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Should you create parent-child relationships using 'Parent link" field or issue links? Edited

What is the proper way to create parent-child relationships? I see two options- add a custom field 'Parent link" to your screen or use the issue links and create a "Parent of" options.  These two fields seems to have different functionality and are captured differently on the issue details.  Which one truly creates a hierarchy that can be used in Portfolio and Structure

2 answers

Hi, @rachael.pann .  As you and Bryan have been discussing, the Parent Link is a special, Portfolio-specific link. Out of the box, Portfolio supports the usual Jira 3-level hierarchy: Epic > Story > Subtask.

But you may modify this hierarchy and add a new parent above the Epic level: Initiative > Epic > Story > Subtask. Other changes to the 4-level configuration are permitted, too -- as long as everyone across the portfolio uses the same parent-child scheme.

If you are already using Portfolio for other reasons (i.e., road-mapping) and are familiar with it, you may want to see if you can also use it to suit your parent-child needs. Refer to the link above (and related pages). 

Alternatively, many organizations desire the flexibility to arbitrarily define (or utilize their own existing) multi-level hierarchies - where multi-level may be > 3, or even > 4.

Many of these organizations (including KP) choose Structure for Jira (or another Atlassian Marketplace app) in order to define any parent-child hierarchy, with any number of levels, they wish -- using Issue Links. Structure would easily support your initiatives > features > epics > stories hierarchy.

I would argue neither approach is "right" or "wrong." You must decide which is best for you for all or your use cases.    

Contact us at if you wish to learn how Structure can be used as an alternative for this use case. KP already has an unlimited user license.

- dave [ALM Works]

0 votes
brbojorque Community Leader Dec 22, 2019

If you have Portfolio for Jira then you can use the built in functionality of the add-on for Heirarchy.

Alternative is to use the issue link, then again it depends upon the use case and requirements.

Hi Bryan! Thanks for the quick reply-can I utilize the issue links ‘Parent of’ and ‘Child of’ and have Portfolio recognize that hierarchy? Or does using that form of issue links not create a hierarchical relationship? 

brbojorque Community Leader Dec 22, 2019

@Hi @rachael.pann ,

The Issue type links are only a workaround, however if you already have a Portfolio for Jira add-on then you don't need the issue links to be honest.

Issue links are generally linking from one issue to another, depending on how you interpret the functionality and your requirements it can become a parent-child relationship.

@brbojorque use case- simple creation of parent child hierarchy between initiatives > features > epics > stories. Should we use parent link field for initiative to features and for features to epic, and then use epic link for epics to stories? I’m guessing the parent link field is specific for Portfolio. I do want to avoid my team using both the parent link field and parent of issue link, which I can see happening. So I will have to train them to only use one of these for consistent data. However, does portfolio recognize the issue links to manage dependencies? (Ex relates/is blocked by) 

If you have time for a quick chat, I could walk you talk you through what we are trying to do! 

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