21, 2023 · 12 min read

We’re starting a series of articles about Jira terms, a sort of agile vocabulary, for all sorts of project managers, product managers, and, in general, Jira users and Jira enthusiasts.

In the near future, we’re going to describe the topics of Jira swimlanes, Jira dependencies, Jira subtasks, etc. Let’s not reveal all our cards too much.

In this Jira Epic vs Story guide, we’re describing the difference between a user story vs epic, also known as Jira user story and Jira epic.

We will introduce you to the term Jira user story, and Jira epic, define what it is used for, why every team leading business with the help of Jira needs it, how to create a user story, and how to view Jira Epics, step by step.

Why Jira matters

Jira is a popular project management and issue tracking software developed by Atlassian. It is widely used by software development teams to plan, track, and manage their projects, as well as to collaborate and communicate with team members and stakeholders.

There are several reasons why Jira is a popular choice for software development teams. First, it provides a flexible and customizable platform that can be adapted to meet the unique needs of different teams and projects.

It also allows teams to easily manage and prioritize tasks and issues, as well as to track progress and identify potential bottlenecks or roadblocks in the development process.

In addition, Jira integrates with a wide range of other tools and services commonly used in software development, such as code repositories, continuous integration and deployment tools, and collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams.

This makes it easier for teams to work seamlessly and efficiently across different workflows and tools.

What is an Epic?

Let’s sum up the epic definition. "Epic" in Jira is a term used to describe a large body of work that can be broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces called "stories".

An Epic is essentially a high-level user story that represents a large feature or initiative that cannot be completed in a single iteration or sprint.

Epics in Jira are used to group related stories together, provide a high-level view of the work that needs to be done, and help stakeholders understand the scope of a project.

They are often used in agile software development methodologies like Scrum or Kanban to plan and track progress towards larger goals.

In Jira, Epics can be created as issues and can have their own fields, workflows, and dependencies. They can also be linked to other issues, such as stories, tasks, and bugs, to help create a hierarchical structure that enables teams to better manage their work and track progress.

Why are Jira Epics needed?

Jira Epics are needed to provide a way to organize and manage large and complex projects in Jira. An Epic is a large body of work that can be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks, and is typically used to group related issues together under a common theme or goal.

Epics can also help to identify dependencies between different tasks or issues, and allow for more accurate estimation of project timelines and resource requirements.

In addition, Jira Epics provide a way to prioritize work and allocate resources effectively. By grouping related issues together under an epic, teams can focus on the most important tasks and ensure that they are working towards a common goal. This can help to improve productivity, reduce delays, and ensure that the project stays on track.

What is a story?

A user story is a brief, but comprehensive explanation of a software feature that a user wants to be able to perform in a software system.

It is typically written from the perspective of the end-user or customer and focuses on their needs, goals, and expected outcomes.

User stories are often used in agile software development methodologies as a way to facilitate communication between the development team and the stakeholders, and to ensure that the software being developed meets the needs of the users.

A typical story in Jira consists of a brief statement that describes the user's goal, followed by a set of acceptance criteria that define what constitutes a successful implementation of the feature.

What are the main purposes of the Jira user story?

Jira user story, also known as agile user story, should be presented in a clear way, be customer-oriented and aimed to create the problem-statement.

It will be much easier for the team to plan consistently if a user story is described clearly before planning a sprint, and will make the work process more understandable and less hassle.

When the team gathers to understand and build a story map, they gain a common view and understanding of the customer activities during the journey through the app or feature. This minimizes the risk of misinterpretations and facilitates the discussion open to various ideas and points of view.

1. Helps identify risks and dependencies

The visual representation of the story map helps teams identify potential impediments, risks and dependencies that could impact successful product delivery.

2. Customers' goals come first

User story shows the weak side of the product and lets the existing or potential customer understand more and deliver the best possible solution.

3. Well planned and prioritized

A user story makes the development process consistent and helps to understand the problem and inquiry of the end user. By decomposing large items into smaller ones, they can then be grouped according to their perceived value.

Criteria of a good user story and a user story template

Let’s define three main points that should include any Jira user story

  • The subject of the problem
  • The audience who face the problem
  • The solution

Here's an ordinary user story example:

"As a frequent traveler, I want to be able to easily book flights, hotels, and rental cars all in one place, so that I can save time and effort in planning my trips."

This user story expresses a need that a traveler has for a platform that can offer a seamless booking experience for all travel-related services. It communicates the "who," "what," and "why" of the user's needs, which can guide the development of a solution that meets those needs.

How to add Jira issues to Epic?

In Jira, an Epic is a special type of issue that can contain other issues, which are referred to as its child issues. By adding issues to an Epic, you are essentially making them child issues of that Epic.

This can be useful for organizing and tracking work on larger initiatives that involve multiple tasks or user stories.

To add Jira issues to an Epic, you can follow these steps:

  1. Open the Jira project that contains the Epic
  2. Open the Epic that you want to add the issues to
  3. Click on the "Add a child issue" button within the Epic
  4. Select the existing issues you want to add or create the new one
  5. Once added, you can see the added issues listed under the "Child Issues" section

How to view Jira Epics?

Epics are a powerful feature of Jira that allow you to group related issues and track progress on larger initiatives.

By viewing Epics, you can get a high-level overview of the work being done in your project, and understand how individual issues fit into the larger picture.

To view Jira Epics, you can follow these steps:

  1. In the side menu, click on "Backlog".
  2. This panel will show a list of all Epics in the project.
  3. You can click on any Epic to open its details page, which will show more information about the Epic, such as its description, priority, due date, and linked issues.
  4. From the Epic details page, you can also navigate to the list of issues that are linked to that Epic, by clicking on the "Issues" tab.
  5. Additionally, you can use the search function in Jira to find specific Epics by their name, summary, or other details.

How to visualize Jira Epics on Timeline?

Basic Roadmap

There are several applications to visualize Epics on timeline in Jira. You could have seen dozens of Jira addons in the Atlassian marketplace, as well as the built-in basic Jira roadmap tool. And, one more solution – on a premium base – Advanced Jira roadmaps.

The crucial difference between the basic and advanced version of Jira roadmap, except the paid principle of Advanced Roadmaps, is that the basic roadmap is limited in terms of features and can only visualize epics rather than all issue types.

To show Jira epics in the basic roadmap software in Jira, you can follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to your Jira project and select "Roadmap" from the left-hand sidebar.
  2. Click on the "Configure" button in the top right corner of the Roadmap screen.
  3. In the "Configure Roadmap" dialog, make sure all needed visualization options are chosen.
  4. Click on the "Apply" button to save your changes and update the Roadmap view.

Once you have configured the Roadmap, you will see Epics displayed on the roadmap view. Adjust their position on the timeline and use the zoom controls to adapt the level of detail displayed.

Advanced Roadmap

If you decide to experiment with the premium version of Advanced Jira roadmaps, start your free trial first. After that, you will have a 30 days of testing period to see if its benefits are what you’re looking for.

When comparing the Basic Roadmap and the Advanced version, it’s important to see the difference to understand what value you get with the paid version. Here are the main points:

  • Multiple teams and projects

While the basic version will let you plan for a single team only, the advanced one works across multiple teams and projects, so you can have a single view of all your initiatives.

  • Dependencies

As Advanced Roadmap works across teams and projects, the dependencies also adjust to this rule.

  • Team capacity

Advanced Roadmap includes the capabilities for capacity management. The basic roadmap doesn’t support this option at all.

  • Scenarios

With Advanced Roadmaps you will be able to create multiple versions of your roadmap to account for different options or best and worst-case scenarios.

How to visualize Jira Epics with Planyway addon?

Speaking about addons for managing Jira Epics, Planyway stays the leading and most convenient, as well as one of the most functional compromises among other Jira add-ons. In short, Planyway is an all-in-one team planner for smart resource planning, project planning, and time tracking.

With Planyway, you can visualize all issue types including epics and choose to see only epics or other issues like stories, tasks, or bugs with filters.

The best way to keep track of epics in Planyway is to visualize your workflow on the timeline view and choose to group it by Epics. Then, you will get a clear structure of what issues your epics include, how long they take, and when they are meant to be done.

Do not forget that you can connect multiple Jira projects to a single view to manage epics across projects on one page.

🧮 Tap here to calculate the price for your team

How to create Jira stories?

By creating stories, you can track progress on the work being done in your project and ensure that your team is aligned on the goals and objectives of the project.

In Agile development, user stories are one of the main means of communicating requirements to developers and development teams. To create a Jira Story, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the "Create" button in the top menu bar and select "Story" from the dropdown menu.

  2. Fill in the necessary fields, such as summary, description, and assignee. The summary should be a brief, descriptive title for the story, while the description should provide more details about what the story entails and what needs to be done.

  3. Assign the story to a member of your team, by selecting their name from the "Assignee" dropdown menu.

  4. If necessary, add labels to the story by entering them in the "Labels" field. Labels can help you organize and search for stories later on.

  5. Choose the appropriate priority level for the story, based on its urgency and impact on the project.

  6. Optionally, you can also link the story to an Epic or add it to a sprint or backlog.

  7. Click "Create" to create the story and add it to the project.

Jira stories in Planyway

As already mentioned, Planyway lets you visualize your project in different ways. If you’d like to keep track of user stories only, choose this option in filters. Then, you can group your timeline by Users, Projects, or Epics to manage data from the desired angle.

Curious Facts about Jira story and Epic

🧐 User story is a theme definition used in Agile software development

🧐 In agile project management, stories are generally more commonly used than epics. Though the frequency of use for stories or epics may vary depending on the specific project, team, and organization using Atlassian's tools

🧐 As of 2021, the Atlassian Marketplace offered over 3,000 apps and add-ons for Jira, designed to help with managing Jira epics and stories. One of the most reliable is Planyway.

Jira story vs Epic in Jira: Main Outcome

In this article, we’ve listed the core differences between epic vs story in Jira, or agile story vs Jira epic, if you want.

Once again, Jira stories and epics are integral to agile development, and can be organized into different versions or sprints. They help teams prioritize and track progress towards their project goals.

Jira stories are smaller units of work enough to be completed within a single iteration or sprint, while jira epics planning is a bit more complex, because epics are bulkier and typically span multiple sprints or iterations.

Learn how to manage Jira stories and epics and master your skills in agile project management.

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