Manage epics

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The old navigation will be removed from Jira Align in early 2024.
Learn more about the upcoming changes


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.

To navigate to the epics page:

If you’re using the new navigation:

  1. Select Items in the top navigation bar.
  2. Select Epics; the epics page displays.

OR

  1. Select Portfolios in the top navigation bar and select the portfolio you want to view epics for.
  2. On the sidebar, select Epics in the list of page options; the epics page displays, filtered by the selected portfolio.
    Note: This page supports filtering by portfolios, solutions, or programs outside of your portfolio selection in the sidebar.

If you’re using the old navigation:

  1. Select Portfolio from the left Nav menu.
  2. Under the Manage section, select Epics; the epics page displays.

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 for a process flow is enabled, 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).
      • Process Step is a part of a developmental process flow and is used to provide a continuous flow of value through the agile process. The field will display the process flow from the primary program associated with the epic. Select the + Show More Process Flows link to display process steps associated with additional programs. If the Map Process Steps to States option on a process flow 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.
      • 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.
        Note: If you’re using the Azure DevOps connector, the primary program assignment is locked in Jira Align after it's been set for an item and synced. To change the program assignment in Jira Align after the epic has been synced, you'll need to change the area path assignment on the Azure DevOps item.
      • 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 switch 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.

      • 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 the Dropdowns platform settings.
      • 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.
      • 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 in the Epic Intake Set portfolio settings. For the steps on how to create intake forms, see the Create intake sets section.
      2. In your administration settings, navigate to Setup > Portfolios, and then apply the intake set to a portfolio using the Intake Form field on the portfolio’s slide-out panel.
      3. In your administration settings, navigate to 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, and budgetary tracking report.

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. Any approvers will receive a notification to approve the epic.

Any custom fields added under the Case Development portfolio settings 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.

You can also define the epic’s:

  • Current Funding State and Desired Outcome: The measurable gains for the organization.
  • Current Situation: Information on the epic’s state in proving the desired outcome.
  • Recommended and Desired Solution: How the epic will prove the business case with a product or business solution.
  • Support Required and Products Affected: The impact on support and product distribution.
  • Analysis Summary: Short description of the analysis that created the business case.
  • Notes: Additional notes about the business case.

Note: Text fields on the Benefits tab, including those in custom field sets, accept responses of 500 characters or fewer.

Value

Important: To turn on the Value tab for epics in a specific portfolio, select on the portfolio’s Scoring or Value Engineering portfolio-specific configuration setting.

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 using Scorecard Configuration in your instance’s portfolio settings. 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 Scorecard Type in your personal preferences. 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 your PI, portfolio, or program selection. 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.

Milestones

A milestone is a task or event that represents progress in the lifecycle of a theme, epic, capability, or feature. You can add and track up to 20 milestones within a single work item. To make each milestone unique and traceable, assign a name, description, category, and status. To visualize them on the roadmap, assign a clear start date and/or due date.

At the epic level, milestones help manage progress on significant projects to ensure they stay on track and deliver the expected results. For example, you might add a “customer offsite” milestone or “beta product launch” milestone to an epic. Read more about creating milestones.

Spend

On the Spend tab, you can set an epic’s budget and compare it with financial values as the epic is forecasted, broken down into estimated features, and finally completed through child stories. Additionally, you can set fiscal values that display on the Status Reports page, including discount rate, initial investment, efficiency dividend, revenue assurance, and return on investment. 

SpendTabEpic.png

Spend

At the top of the tab is the Budget field, where you can set the total amount the business has set to fund development of the epic. Below the field is the current Accepted Spend for the epic, which is the amount spent during the delivery of child stories. The remaining budget is shown as a value, and also represented by the circle chart to the right.

Progression of spend

In the Progression of spend section, you can see how estimated costs compare over time during the lifetime of the epic, to guard against running over budget. The epic’s Forecasted Spend, Estimated Spend, and Accepted Spend values are displayed as cards. Click on a card to launch the related Spend panel, where you can see how the financial value is calculated.

Spend Risk

Expand the Spend Risk section to assess the epic’s exposure to risk. Select values from the dropdown menus to estimate business impact, risk appetite, IT risk, failure impact, and failure probability. 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%

Fields that display in this section can be set to visible or hidden from the Details Panels Settings page.

Other Spend

Expand the Other Spend section to set values for fields that provide more context for the financial attributes of the epic. Fields in this section are displayed on Status Reports (Financial View). 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.

If enabled, the Work Code field displays at the bottom of the section. 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.

Forecast

On the Forecast tab, you can view and enter estimates for the teams and programs working on the epic, for each program increment (PI) the epic is associated with. Program and team estimates can also be viewed and edited from the Forecast page. Edits made in either location are synced. Learn more about using the Forecast page.

You can also edit the program increment (PI) estimate from the Forecast tab. This is the same PI Estimate field found on the Details tab of the epic.

Note:

  • Values entered on the Forecast tab, including the PI Estimate, are automatically saved.

Tab availability

The Forecast tab is available if your user role has the Portfolio > Manage > Epics > Forecast Tab system role permission toggle switched on. An epic must have at least one program increment associated with it for the Forecast tab to display. 

Controls and fields

See the diagram below for an explanation of each control and field on the Forecast tab:

diagram of forecast tab

  1. Program increment dropdown: Select which PI you want to enter estimates for.
  2. Program row: Select the expand icon (>) to view the teams within the program and their estimates. Select the icon again to collapse the row.
  3. Team row: The list of child teams within the program.
  4. Program Increment (PI) Estimate: The total estimated effort needed for working on this epic during the selected PI. This is the same PI Estimate field found on both the Details tab of the epic and on the Forecast page. Changes to this field will sync in all locations.
  5. Team estimate: Represents the amount of forecasted capacity needed from the team to work on the epic during the selected PI.
  6. Program estimate: Represents the amount of forecasted capacity needed from the program to work on the epic during the selected PI.
  7. Sum: Displays next to a program’s estimate when a mismatch is detected between the sum of team estimates and the program. Only available when a program row is expanded. Select the button to aggregate all team estimates and update the program estimate.
  8. Sum all: Displays next to the PI Estimate field when a mismatch is detected between the sum of program estimates and the PI Estimate. Only available when one or more program estimates contain a value. Select the button to aggregate all program estimates and update the PI Estimate field. 

Select a program increment

At the top of the tab, use the dropdown next to the Estimate for label to select the program increment (PI) you’re entering forecasts for. If the epic is only associated with one PI, the dropdown will have the associated PI selected for you.

Select a PI

Next to the dropdown is the estimate field for the selected PI. This is the same PI Estimate field found on the Details tab of the epic. Use this field to set a total estimate for the epic after forecasting activities. Changes you make to this field from the Forecast tab are automatically saved. 

Note that if your epic belongs to a portfolio that uses T-Shirt sizing as its estimation system, the PI Estimate field will be represented as a t-shirt size on the Details tab, while the field on the Forecast tab will be automatically converted and displayed in weeks, according to the settings chosen in the Estimation Conversions portfolio settings.  

Enter forecasts

Programs associated with the epic and the selected program increment (PI) will display as rows in the Programs and teams section. Use the expand icon (>) next to a program row to display the teams within the program, and their estimate fields. Select the icon again to collapse the row, which will only display the program estimate.

Program and team rows

Enter estimates in the Estimate field for a program or team’s row. Entries you make in estimate fields are automatically saved. 

The label to the right of the field indicates which estimation system is being used by your portfolio: Team Weeks, Member Weeks, or Points.

  • When using the T-Shirt sizing or Team/Member Weeks estimation systems, weeks are displayed. The choice made in the Week Estimates In portfolio setting will control whether team or member weeks are displayed.

Note: If the epic is removed from the PI’s scope by unchecking the In-Scope checkbox on the Forecast page, you will see a notification on the Forecast tab and won’t be able to edit forecast estimates for the PI.
Message when an epic is out of scope

Sum team and program forecasts

Sum and Sum all buttons will display on the tab when mismatched values are detected. 

The Sum button is available on an expanded program row when the sum of estimates entered in team rows do not match the entered program estimate. Select the Sum button to add all team estimates and update the program estimate.

Sum button

Select Undo to revert changes made by the Sum button.

The Sum all button displays at the top of the Forecast tab, next to the Program Increment (PI) Estimate field. The button will display when one or more program estimates exist, and the total of those estimates does not match the value in the PI Estimate field. Select the Sum all button to add all entered program estimates and update the PI Estimate.

Sum all button

Select Undo to revert changes made by the Sum all button.

Notes:

  • Selecting Sum all will not account for any team forecast estimates. 
    • For example, if a program’s estimate is 10 points, but two child teams have estimates of 5 points and 20 points each, 10 points will be used as the program’s contribution to the total sum. You can remove these inconsistencies by expanding each program row and selecting the Sum button to aggregate all team estimates before selecting Sum all
  • If a PI Estimate exists, but there are no estimates entered for programs, the Sum all button will not display. 

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 the Enable Item Link team setting.

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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