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Can I link my epics to an Initiative (Parent link field) if I don't want to purchase Portfolio

Can I link my epics to an Inititive (Parent link field on Issue edit page) or you can do it only if you have Portfolio license? In other words, is Epic the highest level in Jira hierarchy if you don't have Portfolio license? 

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Tyler Brown Community Leader Nov 26, 2018

Hey Karine,

Yes, an Epic is the highest level in the JIRA hierarchy without Portfolio.



Thank you so much for your response!

Hi Karine,

"Parent Link" field is indeed provided by Portfolio. However, there are other ways to connect an Epic to an Initiative. 

One obvious thing is to use issue links. You'll need to create a new issue link type "(epic) realizes (initiative)" or something like that.

Another option – if you don't have a lot of initiatives, you can create a "select" custom field with all initiatives listed there. If Components field is not used, you can use that field – that comes with an "owner" for an initiative (component lead).

If you have initiatives as Confluence pages, you can connect them through a link between Jira and Confluence.

I don't know what stops you from using Portfolio, but if you're open to purchasing other apps, there are other apps on the Marketplace that can provide the storage of the relationship and/or visualization of such.

In particular, Structure app (currently available only on Server and Data Center), lets you build flexible, user-defined hierarchies. Linking initiatives and epics is a frequent case. It can also help visualize Confluence-Jira links. (Full disclosure: I work for the company behind Structure.)

Kind regards,


Hi Igor,


Thank you so much for your detailed message!  In fact, I submitted a request to my company Administration to purchase Portfolio. Meantime, I have created Initiatives in Jira and was trying to link epics to the newly created Initiatives. If Jira allows creating an Inititive as a higher level in hierarchy above Epic, then there should be an easy way to link epics to a parent Initiative just like stories can be linked to a parent epic, without using Portfolio. That was my thought, and I wanted to check if I wasn't missing anything. Thanks again! 

Like Igor Sereda _ALM Works_ likes this

Hi Igor,

Looks like Structure is $1/user/month and Portfolio is $3.5/user/month.  Questions:

1.) Do you need Structure to view initiatives, or only to create initiatives?

2.) Sort of a follow up questions... Do we need a Structure license for every Jira user in our organization, or are the licenses somehow dealt out as needed such that we just need enough to create initiatives as needed?

3.) If we later decide to switch to Portfolio, will the Initiatives created in Structure carry over to Portfolio?

Thank you!

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for your questions. 

1. You can create and view initiatives as normal Jira issues – neither Structure nor Portfolio are required for that. You can just create an issue type "Initiative" and an issue link type, as advised before. To create an initiative, just create an issue and link it to Epics that comprise the initiative.

Structure is needed to visualize your initiatives – when you need to see all (or some) initiatives with a hierarchy expanding into Epics, Stories, Sub-tasks. It's a tool that lets you have good visibility into what's happening. But you can also create and view initiatives in Structure.

With Portfolio, it's a little different, since Portfolio will be driving your roadmapping. There are a bunch of features specifically for that.

2. Yes, the limitation of all apps are currently such that you need a license for each licensed Jira user. All apps, including Structure and Portfolio, work this way. Atlassian may introduce a more flexible licensing model down the road, but I don't think it's happening anytime soon.

3. Since you're representing initiatives with issues, they remain in your system even if you uninstall Structure. The relationships are expressed with Jira links, so they also remain. If you want to start using Portfolio with the existing initiatives, there might be some migration involved, because Portfolio uses a different data mechanism (Parent Link field) to represent the relationship. There might be tools to do the conversion – I'm not 100% sure though. In any case, the data will remain and will be available for manual transition or scripting.

Hope this helps!


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