You want to manage your Product Roadmap with Jira? This is a good place to start learning what you need to make the most out of it. I will specifically go through the Roadmap view and Epics.
The Product Roadmap view
In each project there is a section in the left navigation bar called Roadmap. In this view you can see a gantt reflecting epics duration and all the associated user stories, tasks, bugs and other issue types. When you open this section in Jira, you will see something similar to this. This one is taken directly from the Jira docs. It may differ from what you see in some details, as the Atlassian team makes continuous improvements in the tool.
What are Epics in Jira?
Epics are an issue type in Jira. They are the only issue types that can currently be mapped in a gantt view and they are used to group other issues that are related to a common goal or initiative. Epics often develop through a series of sprints.
Tips to use Epics in your Jira Roadmap
With this in mind, try to name your epics so that this is clear, and use outcomes instead of implementations or activities when you name your epics. Let’s look at a practical case: I have a project for my online courses. Each course is an epic, and I include all the tasks I need to do around the course. My epic names are “Release xyz course”. This is because the final outcome of all my work will be the publication of the material in teachable or LinkedIn Learning.
Inside of this Epic, I have different issues with more concrete activities. For exaple tasks to write and record each course, ideas for content I want to add to each course… When I use Jira for software projects at work, I create epics like “Better onboarding experience”. Inside this epic I add bug reports related to this experience, user stories for new things we want to implement in our software and tasks for data analysis exercises we want to run, ideas to evaluate and marketing tasks for any campaigns or announcements we want to run in relationship to the improvement of this experience.
When you are just starting a project, you can work directly from the roadmap view to create the high level plan. From this view you’ll be able to grain down your epics into tasks, user stories, bug and any other issue type you decide to create. This view is super helpful for product managers and for any other roles that want a high level view of the plan. While the product backlog is great to know what’s next, I find the roadmap gives a better view of the product plan.
Prioritizing and Estimating Epics in Jira
Jira lets you drag and drop epics to rearrange them according to their priorities and dependencies. You can also map dependencies between epics with links. Of course, as this is a gantt, you can define estimated durations for each epic. Jira lets you do this to the day, but I recommend you make your epics not more specific than monthly. Enough people have spoke about estimates and deadlines. I won’t go into this right now, but stay safe with high level delivery dates.
How to use epic colors in the Jira roadmap?
You can use Epic colors in many different ways. I tend to associate different colors to different work classes (such as marketing, product and strategy), to have different saturations for in progress vs planned, and often reserve green to completed epics and red to delayed epics:
- Dark grey and light grey for strategy epics – dark means to be started, light means in progress.
- Dark blue and light blue for feature epics – dark means to be started, light means in progress.
- Green for completed work – dark means in production, light means in staging.
I hope you found this article helpful. Epics are often a challenge for product teams and I find that, as soon as they’re properly understood, the organization of a team’s work in Jira gets much better. Epics are a great way for management roles to understand progress and keep track of things. As a product manger, using Epics has helped me understand and control my product roadmap better. I hope this will help you better manage your products as well!