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Everything I've read (specefic to Jira) says that these are nothing more than issue label types. I understand the use of Epics are for efforts that span across multiple sprints and you need something to track those against.
I don't see any pro's and con's (in Jira) in using a Features vs a Task vs a Story? The question which was posed to me was now that we are agile and using the boards, what if I want to break items down into smaller sizes. Is it better to use a Feature / sub tasks, Story / sub tasks or Tasks / Sub Tasks. I don't see any advantage. Either way I go it appears I get the same functionality. Only the parent appears to show up on the board. (In other words you can't have children in any other sprints and you couldn't say assign a sub task to another team). It doesn't appear you can assign points to sub tasks to either types of parents? which seems odd. So other than the theory behind the meaning's between features, stories and tasks is there any advantage in jira in using one over the other?
As you already pointed out: there is no true difference between a Story, a Feature or a Task in JIRA Agile, only what you and your team make of it.
If you need to break certain Stories up into items that have to be assigned to different teams I would advise you to convert this Story into an Epic and make new Stories of the sub tasks, these Stories can then be assigned to different teams.
Otherwise I would simply advise you to use sub tasks underneath stories (these are not viewable in the plan mode, but they are viewable in the work and report mode of your Agile Board).
For my teams I usually use time based estimates for sub tasks and story points only for stories.
And I use a burndown based on estimated time remaining.
I hope this helps.
Using sub tasks under Features have the exact same functionality as using sub tasks under Stories correct? Or is there advantages in Jira using one or the other? I was asked about breaking Features into Stories but that seems a bit odd since i'll only be able to 'link' and not create a parent/child relationship that sums up points or anything. The reason being is we wanted something to pull release notes from Features or Stories (whichever we go with) and tasks were more no software building tasks... (create the automation for... update help files etc)
The major difference from what I can tell is that you cannot by default assign Story Points to Improvements and New Features, but only to Epics and Stories. So if something gets submitted as an Improvement or New Feature, and I wanted to assign a Story Point value, do I need to rewrite the summary to story-format then convert to a Story? Or would I be better off reconfiguring the project to allow the assignment of Story Points to Improvements and New Features? Or is there a better approach?
That is the common practice. You should follow your business requirements. If you require that you should have different issue types that you want to consider agile stories - then you should follow that guide and add story points to those issue types. If you don't know what for do you need such amount of issue types and don't see the difference and they mostly confuses you - then move tickets with other issue types to stories and remove existing from issue type scheme. I don't know your business, so there is no common answer.
Here is an internal definition which we have used for our projects
Epic - A large feature or theme that can span several releases (versions in Jira parlance)
Feature - A functionality that we deliver in a version. They correlate to what is there in the version release notes.
Story - functionality increment we deliver within an internal milestone (Sprint) while developing a version
Task - A workitem that needs to be done while developing a story or feature and does not span more than 2 days
Hope this helps
If you use Advanced Roadmaps for Jira (previously portfolio), you will get a top level hierarch:
Initiative > Epics (this is really a story since it would be broken down into multiple tasks) > Tasks > Subtasks
But if you don't have that you could do the breakdown
Epics>Stories>Sub-tasks - though sub-tasks in jira lose some functionality (ie story points don't bubble up from sub-tasks to stories, etc.)