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We have a different departments that use Jira so I'm hesitant to add an "Initiative" level at this time.
If I'm using Portfolio for 1 board/project, do I need to create an Initiative level? What is the benefit of doing this?
What is the impact of adding this new level to Jira?
Actually, there's no problem to using the Initiative level. It's complicated to change the hierarchy while people are using Portfolio already, but there's no issue with using the current hierarchy for your own project.
I've seen instances with plenty of IT and non-technical projects using the same hierarchy. There's absolutely no confusion and it's going smoothly. If you think you need a higher level than Epic, for sure go ahead and use it :)
Sure, thats no problem!
Actually, Portfolio has a field that is pretty much like the Epic Link and it's called the Parent Link. So if you want to use the Initiative, all you need to do is make sure you do have Initiative in your Issue Type Scheme of your project. Then, you go to your Epic and you just enter in the Parent Link which Initiative it should be linked to. So for that, you need to make sure Parent Link is in your Screen for your Epic as well :)