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Managing Epics Across Multiple Channels

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How to manage and track epics, if product is dependent on various teams of different channels? Keren Deer, Co-Founder at Sntio LLC, discussed about managing epics across multiple channels in her recent blog.

Keren mentioned the example of the project where product owner is managing multiple work streams, engineering teams and retail execution teams with different workflows, timelines and cycles, taking stakeholders input, feedback and approvals.

It is challenging to develop products across multiple channels. However, in a world increasingly networked through the cloud it is essential to deliver products where your customers expect them – on their phones, tablets, wearables and beyond.

Derek mentioned some strategies to manage these types of situations as:

  • Capture as much detail as possible at the epic level – get a big picture view – More information gathering help in avoiding duplicates across different channels.
  • Plan for dependencies – If you have multiple teams working in sync be sure to organize each teams backlog to align with the dependencies across teams.
  • Consider eliminating or minimize story intake – It is always a possibility that teams will be unable to complete all the required features in tandem.One team may be on track but another is focused on other work.This is a scenario when hard decisions have to be made. Data and market research can help you know what trade offs to make.

Jira Agile 6.3 provides a facility to manage epics across multiple projects. Dan Radigan, Senior Agile Evangelist at Atlassian ,explained this scenario in his blog on “Project portfolio management with JIRA Agile”.

Do your epics have issues from multiple JIRA projects? If so, program managers should own a “shadow” scrum board with the same JQL statement as you are using in the kanban board. Use the epic report from this scrum board as it will contain issues from all projects. If you use the “team’s” scrum board that is constrained to one project, the epic report will only contain issues from that project.

There are some other tools as well which provide the functionality of managing epics across various scrum boards. One scrum board can be dedicated for one workflow. YouTrack is a tool using which team can create an epic for all projects, the board will be associated with. Team can also create a board for epics and set swimlanes defined by issue of ‘Epic’ type. Epics will then occupy the highest level on the manager’s board explained by in his blog on “Multi-Level Agile Boards or How We Support Epics”

Tom Looy, Agile Leader at GE Software talked about The Great Wall for scaling agile on a multi-team project.

The Great Wall starts off as a physical wall that holds the User Experience Map of your solution. The map is first organized from the customer’s perspective, telling the customer’s story in reading the User Stories on the map going from left to right. The map is then layered into MVPs (Minimal Viable Product) based on the priority of the User Stories on the map. These layers correspond to the releases of the product.

Creating a Great Wall, a physical User Story Map and Project Status tool in a prominent place for all teams to access, is a great way to optimize for delivery while providing a status and management tool for the organization mentioned by Tom.

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