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In the realm of Jira, an epic is a large piece of work that can be broken down into several smaller pieces, often called Issues in Jira. Epics can encompass multiple teams working on multiple projects, can be tracked on various boards and are generally employed via a set of sprints.

SEE: Hiring kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)

Epics tend to be focused on agile teams and projects, where efficiency is key. Think of epics as high-level business requirements that are too complicated and large to be delivered over a single sprint. Epics can be a great way to better manage issues for much larger projects, and I’m going to show you how to create one.

There are three different ways to create epics, from the Roadmap, Backlog and Global Create. I’m going to walk you through how to create an epic from within a Roadmap, as most all projects will lean heavily on that feature.

What you’ll need to create an epic in Jira

To create your first epic, you’ll need a Jira account with the Roadmap enabled. Make sure to log in to your Jira account and either create a new development project for testing or open a previous project that includes a Sprint.

That’s all you need. Let’s get epic.

How to create your first epic

Once you’ve logged in to your Jira account, navigate to the project in question and click the global Create button in the top toolbar. In the resulting window (Figure A), make sure to select Epic as the Issue Type and then fill out the rest of the information.

Figure A

Creating an epic from the global Create button.

Once you’ve created the epic, it will appear in your Roadmap (Figure B).

Figure B

Our first epic has been created.

After you’ve created the epic, the next step is to add child issues. Here’s how:

  1. Stay in the Roadmap view.
  2. Hover your cursor over the epic and, when the + appears, click it (Figure C).
  3. Type the name of the child issue and hit enter on your keyboard.
  4. Keep adding child issues until you’re satisfied.

Figure C

The + symbol is where you create child issues.

How to enable the Epic panel in Backlogs

Now that you’ve created your first epic, you might want to enable the Epic panel in the Backlogs view. To do this, click Backlog in the left navigation and then click the Epic drop-down to the right of your profile image. From the drop-down (Figure D), click the Epic Panel On/Off switch until it’s in the On position.

Figure D

Enabling the Epic Panel in Backlog.

With the Epic Panel created (Figure E), you can now create epics much more quickly.

Figure E

The Epic Panel has now been enabled.

From the Epic Panel, you can click an Epic and then create associated child issues. As you create each child issue, you’ll notice that they are automatically tagged with the epic you’ve selected (Figure F).

Figure F

I’ve created an issue for the FEATURE X epic, which is shown in the purple tag.

One other very cool thing you can do is link epics. From the Roadmap view, select an issue within an epic and then click the Link button above the In Progress drop-down. From the drop-down menu, click Link issue. In the resulting pane, click Search for Issues and then select the issue you want to link (Figure G).

Figure G

Linking issues within an epic.

When finished, click Link and your issues are now linked.

And that’s the short and sweet of creating epics in Jira. It’s a bit of a confusing feature to start with but once you get the hang of it you’ll realize just how handy epics can be.

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