In Jira Software, users can divide their issues into epics and sprints. The epic is one of the most powerful features that you get with Jira Software because of its versatility. In this article you’ll learn:
- What an epic is and how it differs from a sprint
- How to report on epics from the epic directly
- How to report on epics from your Scrum or Kanban board
- What the Epic Report and Epic Burndown show
- How to use filters and Jira Query Language (JQL) in epic reporting
- How to use Jira dashboard gadgets in epic reporting
If you’re after a basic understanding of how to use reports in Jira, this article should help.
What is a Jira epic?
Epics are used to capture large bodies of work that you can do in Jira. An epic is often a larger user story that is broken down into smaller stories in order to be worked on, e.g. launching a whole new website. This differs from sprints, which are time boxes of 1-4 weeks that teams commit to completing a set amount of work in. The stories in sprints could span multiple epics, as teams work on a variety of things. Epics are generally delivered over a set of sprints and may encompass multiple teams, on multiple projects, tracked across multiple boards.
The important thing to note about epics is that they aren’t just an agile tool. Teams of all work styles can benefit from the epic in Jira because an epic can be a feature, a waterfall project, or just a way to group similar tickets together.
Let’s walk through the different ways that you can report on epics in Jira.
How can I report on epics in Jira?
Directly from within the epic
The easiest place to track the progress of an epic is directly from the epic itself. In Jira Cloud, you can see a percentage complete of the issues in your epic. This view is nice and basic and gets the job done if you’re looking for a quick status update.
If your team uses a Scrum or Kanban board, your backlog provides a look into epic progress. This view has the added benefit of allowing you to drag and drop issues into an epic while you’re working. Simply navigate to your backlog and expand the epics panel along the left side to view all of the open epics that are part of your board. Just like the epic issue view, this provides a high-level insight into the progress of the work.
Additionally, if your team is using a Scrum board, you have Epic Reports and Epic Burndowns available to you as well.
The Epic Report and Epic Burndown
The Epic Report and Epic Burndown both provide insight into the progress of your epic. The Epic Report displays how much estimated work still needs to be completed. It also highlights the unknown by tracking your unestimated work as well and is particularly useful for planning work for an epic that could span multiple sprints.
Alternatively, the Epic Burndown lets you see how quickly your team is working through the epic and how work added or removed has affected their overall progress. Best of all, it gives a great view into the future, forecasting when the epic will be completed based on the estimated work remaining and your team’s sprint velocity.
Filters and Jira Query Language (JQL)
Once we get into filters and dashboards, you’re able to customize the views that you’d like to see.
From the Issue Navigator/Advanced Search in Jira, you can search for issues in one or more epics, and customize the displayed columns to show you other information you may want to see, like Assignee or any custom fields that are part of your project. You can either use Jira’s Basic Search to select your epic from the Epic Link dropdown, or you can use the following JQL:
“Epic Link” = DEV-1
If you are using a team-managed project, your JQL will look slightly different:
parent = DEV-1
You can save these searches as filters to revisit any time and share with your colleagues. You can also subscribe to your filters to get periodic updates sent to your inbox.
Jira dashboard gadgets
If you’re more of a visual person like I am, dashboards can be very powerful! Using out-of-the-box dashboard gadgets or the more customizable ones that you get with marketplace apps like Custom Charts for Jira, you can slice the data a hundred different ways. If you’re using the native gadgets, you can create a filter as described above and then use it to determine what shows in each gadget. With the Custom Charts for Jira gadgets, you can use a filter or avoid JQL entirely by selecting your filtering options from a dropdown.
Morgan is a Seattle born and raised lover of rain and software, particularly software that isn’t a pain in the bum (like some Atlassian tools can be). This is why she’s a Custom Charts for Jira superfan and jumped at the chance to contribute to the solution herself. She specializes in Agile, Scaled Agile, and ITIL in the Atlassian app space, loves a cross-country road trip, and is on a mission to find the cutest coffee shop in every town she visits.