Epic Splitting Techniques

By Alex Yakyma.

We just finished the Business Epic page in Scaled Agile Framework recently and it has a bunch of useful approaches of how to split business epics into smaller items (sub-epics and features). Following are the key methods used. We split epics by...

  1. Product / Subsystem / Component
  2. Success Criteria (note that this is an analogue to user story acceptance criteria, however it stays at the higher level of abstraction and thus expresses business benefits rather than the requirements to the functionality. Hence the different name)
  3. Major Effort first
  4. Simple-to-Complex
  5. Market Segment / Customer / Class of User
  6. Defer System Qualities
  7. Risk Reduction / Opportunity Enablement
  8. Use Case Scenarios
 More detail and actual examples for these methods can be found in the original SAFe article on business epics.

Prior to that we published the Architecture Epic page which also has interesting considerations in terms of splitting and incremental implementation of large technical initiatives.