10X: Manage Epics

With the Epics page, you can manage your epics at a central location. You can select which columns to display using the Columns Shown option. To sort the epics, click the column heading.

Note: Only fields that are set as Active in Details Panels Settings are available for selection as columns on the page.

You can add features or capabilities to an epic. Capabilities can only be added to an epic that does not have a feature associated with it. If additional features are needed for this epic, a new epic must be created to build the hierarchy of epics, capabilities, and features.

Details

To view or edit the epic details, click its name in the grid. The following fields are available:

  • State indicates where in the development process the epic is. Rigid hierarchy is required as this drives many reports and workflows in Jira Align. If the Map Process Steps to States option is enabled on the Value Stream page, then when you set a state and save the epic, the process step will be changed based on its association with the epic’s state. If you select the state with no process step mapped, the process step will be changed to the last process step in the previous state (for all states except for the first one in the list) or the first process step of the second state (for the first state in the list).
  • Type is used to indicate the type of requirement, for example, business, architecture, enabler (for non-architectural enablers used to support upcoming business requirements), supporting (features for teams who aren’t development or QA-focused), or non-functional. This serves as a way for specialized resources to easily see items they should be focusing on.
  • MVP drop-down menu requires selecting whether the epic is a part of the minimum viable product. This option is critical for optimal flow and impact.
  • Contained In shows the parent theme of the epic. Clicking the parent theme opens its slide-out details panel.
  • Primary Program is responsible for the delivery of the epic. Primary program is required to drive most reports in Jira Align. Click the green plus sign to add additional programs to the epic.
  • Additional Programs help to manage epics through multiple programs. You can select Additional Programs among the programs from those portfolios that have the same capability policy as the Primary Program has (the visibility of capabilities for specific portfolios either turned on or turned off under Administration > Settings > Platform). If a program appears in both PIs, it is only available for selection once.
    Note: If the Primary or Additional Programs are changed, and one or more program increments assigned are outside those programs, you’ll receive a notification prompting you to change the PI assignments.
  • Owner is the person ultimately responsible for the end delivery of the epic.
  • Theme associates an epic with a higher-level work object that is intended to span many PIs if not years.
  • Program Increments assign an epic to the PIs that it is intended for development in. Eligible PIs that do not have the Done status appear for selection after you select the primary program.
  • Report Color helps to visually differentiate epics on some reports.
  • Click Full Details to see the following fields.

  • Dates help to drive placement of the epic in Roadmaps, Forecast, and Status Reports. Note that you have to toggle on all three of them in Page Config for any of them to show on this page.
    • Portfolio Ask. This date is set early in the process by the portfolio groups when they do their planning to request the delivery date for a project. Portfolio Ask is the date that the requestor (business) wants the epic to be delivered. This date is not related to the planned or target delivery date by the development organization.
    • Start/Initiation. This date indicates when the project will start. It is used for more effective strategic planning activities. This is not the actual start date of the project based on when the first story is done. This is the target start date based on intentions of the person submitting the project. Start/Initiation is the target date that the development team intends to begin work on the project. This date is not tied to the actual work objects and the sprints or PIs they are associated to.
    • Target Completion. This date indicates what the target completion date is. It is used for more effective strategic planning activities. It reflects the date the scheduler believes the project can actually be completed (versus the Portfolio Ask date which is the date the business wants the project to be delivered). Target Completion is the target date that the development team intends to complete work on the project. This date is not tied to the actual work objects and the sprints or PIs they are associated to.

When you click Lock next to the dates, the dates are saved. When locked, the following additional fields are saved: story estimate, feature estimate, capability estimate, and epic estimate. You can view this data together with the history of changes by clicking the information icon. Click Unlock to set new dates.

  • Developmental Step or Operational Step is a part of a value stream and is used to provide a continuous flow of value through the agile process. It depends on the program you select and appears only if you select a PI. You can learn more about value streams in the topic Create Value Streams. If the Map Process Steps to States option on the Value Stream page is enabled, then when you set a process step and save the epic, the state will be changed based on its association with the process step.
  • Capitalized option is used to indicate if an epic is eligible for capitalization. When selected, features within the epic (and the underlying stories and tasks) become eligible for capitalization and the data for those tasks, stories, and features are rolled up as capitalized on relevant reports.
  • Estimation System is used to estimate an epic. The options for estimating epics are WSJF, T-shirt size, points, and team/member weeks. An epic can be estimated against multiple PIs.
  • Tags are used to make it easier to find an epic.
  • Investment Type drop-down menu allows you to select the investment type set up in Administration > Settings > Platform Dropdowns.
  • Parent Goal is the main goal you want to complete with this epic. This field is populated with the long-term goals from the Strategy Room page.
  • Budget option is used to budget before the estimation process. Asking how much of the pie would you spend can be useful to compare to the actual estimate during PI planning.
  • Strategic Score includes the following values:
    • Strategic Value Score is for those not using scorecards or WSJF. You can indicate the relative value of an epic compared to others on a scale of 1-100 and use that information to support ranking and prioritization.
    • Effort SWAG is a way to compare the size, time, and effort that it will take to complete a set of features in an epic without going through detailed backlog estimating activities. SWAG is a rough estimate based on experience and intuition. You can indicate that value on a scale of 1-100.
  • Strategic Analysis includes the following values:
    • Strategic Driver links your epic to your organization's strategic driver, which is a critical factor that determines the success or failure of the organization's strategy. Strategic drivers are forces that shape an organization's strategy. Strategies are shaped by both external and internal forces. External drivers include competition, markets, laws, taxes, customer needs, and technological change. Internal drivers include profit goals, mission, and office politics.
    • Ability to Execute is used to estimate how hard it is to execute the strategy.
  • Kano Analysis includes the following categories:
    • Complexity is used to determine how complex an epic is in relation to the other epics.
    • Certainty is used to determine how much you know about an epic and how it will be built in relation to the other epics.
    • Kano Category lists a number of customer's needs and helps better understand them.
  • Quadrant is used to determine to which quadrant on a quadrant chart that measures effort and value an epic belongs. To have this field enabled, you need to contact Jira Align support.
  • Customers can be added to track who requested the epic and who will take advantage of it. Click the document icon to copy customers from all child capabilities or all child features if capabilities are disabled.

To delete an epic, click the Delete link from the list of links located on the right of the Details panel.

Doughnut chart

Use the doughnut chart on the Details tab to understand the amount of work spent and remaining on the epic and how long it will take to complete it. The progress is based on the child count. For epics, it will show the count of features/capabilities for them (6 of 10 items accepted). Effort points are pulled from all stories assigned to the epic.

The progress in the center of the circle is a percentage of children in the Accepted state. If an epic is in the Accepted state, this number is always 100% regardless of the children’s state.

The dials are counted as follows:

  • Accepted (blue) is a percentage of children in the Accepted state.
  • In Progress (orange) is a percentage of children in the In Progress, Test Complete, and Dev Complete states.
  • Not Started (gray) is a percentage of children in the Pending Approval and Ready to Start states.

The items in the Unassigned Backlog are also included.

Manage_epics_doughnut_chart.png

Design

The Design tab is used to capture UX/UI design information for the epic. Use the following parameters to define the epic's design: 

  • Hypothesis is an educated guess about the total design needs of the epic.
  • Design Stage is the stage of the design process the epic is in currently.
  • Lean UX Canvas is a model or approach the design of the epic is based on.
  • Prototype is a link to a mockup/prototype of the design.
  • Lean Use Cases allows you to choose lean use cases tied to this epic. Click Add to create a new lean use case.
  • Design Components allows you to choose design components to this epic. Click Add to create a new design component.

Intake

The Intake form is used to store additional information on an epic. This is the information your organization wants to collect about every project. The Jira Align default form appears here, but you can also create custom intake forms and apply them to epics.

To create and apply a custom intake form to an epic:

  1. Create a custom intake form under Administration > Settings > Platform > PortfolioEpic Intake Set. For the steps on how to create intake forms, see the Create Intake Sets section.
  2. Go to Administration > Setup > Portfolios, and then apply the intake set to a portfolio using the Intake Form field on the portfolio’s slide-out panel.
  3. Go to Administration > Setup > Programs, and then apply the intake set to the program of your epic using the Intake Form field on the program’s slide-out panel. You can either select the intake set that you applied to the portfolio in Step 2 (Use Portfolio Intake Form) or choose another intake set for the individual program.

Note: New programs created under a portfolio are set by default to the existing portfolio-applied intake form.

An example of the Business Impact intake form:

  • Does this directly affect revenue? Yes/No.
  • Is this externally facing to our customers? Yes/No.

Benefits

On the Benefits tab, you can view all information about the epic: name, description, dates, and success criteria. Funding stage of the epic is used in a number of Enterprise reports, such as project funding/status report, strategy dashboard, and budgetary tracking report.

Any custom fields added under Administration > Settings > Platform > Portfolio > Case Development appear after the Approvers section. The custom field set should be assigned to the program of the epic to appear here. All custom fields marked as required should be completed.

Note: Text fields in custom field sets accept responses of 500 characters or fewer.

You can add the project approvers, sponsors, and personas affected by the business case. Start typing the text in the box to add email addresses. Click the green thumbs up icon to view the approval status.

Value

Important: To turn on the Value tab for epics in a specific portfolio, select Yes under Administration > Settings > Platform > Portfolio Specific Configuration > select a portfolio > Scoring or Value Engineering.

Scorecards

You can use scorecards to score and rank your epics in a consistent way across the programs and portfolios. The Jira Align default scorecard appears here. You can add your own scorecards to build custom scoring under Administration > Settings > Platform > Portfolio > Scorecard Configuration. After the scorecard is added, assign it to the program of your epic under Programs.

To score an epic, drag the sliders to the required position. You can configure to use sliders or drop-down menus for scoring an epic under User Menu > Edit Preferences > Scorecard Type. The score is used to help calculate the overall value of the project and compare it to other projects. You can view your epic's score under Value Score. The maximum epic score is 100. Any unanswered questions are scored as zero. Analysis shows your epic’s score compared to average of other epics’ scores. The average score is calculated based on the epics that use the same scorecard.

Click the Analyze button to view the detailed ROI (return of investment) score analysis. The list of epics on the left is based on the settings on the Configuration bar. If you select a PI, all epics for that PI appear here. If you select a portfolio or program, all epics within that portfolio and program appear on the left ranked by their score. On the right, you can view the same individual scores and total value score as you see on the actual epic. The graph shows your epic’s metrics in blue in comparison with an average score across all epics in orange. If you look at all PIs, the average score is based on all epics in those PIs. You can switch between the epics by using the left and right arrows and compare what happens within those PIs.

Value Engineering

The Value tab for epics is also used for value engineering--a method to improve efficiency and decrease operating costs through analysis. Value engineering can improve function and lower costs, and determine if epics are worth building. 

Visit Value Engineering for complete details.

Time/Skills

The Time/Skills tab contains information related to time and resource assignment.

Under Schedule, you can view the list of process steps for the value stream and define the dates for each process step. For example, you want to finish the process step 1 – Market Research on November 24th. When the item is done, you can mark it complete.

Skill sets requested are used to allocate resources to each PI. Here, you can add the skills needed to complete the project along with the estimates.

Key dates are used along with milestones. You can track when your objectives are completed, for example. Add the deliverables with their due dates. When the item is done, you can mark it complete.

Finance

On the Finance tab, you can calculate the cost and budget of the entire epic. Additionally, you can set the discount rate, initial investment, efficiency dividend, revenue assurance, return on investment, spend to date, estimate at completion, forecast years, quarters, or months and cash flow years. Values entered here are used in the Status report under Enterprise. Below are definitions for a few financial terms you will encounter on this tab:

  • Efficiency Dividend ($m): An annual reduction in resources available to an organization.
  • Revenue assurance ($m): The use of data quality and process improvement methods that improve profits, revenues, and cash flows without influencing demand.
  • Return on Investment ($m): A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments.

Associating a work code with an epic allows users to specify IDs in external financial systems. These fields help users in reconciling data between Jira Align and an external financial system. For example, a set of epics may be tracked in an external financial system using a single work code. The user can then search for all epics in Jira Align with that work code to get a view of progress against that financial code.

Under Financial Risk, you can assess the epic’s exposure to risk. Select values from the drop-down menus to estimate business impact, risk appetite, IT risk, failure impact, and failure probability. Financial risk is used for calculating a risk score in the Program Increment Status report. By default, the Financial Risk fields are set to the following:

  • Business Impact: High
  • Risk Appetite: Low
  • IT Risk: High
  • Failure Impact: Negligible
  • Failure Probability: 1%-20%

Forecast

On the Forecast tab, you can view which teams and programs are allocated to the epic so you can track the efforts needed to complete it.

Important: The Forecast tab appears when you assign at least one PI to an epic on the Details tab.

The allocation data here is the same as in the Forecast report (Program > Forecast). Thus, if you change the allocations on the Forecast tab, they will override the allocations in the Forecast report, and vice versa.

If the epic is removed from the PI scope in the Forecast report, you will see a notification about that on the Forecast tab and cannot edit the allocation details for this PI.

To allocate programs and teams to the epic for the forecast:

  1. Select Portfolio from the left menu bar.
  2. Under the Manage section of the menu bar, select Epics; the Epics page displays.
  3. Click the epic name to open the epic details, and then click the Forecast tab.
  4. From the Program Increment drop-down menu, select the PI. The list of PIs this item is assigned to on the Details tab is available.
  5. From the Programs working on this Epic drop-down menu, select one or multiple programs. The list of programs associated with the PIs this item is assigned to is available.
  6. Type a number of team weeks or member weeks you expect to be spent on the work item for the PI in scope of the program.
  7. Type a number of team weeks or member weeks you expect the team to spend on the work item for the PI.
  8. If your program estimates are not equal to the rollup of team estimates, you will see a notification at the bottom of the tab, prompting you to update the program forecast estimate. Click the corresponding link to update the program forecast estimate.
  9. Click Yes, override it! to confirm you want to override all program forecasts to be equal to the rollup of respective team forecasts. This step is invalid if the program estimates equal zero; estimates will update without a confirmation.
  10. Click Save Forecast.

Notes:

  • If you entered the estimate for a program in the Plan Demand forecast view, this program will automatically be selected in the Programs working on this Epic drop-down menu and appear under Programs & Teams with its allocations.
  • Under Programs & Teams, the total allocation for a program is displayed in the top row for every program in the list. All teams within programs that were allocated to this epic appear here with their allocation.
  • If the team estimates are already set, you can add the program estimates by clicking Edit, but all team estimates for each program within the selected PI will be removed.
  • If you added any program estimates, programs selected on the Forecast tab are synchronized with the Additional Programs list on the Details tab.

Links

On the Links tab, you can sequence work items. It is used to create a link from one theme, epic, capability, feature, or story to another one to define that the work item cannot be started before the other one is finished.

Important: To turn on the Links tab, select Yes under Administration > Settings > Platform > Team > Enable Item Link.

Additionally, on the visualization chart, you can see the items related to each other on the timeline with respective dates and milestones. The chart shows the relationships between the items that have the predecessors and successors for the item.

  • Predecessor. A theme, an epic, a capability, a feature, or a story that comes before another work item.
  • Successor. A theme, an epic, a capability, a feature, or a story that comes after another work item.

Note: You can select only the items from the same portfolio.

The following relationships are available:

  • Story > story; story > feature; story > capability; story > epic; story > theme.
  • Feature > theme; feature > epic; feature > feature; feature > capability; feature > story.
  • Capability > theme; capability > epic; capability > capability; capability > feature; capability > story.
  • Epic > theme; epic > epic; epic > capability; epic > feature; epic > story.
  • Theme > story; theme > feature; theme > capability; theme > epic; theme > theme.

You can set up multiple predecessors and successors. Adding an item as a predecessor or successor to another item will automatically manage the links for both of them. This means that when item A is listed as a predecessor for item B, item B will be listed as a successor for item A automatically. Also, when item A is listed as a successor for item B, item B will be listed as a predecessor for item A automatically.

The same item cannot be set as a predecessor and a successor. The parent epic cannot be the predecessor or successor for the child feature or story. The child feature and story cannot be the predecessor or successor for the parent epic.

Important: Unlike dependencies, links do not provide the obligation or require any actions to be taken by anyone. They help to draw a picture of item interdependencies on various levels.

To create links:

  1. Go to the Links tab.
  2. Select the portfolio and program from the corresponding drop-down menus.
  3. Add one or multiple theme, epic, capability, feature, or story predecessors.
  4. Add one or multiple theme, epic, capability, feature, or story successors.
  5. Click Save, and then click the View the Predecessors and Successors button to view the created links on the visualization chart.

Visualization chart

The main item is highlighted in blue. Use the toggles on the right to highlight predecessors or successors. The related stories appear in the sprints they are assigned to. The related themes, epics, capabilities, and features appear in the sprints based on the following rules:

  • For predecessors, if all child stories are assigned to sprints, the theme, epic, capability, or feature appears in the last sprint the stories are assigned to.
  • For successors, if all child stories are assigned to sprints, the theme, epic, capability, or feature appears in the first sprint the stories are assigned to.

Predecessors

Themes, epics, capabilities, features, and stories appear in the At Risk column based on the following rules:

  • A theme, a capability (at least one of its child stories or features), a story, a feature, or an epic (at least one of its child stories, features, or capabilities) is in the unassigned backlog OR
  • A theme, a capability (at least one of its child stories or features), a story, a feature, or an epic (at least one of its child stories, features, or capabilities) is assigned to the same sprint as the main item OR
  • A theme, a capability (at least one of its child stories or features), a story, a feature, or an epic (at least one of its child stories, features, or capabilities) is assigned to the sprint that comes after the sprint of the main item.

Successors

Themes, capabilities, epics, features, and stories appear in the Unassigned column based on the following rule:

  • If a theme, a capability (at least one of its child stories or features), a story, a feature, or an epic (at least one of its child stories or features) is in the unassigned backlog.
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