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January 31, 2022

How to set objectives, goals in BigPicture?

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Firstly, Goals and objectives are sometimes used interchangeably. In BigPicture you can set goals-objectives using four modules: Roadmap, Gantt, Board, and Scope. Obviously, most users will select only one of them for that purpose. At this point, project management methodologies stake their claim. They interfere with the popular belief of what ‘goal’ and ‘objective’ words mean. Let’s explain how to set goals and objectives in Jira BigPicture, with agile, predictive, and hybrid methodologies in mind.

Goals vs. objectives in popular culture

A popular belief is that goals are long-term and direction-pointing, while objectives are specific, measurable, and do not reach further than several months ahead. Noticeably, both goals and objectives must be achievable.





Broad, long-term, yet achievable outcomeSpecific, measurable, tangible products and deliverables
Company goalsTeams’, individuals’ objectives
Goal indicates directionObjectives measure how one progresses

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Goals vs. objectives in Project Management

Project management frameworks surprise us with almost the opposite of what popular culture says about goals and objectives.

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) – the most popular methodology –  places objectives -counterintuitively – at higher, PI (Program Increment) level1, and goals – at lower, iteration level2.

Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), on the other hand, is more consistent with the popular understanding – goals in LeSS are more “general” than objectives. Examine this little quote: (…) the Team and the Product Owner may also devise the Sprint Goal. This is a summary statement of the Sprint objective, which ideally has a cohesive theme.3 Even here there is a caveat: the setting of both goals and objectives occurs at a low, Sprint level.

Scrum sees things in yet another way. One catch is that there are both long-term Product Goals and short-term Sprint Goals. To complicate the lives of linguistic purists even more, Scrum prescribes OKRs as means of linking Product Goals to Sprint Goals.4 And the OKR abbreviation spells out… Objectives and Key Results 😉

Conclusions? We think there are three:

  1. Do not bother with the whole goals vs. objectives battle 😉
  2. A decent portfolio management package is capable of both goals and objectives (BigPicture is).
  3. Upgrade to BigPicture Enterprise if your organization demands strict terminology. BigPicture Enterprise has modules and their names preset according to SAFe, LeSS, classic, hybrid management schools, for instance, Roadmap module can bear the ‘Goals’ label, consistently throughout the platform. You can later rename the modules to your liking.

Back to the point. How to set goals/objectives in Jira BigPicture?

How to set goals/objectives in BigPicture?

First and foremost use Roadmap module, as seen in figure 2. Roadmap is explicitly designed to accommodate both goals and objectives. Here is how – read this express tutorial:

  1. Set an ‘artificial’ goal/objective. Artificial means you can enter a vague term – no need to set up a Jira task.
  2. Or, nominate a Jira task to become a goal/objective.
  3. You can track the progress by using Count by Status or by Business Value progress bars.
  4. Set goals/objectives at Program Increment or Iteration (Sprint) level, or both. Also, notice how we have set cross-team (‘Main Objectives’) as well as team-specific objectives for the Program Increment 1 in figure 2.
  5. [optional] Rename the Roadmap module ‘Objectives’, ‘Goals’, or whatever your methodology prescribes. You need BigPicture Enterprise for this optional step.

Setting goals Big Picture roadmap

Figure 2. Setting goals and objectives in BigPicture Roadmap. Here, the Program Increment level is involved, as per Scaled Agile Framework. Or, you can disable the Program Increments, and use Sprints only.

Alternative ways of setting goals, objectives in BigPicture

Alternatively, you can set goals and objectives using Gantt, Board, and Scope modules. Who do we refer to those alternative methods?

Gantt – for date-sensitive goals/objectives

Gantt is the BigPicture’s tool of choice for those who operate on time-sensitive goals and objectives. Consider following this simple workflow, based on figure 3:

  1. Prepend selected higher-level tasks with the word ‘Goal’.
  2. Use milestones as objectives.
  3. To add the ‘Goal’ and ‘Objective’ words to the tasks’ names, use the ‘Edit’.
  4. Oversee objectives using the infobar, marked with ‘4’.
  5. Monitor how goals are progressing using the ‘Status’ column.


Set objectives in Gantt chart of Jira BigPicture - workflow

Figure 3. Setting goals and objectives and monitoring their progress in the BigPicture Gantt module.

There are two more modules you can use to set goals and objectives. Firstly, the Board module will appeal to agile teams and it works quite similarly to the Roadmap. Yet Board is more about the backlog, planning, and lower-level objectives than about strategy-level goals.

The Scope module (a.k.a. WBS), on the other hand, resembles the left pane of the Gantt chart. It is great for monitoring progress and is less about dates and deadlines. Therefore the Scope module will fit both classic and agile projects.


Goals vs. Objectives: The Simple Breakdown, Basha Coleman, HubSpot
1 PI Objectives, Scaled Agile Framework,
2 Iteration Goals, Scaled Agile Framework,
3 Sprint planning, More with LeSS,
4 Using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) in Scrum, Sep 2021,