How does stage scheduling of empty epics work?

I'm noticing a strange case when looking at the scheduling of empty epics (with no children stories). In the attached example I have 2 simple stages (50% allocation for each), and a single epic in my plan with 200 days work estimated.

When looking at this on the story level I can see the epic there as well (since it does infact have an estimate), but both stages are scheduled to happen simultaneously, and not in order, which is what I would expect. 

How does this work?

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1 answer

1 accepted

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Hi @Daniel Zinsli,

I thought it counterintuitive at first, too. But this is the expected and desired behaviour. 

There are a few things to keep in mind that guide this behaviour:

  1. A story is the smallest block to which a feature can be broken down that still deliver user value. A story should fit into a sprint. 
  2. An epic is a larger body of work that is (or will be) broken down into stories. 
  3. Stages are sequential, and according to the stage sprint constraint (which is on by default), you can only work on one stage of any single story per sprint. An epic however (because of its stories) can be in multiple stages at once. 
  4. Portfolio for JIRA will always schedule work to finish as soon as possible. Half of the things done is considered better than all the things half done. 

If we look at your example, we can assume that your epic of 200 days will be broken down into sprint-sized chunks that will be worked on each sprint. The first sprint delivers exactly one sprint's worth of stage 1 of that epic. This work is now "unlocked" to be put into stage 2. And as we defined above, stage 2 work is prioritised over new stage 1 work, so that more work is finished quicker. This is then repeated each sprint. 

Thus, the schedule ends up looking like it's doing the stages in parallel for the epic, alternating between stages each sprint. But in actuality it's doing the stages in sequence, just for hypothetical stories. It's as if there were exactly one story per sprint. 

I hope that clarifies it a bit. 

Cheers,
Allard

Thanks Allard for the explanation, that clears up for me why the epic is split like that. 

One remaining question is how the scheduler determines the 'sprint' length in a kanban setting?  

In my example the team scheduling is set to Kanban and there are no sprints defined for the included project.

Hey @Daniel Zinsli,

I'm glad it helped! If you could accept the answer as the solution, that would be great.

In Kanban mode Portfolio for JIRA considers the smallest size of work to be a single day. 

For ideas on how to set up a Kanban plan, have a look at these resources:

Cheers,
Allard

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