Introduction to epics

Epics are used to group features that share a common business objective. With epics, you can track and prioritize groups of work. Similar to features, you can also add key strategic elements like goals and initiatives to epics.

Epics are very flexible. They can be used to manage groups of features that reside in multiple workspaces across multiple releases. Or if you prefer, they can be used to manage groups of features within a single release.

Note: Depending on your workspace type, this article may refer to Aha! record types differently than your team does.

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When to consider using epics

  • Your product team is agile and you are looking for epics to group your stories.
  • Your marketing team has large objectives that will take several schedules to complete. You need a way to track these epics and view them on a roadmap. 
  • Your team currently uses strategic initiatives to group user stories but you would rather utilize initiatives for strategic themes and group user stories by epic instead.

For the purposes of this article, we will use the product management terminology of features, epics, and releases. Just remember that these records function the same way, even if you are working in a different workspace type

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Setup and configuration

To enable epics for your workspace:

  1. Navigate to Settings ⚙️ > Workspace > Configure > Epics.
  2. From there, you can select Enabled, Disabled, or Inherit from [parent line].

The default value is Inherit from [parent line], which means the setting is enabled or disabled based on the status of the Epics setting on the parent line. Once enabled, you can begin adding epics. 

To further customize epics:

  • Update the terminology from epics to any label that works better for your team.
  • Create custom statuses and workflows for epics on the Settings ⚙️ > Account page.
  • Customize the epic card design. Just like features, epics have their own customizable card design. They can also be scored using the same custom scorecards that are used on features.
  • Show epics and features on the same board by enabling the Show epics setting. When this setting is enabled, the epic name and feature reference ID will appear in a tab above the feature card. This setting is located on the features board by clicking the Customize cards icon, which opens the Customize feature and epic cards modal. The features workflow board also has its own customizable feature cards, which can be configured to show epics using the Customize view icon.
  • Show epic labels on the Features > Details page by enabling the Settings ⚙️ > Workspace > Configure > Customize record cards > Show epics setting.

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Use epics

Once you have enabled epics, you can add and manage epics from the Features > Board or the Features > Detail page. The toggle located on the features board in the upper-left corner switches between epics and features. When you toggle to epics, you can create a new epic by clicking Add epic or by clicking the More options button located next to each release name. 

Epics have Start dates and Due dates, but because epics can have child records — features — you can choose to have an epic's dates Calculate from features. If you select this (or if a workspace owner has set this as the Record dates default setting), your epic's Start date will be same as the earliest feature Start date, and its Due date will be the same as the latest feature Due date. If a feature's dates change in such a way that it affects your epic's dates (even through an integration), your epic's dates will update automatically.

Note: If an integration updates an epic's Start date or Due date, the calculation type will change back to Enter manually, and updates to child features' dates that you make in Aha! will not update the epic.  

You can configure epics further by adding information to them, or by opening an epic's detail drawer and selecting the More options button. 

  • Add to initiative to link your epic to an initiative. 
  • Link to another record to create a record link.
  • Create related idea to create a linked idea with your choice of idea's visibility.
  • Convert to initiative to convert your epic to an initiative. Epics and initiatives both organize large bodies of work, so it is not uncommon to discover that what you thought was a theme of work is substantial enough to upgrade to an initiative. 
    Note: Converting records may cause them to lose information.
  • Time tracking history breaks down the estimates and time tracking applied to your epic. 
  • Use features estimates generates an effort estimate for your epic based on the individual estimates of its child features. 
  • History shows you an audit log of changes made to the epic.
  • Add progress field adds a progress field to your epic. You choose from several different methods for calculating your epic's completion progress and visualize its progress in roadmaps. 
  • Add custom field adds a custom field to your epic layout. You can also create custom fields in Settings ⚙️ > Account > Custom fields, of course, but this option is useful for times when you realize you need to add a custom field but do not want to leave the page and lose context.
  • Edit custom field layout pulls up the epic layout, which lets you add, remove, or rearrange existing custom fields. Again, you could edit your epic's layout in Settings ⚙️ > Account > Custom layouts, but this option lets you edit your epic layout without leaving the epic itself. 
  • Add automation rule takes you to Settings ⚙️ > Workspace > Automation, where you can add a new automation rule. Automation rules, available to Enterprise+ customers, are useful for streamlining your workflows and driving consistency across your workspace. 
    Note: This option will only appear in the More options button for Enterprise+ customers.
  • Copy epic copies your epic, including requirements and to-dos, and to-do assignees (but without to-do due dates). 
  • Delete epic deletes your epic.  

Epics can be prioritized the same way that you prioritize features on the features board.

Although epics reside within the workspace and release where they will be completed, you can assign an epic to child features from multiple workspaces and releases

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Report on epics

Once you have your epics defined, you can create reports to share with your stakeholders. The toggle that appears on the features roadmap allows you to visualize the epics that will be shipping in upcoming releases. You can also build custom analytics reports and roadmaps with data from epics.

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Show epics on the Gantt chart

It can be helpful to visualize epics in a Gantt view to see how your releases affect your epics. Navigate to Releases > Gantt to see this view.

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To show epics on the Gantt chart, click the Epics button at the top of the page. You can customize this view just as you can the releases view, including the ability to add dependencies between features and epics. 

There are two differences to note: 

  • You can choose to color the bars by Workspace or Release as well as StatusAssignee, and Type
  • You can see a new field at the top of the Gantt view called Release names. Click this to see the Release dates of the releases in the date range you have chosen. 

Features with and without Start date and End dates will appear in the epics view, at the start of an epic with hazy borders to their bars.

  • Assign dates to a feature by clicking and dragging its bar on the Gantt view or by clicking on it to open the feature detail drawer.
  • Hide the feature from the Gantt view by clicking the More options button beside the feature's name and selecting Remove from Gantt. This will not remove the feature from the epic, it will just hide it from the view. To display the feature again, click the More options button beside the epic and select Show hidden feature

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Use epics in integrations

Epics are available to integrate with any 2.0 integration.

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