4 min read

What is a Portfolio in Jira Align?

By Amanda Babb on Jun 21, 2021 1:55:35 PM

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Have you heard of Jira Align? I feel like we've told you about Jira Align. Maybe a few times. We here at Praecipio Consulting can't say enough about it. Its ability to manage agile-at-scale for enterprise organizations is unmatched. 

When implementing Jira Align or expanding your footprint, however, it's important to understand the objects in Jira Align, as well as their definitions. It's also critical that your organization agrees on these definitions as a whole. With that in mind, let's discuss the Portfolio in Jira Align. What it is according to the product, and more importantly, how to define it in your organization. 

What is a Portfolio in Jira Align? 

A Portfolio supports a value stream. What is a value stream? It's a specific set of solutions that deliver value to your customers whether internal or external. Where a lot of organizations make mistakes is thinking that a Portfolio is a grouping together of projects that need to be complete in a fiscal year. There is no regard for strategic alignment to themes, no consideration for investments, and may follow a business-unit-esque structure. This is NOT how agile-at-scale frameworks define Portfolios, nor how Jira Align defines them. In addition, Programs (aka teams of teams or Agile Release Trains) support a Portfolio. This ties the execution to the strategy in Jira Align. 

In Jira Align, a Portfolio has the following things: 

  • A Strategic Snapshot
  • One or more Program Increments (PIs)
  • A budget for the Snapshot
  • Strategic Themes with allocation to PIs
  • PI budgets established
  • PI budgets are allocated across the Programs
  • Blended rate established for the PIs
  • PI budgets, per program, have been allocated to Strategic Themes
  • Portfolio Epics are created and have been connected to a Strategic Theme, scored, swagged, budgeted, and targeted to one or more PI

Ok, that seems like a lot, right? And it is. In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "A goal without a plan is just a wish." While you may have established goals (e.g. increase new subscriptions by 15% over last year), without tying goals to the PIs, allocating a budget, then creating Portfolio Epics, you have a wish, not a plan. 

How Do I Define a Portfolio? 

Depending on your organization, you may have to take a step back and really examine how you operate. There are many questions to ask your organization: how do we deliver value to our customers? Which programs support the value delivery? Are these programs truly cross-functional and able to deliver from idea to value in the hands of the customer? 

At Praecipio Consulting, one of our Portfolios is Client Delivery. This Portfolio delivers value to our clients by providing professional services around the Atlassian products and complimentary technologies. The solution (professional services) drives the definition of the Portfolio. Our Client Delivery organization is the delivery mechanism and is grouped into two delivery programs: technical and process. While these are not mutually exclusive, they do require specialization on the part of the teams depending on the services needed from the client. 

Can you break your value delivery, solutions, and execution mechanisms in the same way? If you're struggling to do so, it may be time to reevaluate your organization's definition of a Portfolio before defining it in Jira Align. 

Once the Portfolio is defined in plain language, then examine which Program(s) will execute against the Portfolio. Remember, a Program is a team of teams organized around the value delivery of the solution to your customers. The Program operates in their cadenced PIs, creates and ties Epics and Stories together to the Portfolio Epics to estimate and complete work. Without these links, you will not be able to understand your progress, investments, or overall health of the Portfolio in Jira Align. 

Reporting on the Portfolio

I know I've said this before, but there are over 180 reports in Jira Align. However, the most commonly used object is the Portfolio Room. There are three tabs in the Portfolio Room out-of-the-box: Financials, Resources, and Execution. In all three views, you will always see the Program Increment Roadmap. This gives you an understanding of the planning and progress of the PIs.

  • The Financials tab provides Budget by PI, Estimates, and Actuals in a single glance as well as Theme Effort vs. Value and Theme Budget Allocation against the ranked Theme Priority. 
  • The Resources tab provides allocated resources by theme based on estimated work in the PIs as well as team-week allocation Theme Effort Distribution against the ranked Theme Priority. 
  • The Execution tab provides Theme Progress, Points, and team-week efforts as well as Theme Burnup based on the number of points accepted. 

Of course, the Portfolio room is configurable based on the KPIs relevant to your organization. And a Portfolio manager can drill into any or all of the items listed above in further detail either by a specific PI or multiple PIs. Simply update the Program Increments you'd like to focus on and the Portfolio Room will update the data specific to those timeboxes. While Jira Align will suggest reports under the Track section of the navigation menu, again, you can simply ask Jira Align to provide the report you need under the full Reports section. 

Jira Align makes it simple to understand the health of one or many Portfolios in your organization. Best Practice is to start with one, iterate until you get it right, then expand across other Portfolios when ready. Praecipio Consulting's deep expertise with agile-at-scale frameworks as well as intimate knowledge of Jira Align can provide you the needed support when you're ready to take your teams to the next level: contact us and see if Jira Align is a good fit for your organization.

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices portfolio portfolio-management reporting jira-align
7 min read

A Guide on How to Import Linked Issues into Jira from CSV

By Morgan Folsom on Nov 6, 2018 6:24:00 PM

This resource is for you if you've read Atlassian's documentation but are still confused on how to import linked issues.

Using the external system importer, Jira admins are able to import CSV spreadsheets into Jira to create new issues or update existing ones. This guide is an overview on how to use the External System Importer to create issue links. Note: This is not a comprehensive guide. Before reviewing this information you should understand Atlassian's guide on importing data from CSV. 

Requirements

Your file must meet the basic requirements described in the above-mentioned Atlassian reference material. For the different link types, any additional prerequisites are outlined below. 

How it works

When importing, each issue is assigned a unique ID, which is used when creating links. This ID can be the Issue Key, the Issue Id, or any Unique Identifier that you choose. Once the issues have been identified, you can link them in a variety of ways. 

What should I use for an ID?

  • Issue Key - Use this if the issue already exists in Jira. This is easiest if you are using data exported from Jira, as links export with Issue Key.
  • Other Unique Identifier - If the issue you're referencing doesn't exist in Jira yet, this is your option, which is particularly useful if you're importing linked data from another system that already has an ID assigned.

Examples

Sub-tasks and Parents

To create a sub-task/parent link, you use the Issue Id and Parent Id fields. Issue Id and Parent Id should each have their own columns in the spreadsheet. You can use whichever ID type you have decided on. In the below example, the issues are assigned consecutive numbers as IDs. This will work with any sub-task type issue types.

The spreadsheet should look something like this:

Issue Key
Issue Type
Summary
Issue ID
Parent ID
SCRUM-1 Story Ability to reserve an item for 2 hrs and return to it later 1  
SCRUM-2 Sub-task Create unit tests 2 1

When mapping the CSV columns to the fields:

Sub task and parent mapping in Jira

Importing Standard Link Types

If all of the issues in the spreadsheet are new (i.e., they do not exist in JIRA yet), you do not need to include an Issue Key. 

When importing issues using standard issue links (Epics, blocks, duplicates, etc.), you will follow a similar structure as before. You will still map Issue ID to a unique identifier, but instead of using Parent Id, you will use the specific link type. Each link type requires its own column, as shown below, allowing you to import multiple types of links at once. 

If any of the issues already exist in Jira, be sure to enter a value into the Issue Key field. You can import issues in any combination: whether all, some, or none of the issues already existing in Jira. 

Issue Key
Issue Type
Summary
Issue ID
Link "blocks"
Link "relates"
  Story As an admin, I'd like to import issues into Jira 123 456  
  Story As an admin, I'd like to link Jira issues 456   123

When mapping the CSV columns to the fields:

Importing standard link types in Jira

Here's an example of what one of the newly imported issues above looks like:

newly imported issues

It is important to note that Portfolio for Jira's parent linking functions differently than the standard issue links. Portfolio for Jira uses a custom field "Parent Link" to create the connection, and for this reason, it has different requirements for importing. 

For these links, you'll need to use the Issue Key, otherwise the field will not recognize any other IDs, which means that the issues must exist in Jira before you can create a Portfolio parent link via import. In this case, there needs to be a column with Issue Keys mapped to the Parent Link field. Note that all hierarchy levels above Epic use this same field, so you can have only one column. However, the Portfolio hierarchy must be respected; if you try to link an Initiative directly to a Story, for example, you will receive an error on import. 

The example below shows what it might look like if your hierarchy was configured as: Initiative - Epic - Story. The Epic would be linked to the initiative using the Parent Link field, but the Story is linked to the Epic through the Epic link. 

Issue Key
Issue Type
Summary
Link "Epic"
Parent Link
SCRUM-1 Story Make the server more efficient SCRUM-2  
SCRUM-2 Epic Blazing-fast server   SCRUM-3
SCRUM-3 Initiative World Class Product Experience    

 

Once imported, the issues appear in Portfolio like this:

Imported issues in Jira Portfolio

Now it's your turn to Import and Link!

Once you have your file prepped as described above, you can import issue links into Jira. If you run into any trouble, be sure to check:

  1. Your mappings -  Are the correct columns mapped to the right fields?
  2. Field values - Do I have the right values?
  3. IDs - Have I used the right type of ID mapping? 

As always, before importing large files, be sure to start with small amounts of data and test regularly. 

 

Now that you have your imported issues linked, feel free to check praecipio.com for other helpful tips on using the Atlassian tools.

Topics: jira atlassian blog how-to portfolio tips

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