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Using Issue hierarchy and Custom Field for OKR tracking

We're moving our OKR tracking to Jira, just as we're getting ready to move to team-managed projects.

1. For team-managed projects, how can we add an issue type initiative above epic and be shared common across different team-managed projects?

2. Can we add an issue type at the same level as epic (say objective or key result) and link that to epics? (NOTE: This is for both team-managed and company-managed Jira). And once we add, how can we query and report the status of objective issue type with respect to each epic solving the objectives?

3. As a work-around, can we create a custom field (such as a drop down) containing a list of initiatives? where we'll make the field mandatory for epics. 

2 answers

2 votes
Weronika Spaleniak Appfire
Marketplace Partner
Marketplace Partners provide apps and integrations available on the Atlassian Marketplace that extend the power of Atlassian products.
Feb 15, 2022

Hi @Janet Traub !
That's indeed quite a common problem within Jira. For the hierarchy structuring and having an additional level above the Epic the only way to go is, as @Dave Rosenlund _Tempo_  mentioned, either Advanced Roadmaps (a part of Jira Premium) or a dedicated plugin like Structure.

Although, if you would need that additional hierarchy mostly for the purpose of having the  OKRs within Jira, then maybe it would be a good idea to consider an OKR plugin. It would allow you to store the OKRs within Jira, but without confusing the OKRs with other tasks, as they won't be another Jira issue. What you will be able to do with an app, is to link Jira issues to the OKRs and even track the progress automatically based on their status. If that sounds interesting then you can check out the app I'm working on - OKR for Jira.

We can also schedule a demo session. :) 

Weronika Spaleniak

1 vote
Trudy Claspill
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
Feb 10, 2022

Hello @Janet Traub 

Welcome to the community.

If you are using a Standard subscription, there is not native support for extending the issue hierarchy in Jira.

In the Premium subscription the Advanced Roadmaps feature can be used to extend the hierarchy, but I don't think that is supported currently in Team Managed projects. (I don't work with Team Managed projects regularly, and I don't have a Premium subscription, so I'm basing that statement on other comments in the community.)

There are third party apps you can add to Jira that will support issue hierarchy extension. I don't know if those work specifically with Team Managed projects. There are several available. I have not used any of them, but a couple of names are Big Picture and Structure.

Regarding #1

Team Managed projects are designed to be stand alone. You cannot modify one and have that modification shared with others. The modification would have to be made in each Team Managed project.

Regarding #2

You cannot add another issue type at the Epic level that will inherit the built-in functionality that goes with Epics.


At a previous employer where we used Jira Data Center we had a similar need and the company was not interested in paying for any third party apps. What we ended up doing was creating a project for tracking all Initiatives (a custom issue type created at the same level as Story), and populated the Initiatives with Sub-Initiatives (a custom issue type created at the same level as Sub-task). We then used the native issue linking functionality to link Epics to Sub-initiatives. We had to do reporting to ensure Epics got linked to Sub-initiatives, and in our environment an Epic could be linked to more than one Sub-initiative. If your Epic could be linked to only one OKR, then you could possibly use a custom Issue Selection field in Epics to do that "linking". We ended up building custom reporting outside of Jira (via the REST API) to report on the status of Initiatives and Sub-initiatives.

My advice to the company at the time was to invest in a third party product, as it was very challenging to maintain and extend the extreme customization, but the company did not want to spend the money.

Dave Rosenlund _Tempo_
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
Feb 10, 2022

Yikes! I'm sorry you had to go through that, @Trudy Claspill 😕

@Janet Traub, WELCOME to the community.

Trudy is right. The Atlassian Community is littered with inquiries like yours. You are not alone.  And, as she says, the three most popular ways to extend or customize the Jira hierarchy of issues are (I'm just adding links):

Each can do what you describe and each approaches the challenge differently. And the price points are different. If you choose to look at any of them, I suggest you look at all three (or at least two out of the three).

But wait. There's more. 

They are "the big three" but you can also craft your own Atlassian Marketplace search — maybe there's something else that suits your needs better and/or has a better price point.

Here's an example:

As I said, that's just an example. You can learn more about adding apps to Jira in this community article.

Again, welcome!  I hope we helped.


P.S. Full disclosure. I work for the company that makes Structure.

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