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Epics of epics

francis Marketplace Partner Jun 18, 2013

We have a project with 170 epics, and we would like to group them around specific themes in such a way that our product owners can reschuffle the priorities of these themes and the priorities of the epics within a theme.

Is there a way to setup a project / rapid board such that

a) A product owner can reprioritize on theme and epic level in the product backlog

b) When the team lead works on planning the sprint, the stories are prioritized according to the epic priority. For instance when epic 1 has a higher priority then epic 2, all stories of epic 1 have a higher priority than the stories of epic 2

What is the best approach ?

9 answers

1 accepted

6 votes
Answer accepted
francis Marketplace Partner Jun 19, 2013

The answer to this question is the structure plugin using a filter and a greenhopper synchroniser.

I just got of the phone with Igor from almworks.
We worked out a functional configuration in less than 15 minutes.
Great add-on - and great support.

An important note for anyone using Filter sync and GreenHopper sync altogether: always have GH sync disabled when resyncing Filter sync! If you need to recreate a Filter sync, this is the correct sequence:

  1. Disable GH Sync
  2. Recreate/resync Filter sync
  3. Resync and Enable GH Sync (direction: from GH to Structure)

Otherwise if you resync filter synchronizer with GH synchronizer running, it may change Rank/Epics in response to issues being added/removed at the top level.

Structure isn't supported in JIRA Cloud, are there similar plugin solutions for Cloud?

Like # people like this

I think there are a few ways you can group Epics into similar-themed groups:

1. Setup Versions for your project. These will appear on your Rapid Board. Assign Epics to Versions. This will allow you to group and view Epics that belong to a particular version. You can prioritize versions by assigning start and end dates. You will still not be able to prioritize all stories of an epic together.

2. Use labels to identify similar Epics. This will however not be visble on the rapid board and also not let you prioritize all stories from that Epic at once.

3. Revisit, from an agile perspective, how you define an Epic. An Epic is usually something that cannot be completed in a single go or a single sprint. An Epic is usually broken down into stories that can be completed in a single go. The stories then have tasks that your team performs to make the acceptance criteria happen. Here's a far-fetched example:

Project: Conquer Planet Mars

Epic: Build a Mars Lander

Story: Develop Landing Gear

The Mars lander, weighing 5000lbs, will be traveling at a constant speed of 300m/s upon impact with the Martian surface.

Acceptance Criteria: Landing gear should allow a Mars Lander to land successfully and not suffer any damage. Landing gear can be one-time use only.

Sub-task1: Investigate material requirements

Sub-task2: Build Lego Prototype

Sub-task3: Build real landing gear

Sub-task4: Test

In some cases, even this story can be broken down further.

Hope this helps. Cheers!

Epics cannot be ranked/prioritized, that's a quality of single Issues only.

May I ask how did you end up with 170 Epics? It sounds like an excessive number for one Project. How fine-grained is your use of tasks, are you using Stories and Sub-tasks as well?

francis Marketplace Partner Jun 19, 2013

it's a large product with a lot of features, and a lot of people working on it. We do use stories and subtasks

@francis I'm interested, 5 years later, to know the fate of the 170-epic project. Feel free to contact me directly. Hope it was a success.

Like # people like this

@John Hayes Did you receive an answer to this?  We are researching this for our team right now.

It's amazing that people have been asking for a higher level than epic since 2013 and Jira has been ignoring this for so long!

Like # people like this

This hasn't been ignored.  It's just solved with other tools such as Advanced Roadmaps (formerly Portfolio) which introduced initiatives, containing Epics, for planning purposes.  Also, check out Hakkiri which also provides Increments and Initiatives for an expanded depth of planning and reporting.

Like James Smith _Hakkiri_ likes this

Thanks for the mention @Brian Jones, we've now brought the full power of our platform into Jira Cloud directly as Delivery Tracking & Reporting for Jira.

Epics of Epics pretty please or some other functionality - themes.  We have over 300 people potentially working on large features that go into our products.   But I see this as an issue even when we have 2 teams working thru multiple Epics.  There is no way to prioritize Epics, there no visibility without lots of funky queries to see if you are burning down thru the epics.  I realize most people use labels as 'themes', but other than arbitrary ways to formulate labels (add the quarter you want the epics to go out in, etc) there is no way to prioritize/rank.

Hi Doug, Our Structure plugin can really help with managing large Agile projects, some ideas here - How would you like to prioritize Epics?

Use our plugin Agile Board Filter and you'll be able to create filters around epics





Asked above, but this may be a better place, Any Cloud based plugin that does similar things to Structure?

Like Taylor Smith likes this

@Lori Hamilton did you receive any follow up to this inquiry - looking for a solution too.

@Taylor Smith - No, but we are looking at Portfolio as a potential solution.

Like Taylor Smith likes this

Thank you!  We are testing Portfolio as well for the same solution.  I also loved the Big Picture plug in- but it didn't quite do what I wanted it to do.

I have created an Epic in Project X, and created 6 tasks in that Epic. Then I moved the tasks - one by one - to Project Y, while modifying their task type to Epic.

I went back to the Epic in Project X, it had 6 issues, all of them Epics.


How did this work out for you? I'm looking for a similar solution. Did your workaround get the job done?

The Structure plugin is much more we need. We just want to be free to group Epics and/or Stories in Epics to see it in the left bar of the backlog an in reports of agile projects. An optional & additional status 'Mark as Ready (to be planned)' like 'Mark as Done' would help to get the left bar of the backlog and the reports (c)lean ;).

I followed up from what @Földes László suggested, and there's even quicker road - without moving tasks to other project.

Create a task under Epic, edit the task and change its type to Epic. Voilla!

But if you transform a task to an Epic it will lose the epic parent.

Yes, it's not ideal. 

On the other hand - we are talking about workaround here. You can introduce custom type of relation (has super Epic) and link to the parent Epic. 

Thanks for sharing great insights, I'm about to try the workaround soon. Rado, could you please share the details on how the custom type relationship would work in JIRA cloud? 

Sample implementation:


Thank you Rado, appreciate it.

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