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What's the suggested way to create items that are linked and dependent on each other?

My team needs to create items that need to be linked to each other in a way that's easy to identify which one needs to be done first, next, and last.


I'm not sure if we're doing this correctly, but we mostly use stories and tasks at the moment.

I was thinking of going about this linking via 2 options:

1. Creating tasks and sub-tasks. I've seen limitations with sub-tasks years ago, but can't remember what it was exactly. I see that sub-tasks can't be assigned to epics, is there a reason? Would the sub-tasks be reported to whichever epic the higher level task is assigned?

2. Having stories/tasks block each other. I've tried this already and am confused as to this exactly does. I can mark blocked items as "Done," past the blocking item in my sprint board - is that typical? Would I have to create a workflow to disable this?

Any other alternatives? Main goal is for our team to quickly see the next step they need to take as it relates to our work

1 answer

0 votes
Jack Community Leader Jun 13, 2019

Hi Brian, I hope I can shed some light here and offer some advice.

The relationships of issuetype categories in Jira are as follows:

  • Epics can consist of Stories/Tasks
  • Stories and Tasks are equivalent (just a naming thing really)
  • Sub-tasks can be added to Stories/Tasks
  • Sub-tasks cannot be added to Epics

When working in Scrum where sub-tasks are used, it is the story/task (parent of sub-tasks) that is considered not the individual sub-task. That is, if during a sprint not all sub-tasks are completed then by definition the story/task as a whole is considered incomplete. Therefore when the sprint is completed the entire story will return to the backlog or next sprint not just the incomplete sub-tasks.

Linking in Jira (blocks, blocked by, relates, etc.) are little more that labels. The one definitive benefit however is that you will see the linkage directly when viewing an issue and can easily click the linked issue to navigate to it. In otherwords, just because my issue is "blocked by" another issue that is not yet done does not prevent me from actually transition my issue to in progress. With that said then it becomes an education an discipline for your team.

You can also consider automation addons that might help you with some of this. For example you could consider having a "Blocked" status that an issue could be moved into if it is blocked by. Then when the linked issue is transitioned to Done then the other issue could be moved out of Blocked and into a status, e.g. To Do indicating it can proceed. Just a thought.

Thanks for the explanation.

Do you mind clarifying a bit more on what happens to stories, tasks and sub-tasks when a sprint is completed? Say that I have a task and 2 complete sub-tasks and 1 incomplete sub-task, and just finished a sprint. Would all 4 items (1 task + 2 complete subs + 1 complete sub) be moved to the next sprint?

Would the best workaround be better planning to know which sub-tasks to throw in the current sprint?

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