Mastering GitLab: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Create an Epic

Mastering GitLab is essential for teams looking to streamline their project management and collaboration efforts. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of creating and managing epics in GitLab, ensuring you can effectively organize and track your project’s progress. From setting up your GitLab group to linking issues and tracking progress, this guide covers everything you need to know to become proficient in using GitLab epics.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the concept and benefits of GitLab epics is crucial for effective project management.
  • Setting up your GitLab group properly is the first step towards successful epic creation and management.
  • Navigating to and customizing the Epics section allows for a tailored project tracking experience.
  • Linking issues to epics helps in organizing tasks and visualizing project progress.
  • Regularly reviewing and updating epics ensures that your project stays on track and adapts to any changes.

Understanding GitLab Epics

What is a GitLab Epic?

A GitLab Epic is a high-level organizational tool used to manage and group related issues and smaller epics within a project. Epics act as parents to issues, allowing teams to break down complex projects into manageable parts. This hierarchical structure helps in visualizing the overall progress and ensures that all tasks are aligned with the project’s goals.

Benefits of Using Epics

Using GitLab Epics offers several advantages:

  • Improved Organization: Epics help in categorizing and structuring work, making it easier to track progress.
  • Enhanced Collaboration: Teams can collaborate more effectively by having a clear view of the project’s scope and related tasks.
  • Better Planning: With start and end dates, epics provide a visual roadmap, aiding in better project planning and timeline management.
  • Scalability: Epics can be broken down into smaller child epics and issues, making it easier to manage large projects.

When to Use Epics

Epics are particularly useful in the following scenarios:

  1. Large Projects: When dealing with extensive projects that require breaking down into smaller, manageable tasks.
  2. Cross-Functional Teams: When multiple teams are working on different aspects of a project, epics help in coordinating efforts.
  3. Long-Term Planning: For projects that span several months, epics provide a high-level overview and help in tracking long-term goals.

In GitLab Ultimate, epics offer advanced features like child epics and cross-project management, making them an indispensable tool for large-scale project management.

Setting Up Your GitLab Group

Creating a new group in GitLab is the first step towards organizing your projects and collaborating effectively. On GitLab SaaS, you must use the GitLab UI to create groups without a parent group. This ensures that your group is properly configured and ready for use.

Configuring your group settings is crucial for managing permissions and access. You can customize various aspects such as visibility, project creation levels, and more to suit your team’s needs.

Managing group members involves adding and removing users, assigning roles, and setting permissions. This helps in maintaining a structured and secure environment for your projects.

Navigating to the Epics Section

Locating the Epics Tab

To start working with epics, you first need to locate the Epics tab. This can be found in the primary navigation bar at the top of your GitLab interface. Simply click on the ‘Epics’ option to proceed.

Understanding the Epics Dashboard

Once you’ve navigated to the Epics section, you’ll be greeted by the Epics Dashboard. This dashboard provides a comprehensive overview of all your epics, including their status, progress, and any associated issues. The dashboard is designed to simplify navigation between projects and help you manage your work more efficiently.

Customizing Your View

The Epics Dashboard is highly customizable. You can adjust the view to focus on specific epics, filter by labels, or even change the layout to better suit your needs. This flexibility ensures that you can tailor the dashboard to match your workflow and user experience preferences.

Efficient navigation and customization of the Epics Dashboard can significantly enhance your project management capabilities.

Creating Your First Epic

Starting a New Epic

To create your first epic in GitLab, you have several options. You can initiate the process from the global navigation bar by selecting the Create button and choosing Epic as your issue type. Alternatively, you can start from the Timeline or Backlog sections. Each method provides a straightforward way to begin your epic creation journey.

Filling in Epic Details

Once you’ve initiated the creation process, you’ll need to fill in the necessary details. This includes the epic’s title, description, and any other required fields such as assignee or priority. Make sure to provide a clear and concise description to help your team understand the epic’s objectives.

Setting Start and End Dates

Setting start and end dates for your epic is crucial for effective project management. These dates help in tracking progress and ensuring that the epic aligns with your project timeline. In GitLab Premium, you can also utilize advanced features like milestones and dependencies to further refine your epic’s schedule.

Remember, a well-defined epic serves as a cornerstone for successful project execution. Take the time to set it up correctly.

Linking Issues to an Epic

Linking issues to an epic in GitLab is a crucial step in organizing and managing your project efficiently. By associating issues with an epic, you can group related tasks and track their progress towards overarching project goals.

Assigning and Managing Epic Labels

Assigning labels and milestones to your GitLab issues is crucial for effective project management. Labels help categorize issues, while milestones allow you to track progress towards specific goals. Here’s how to do it:

Tracking Progress with Epics

Using the Roadmap View

The roadmap view is an essential tool for visualizing the progress of your epics over time. It provides a timeline that helps you see the start and end dates of each epic, along with their current status. This visibility allows teams to align their work with project milestones and deadlines effectively.

Monitoring Epic Progress

Regularly monitoring the progress of your epics is crucial for ensuring that your project stays on track. Utilize the epic burndown chart, which shows the remaining work over time. This chart helps in identifying any blockers and adjusting plans as needed. Keeping stakeholders informed through these updates can significantly enhance transparency and accountability.

Adjusting Timelines

As work progresses, you may need to adjust the timelines of your epics. This can be done by updating the start and end dates based on the current status and any changes in scope. Remember to document these changes and communicate them to your team to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Regular updates and adjustments to your epics’ timelines are key to maintaining project momentum and meeting deadlines.

Collaborating with Team Members

team collaboration on GitLab

Collaboration is key to the success of any project, and GitLab provides several features to facilitate this. Emphasize cross-functional prioritization to align the team’s efforts and ensure that everyone is contributing to the project’s most critical aspects.

Assigning Team Members to Epics

Assigning the right team member to an epic is crucial for efficient project management. In GitLab, you can assign epics to one or multiple team members. This is particularly useful for complex tasks that require collaboration. To assign an epic, simply select the assignee(s) from the dropdown menu in the epic creation or editing screen. Multiple assignees can be particularly beneficial in larger projects where tasks overlap.

Communicating within an Epic

Effective communication within an epic is essential for keeping everyone on the same page. Regularly update epic descriptions with proposed solutions and design links. Validate approaches with stakeholders and document findings for transparency. This ensures that all team members are aware of the current status and any changes that have been made.

Reviewing and Approving Changes

Reviewing and approving changes within an epic is a critical step to ensure quality and alignment with project goals. Engage in Think Big and Think Small sessions to explore and narrow down design options. Validate approaches with stakeholders and document findings for transparency. This collaborative approach helps in making informed decisions and maintaining the project’s direction.

Time spent together in person has its own benefits, too. It’s great for building trust, getting to know members of your team, and creative brainstorm sessions.

Advanced Epic Management

Managing epics in GitLab can be the lazy developer’s dream: copilot AI simplifies coding work. Here, we delve into advanced techniques to make your epic management more efficient and effective.

Using Child Epics

Child epics allow you to break down large, complex projects into smaller, more manageable parts. This hierarchical structure helps in tracking progress and ensuring that all aspects of a project are covered. Grouping related issues under child epics can make them easier to manage and track.

Handling Cross-Project Epics

Cross-project epics are essential for overarching goals of the project. They enable you to link issues from different projects under a single epic, providing a clear overview of progress towards completing significant project milestones. This is particularly useful for large organizations where multiple teams work on interconnected projects.

Archiving Completed Epics

Once an epic is completed, it’s good practice to archive it. This helps in keeping your workspace clean and focused on current tasks. Archiving also ensures that historical data is preserved for future reference, which can be invaluable for project retrospectives and audits.

Regularly update the epic with progress notes, changes in scope, or adjustments to the timeline as the work progresses.

Best Practices for Epic Creation

Defining Clear Objectives

When creating an epic, it’s crucial to start with a well-defined objective. This ensures that everyone on the team understands the purpose and goals of the epic. Clear objectives help in aligning the team’s efforts and provide a benchmark for measuring progress.

Breaking Down Work Efficiently

An epic should be broken down into smaller, manageable tasks or issues. This not only makes the work more approachable but also allows for better tracking and management. Use the backlog for Scrum projects or the roadmap for Next-gen projects to organize these tasks effectively.

Regularly Reviewing Epics

Regular reviews are essential to ensure that the epic is on track and aligned with the project’s goals. Schedule periodic check-ins to assess progress, make necessary adjustments, and address any roadblocks. This practice helps in maintaining the relevance and effectiveness of the epic.

Regular reviews and adjustments are key to successful epic management. They ensure that the epic remains aligned with the project’s evolving needs and goals.

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Overcomplicating Epics

One of the most common pitfalls is overcomplicating your epics. Keep your epics simple and focused to ensure they are manageable and understandable. Avoid adding too many details or sub-tasks that can overwhelm your team and dilute the main objectives.

Ignoring Team Feedback

Ignoring team feedback can lead to misalignment and missed opportunities for improvement. Make it a habit to regularly solicit and incorporate feedback from your team members. This not only fosters a collaborative environment but also ensures that your epics are aligned with the team’s capabilities and goals.

Failing to Update Epics Regularly

Failing to update epics regularly can result in outdated information and miscommunication. Set a schedule for regular reviews and updates to keep your epics current and relevant. This practice helps in maintaining the momentum and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

By incorporating these practices into your routine, you’ll ensure that your GitLab instance remains robust and your team can focus on delivering quality software without unexpected delays.


Mastering GitLab epics is a crucial skill for any team looking to streamline their project management and enhance collaboration. By following this step-by-step guide, you now have the knowledge to create, manage, and utilize epics effectively within GitLab. Remember, the key to successful project management lies in clear communication and organized tracking of tasks. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or new to GitLab, these practices will help you keep your projects on track and ensure your team works efficiently. Keep exploring and refining your skills to make the most out of GitLab’s powerful features.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a GitLab Epic?

A GitLab Epic is a feature that allows you to group related issues together to track progress on larger initiatives. It acts as a parent to multiple issues and can span multiple milestones.

How do I create a new group in GitLab?

To create a new group in GitLab, navigate to the ‘Groups’ section, click on ‘New Group,’ and follow the prompts to set up your group name, visibility level, and other settings.

What are the benefits of using Epics in GitLab?

Using Epics in GitLab helps in organizing and tracking large bodies of work, facilitates better project management, and improves team collaboration by providing a high-level overview of progress.

How can I link issues to an Epic?

You can link issues to an Epic by navigating to the Epic’s page and using the ‘Add issues’ button to either create new issues or link existing ones.

What is the Roadmap view in GitLab?

The Roadmap view in GitLab provides a visual timeline of your Epics, allowing you to track progress, set start and end dates, and adjust timelines as needed.

Can I assign labels to Epics?

Yes, you can assign labels to Epics for better categorization and filtering. Labels help in organizing Epics based on different criteria like priority, status, or team.

How do I monitor the progress of an Epic?

You can monitor the progress of an Epic by using the Epics Dashboard, where you can see the status of linked issues, milestones, and overall completion percentage.

What are some common pitfalls to avoid when creating Epics?

Common pitfalls include overcomplicating Epics, ignoring team feedback, and failing to update Epics regularly. It’s important to keep Epics simple, collaborative, and up-to-date to ensure effective project management.

You may also like...