Jira Epic, Story or Task: What to Use and When

Let’s talk about Epics, Stories, and Tasks for a minute. Yes, those in Jira. When working in Jira, you will come across various names, such as Epic, Story, or a Task. In this article, we will explain the difference between each and will provide you with examples of how to use them.

What is an Epic in Jira?

An Epic is a large body of work that can be broken down into many smaller pieces of work – Stories.

Example of an Epic:

For example, you want to launch a new website with your design and development teams. To launch it, you will need to organize your work and Epics and Stories are great when it comes to managing work across many teams. So to launch a website, you need to create the design, write the content, code and test the website. In this case, building the website is an Epic, all other aspects like writing copy or coding the website would be Stories.

What is a Story in Jira?

Stories, also known as “User stories” are the requirements written from the end-user perspective and smaller pieces of work within an Epic. In other words, a Story is a user-facing benefit that could be explicitly verified. They start with a sentence that describes what we would like to do as the user of the product. The screenshot below shows what a typical Story can look like.

Another example of a Story would be:

As the user of an employment management platform, I need access to a vertical view of my Employee Dashboard when I’m using the mobile app so that I can access the information easily.

Stories are meant to explain how a software feature will provide value to the user, and they give more context to the dev team. It’s also important to remember that Stories are not system requirements.

What is a Jira Task?

Tasks in Jira are all the bits and pieces of work that have to be done to make the Story happen, such as research, validation, implementation. In the world of software development Tasks define all the related work that has to be done to complete the Story.

Example of a Task:

In general, creating a “Subscribe for a newsletter” component and adding it to a website is a Story. A Task for it would be to embed a Mailchimp subscription form. Implementing and validating it would also be a Task.

Jira Epic vs Story vs Epics 

As mentioned earlier, Epics are great for grouping Stories. Now, let’s try to explain the difference between Epics, Stories and Tasks based on real-life examples. 

For example, a birthday party is an Epic, the cake is a Story. To throw the party, it’s nice to have a cake, right? Or, a vacation is an Epic, booking a hotel is a Story. Also, house repair might be an Epic, but electricity, design, and security are Stories.

Another great example would be that one based on a book where:

  • An Epic can be a chapter in a book in which there are many actors. Each of them has a specific role and takes actions to achieve the desired outcome, i.e. throwing a party for a friend.
  • A Story is when you have only one actor that does at least one thing to achieve a goal, i.e. order the cake and pick it up.
  • Finally, a Task is where you have only one actor who performs one role, i.e. split the cake into pieces.

Alternative to Tasks and Sub-tasks

In a world full of hurry, we value convenient solutions that allow us to save time pretty much in every aspect because time is money – especially when it comes to managing work. Did you know that you can add Tasks to a Story faster than linking plenty of separate Tasks to a single Story one by one? Smart Checklists for Jira is the perfect alternative for Jira Tasks allowing you to quickly describe the work that needs to be done by your dev team – all in a single Story.

All it takes is just a few clicks to install Smart Checklists from Jira. Once that’s done, you will see the tab in the center part of the screen for both existing and any new Story that you will create.

How to Use Smart Checklist for Jira as an Alternative to Tasks?

Using Smart Checklists for Jira is very simple and intuitive.

Hit Open Smart Checklist and click on the Add checklist item input to start adding the first one. Anything that you enter inside that input can be treated as a Task linked to the Story you’re adding it to.

Smart Checklist leaves plenty of room when it comes to flexibility – you can add items to the list one by one or you can choose the Fullscreen Editor when you can add and edit the entire list at once. Click the Pen icon to open the Editor. This Formatting Guide that supports Markdown features will help you understand how to style your list items:

–   Means “To Do”

+   Means “Done”

~    Means “In Progress”

x    Means “Cancelled”

#    Is the List Header

* Bullet Point

> * Bullet Point Nested

There’s even more to that – specific items on the list can be assigned to teammates via Mentions, and you can even give dates for deadlines. But that’s not the end – since Smart Checklist lets you create bullet-point lists, you can use them to represent Sub-tasks, such as shown below.

As soon as you finish writing your list of Tasks and Sub-tasks, just click Save. You can have your Smart Checklist placed either on the right side of the Story or under it. You can change its location by clicking on the three-dot menu icon and choosing Show checklist in the centre panel.

Summary

Smart Checklist for Jira saves you plenty of time that you would otherwise have to spend on clicking around just to set Tasks for your Story. It also spares your teammates the need of having to search for specific Tasks by numbers. That’s especially useful when someone is not that familiar with Jira – all you do is share a single link with them to the Story.

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