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Jan 10

BigPicture administration / configuration explained

BigPicture administration configuration explained

BigPicture is so flexible and scalable that it has three “levels” of configuration/administration. And there is logic to it. The app’s initial “one-time” configuration is separated from everyday business administration. That’s because the former belongs to a Jira admin, while the latter to project managers. Further down the chain of events, there is the third, initiative-level configuration, at which a project manager can “overwrite” central settings to customize and personalize the project.

BigPicture is more than a product/project management app – it is a portfolio management app, too. It has both “company-wide” (pre-)configurations, such as workload plans, holiday plans, templates of projects, as well as it does have actual projects, the settings of which can be updated later by responsible project managers.

Can you locate the doorways to all three areas of configuration in figure 2? If you’ve just purchased BigPicture and are new to the app, try sticking to the following order of configuration steps:

Step Description Role
1. App configuration Jira admin’s area. Ideally – one time in a lifetime Jira admin
2. Administration “Central”, company-wide settings, such as workload plans, holiday plans, and project templates. To be done by PMO, or – in small and medium businesses – by a detail-oriented mid-level manager/Jira admin/HR role. BigPicture admin
3. ‘Configure’ at the initiative level The responsibility of the project manager assigned to the project. Here, they can overwrite some presets done at the ‘2. Administration’ level. Box admin


Figure 2. The doorways to the three configuration-administration spaces are seen in BigPicture Overview, on Jira Server and Data Center hostings. Jira Cloud has a slightly different user interface.

On a related note, while most users appreciate over time how BigPicture can scale and adapt to medium, and large organizations’ circumstances, we occasionally see trials that give up after a day or two. We believe these abandonments often stem from the very fact that people overlook one of the three configuration/administration spaces. Or, a space or two might have been hidden from them by a Jira admin or BigPicture admin.

You might be wondering why the three and not just one configuration area exist in BigPicture. This has to do with the scalability of the app. The three configuration domains roughly correspond to the responsibilities of the Jira admin, HR/mid-level management, and project manager. Of course, feel free to replace the project manager with a product manager or team leader in an agile environment.

Let’s briefly discuss BigPicture’s three administration and configuration spaces. Most of the content applies to BigGantt, as well.

1. App configuration

BigPicture initial configuration area sits within… Jira’s Administration space. Have a look at figure 3. We have accessed Jira Administration, then the ‘Manage apps’ tab, and then the ‘BigPicture configuration’ left menu item.

This is what the Jira admin role of your organization looks at, primarily when BigPicture is being installed. For instance, you can map a Jira field to a BigPicture field here. Or map a Jira issue link to a BigPicture task dependency. Now, locate the General, Modules, Integrations, Widgets, Security, Licence, and Advanced tabs in figure 3. Don’t they sound technical, project-independent, and frankly, maintenance-free, once properly set? The ‘Integrations’ tab, for instance, points to a Jira instance on top of which your BigPicture sits. Read more in docs.

Done properly, the App configuration is of the ‘one time in a lifetime’ kind and to be forgotten later.

Figure 3. Jira’s ‘Manage apps’ tab reveals the most general, technical, global settings of BigPicture. Here you set how BigPicture communicates with Jira.

If you are just a user, not the Jira admin, you might not have access to BigPicture’s app configuration. Yet there is a hack. Launch the BigPicture demo, and explore app configuration, from there, enjoying Jira admin rights.

Now, pay attention to the ‘Security’ tab in figure 3, somewhat obscured by the drop-down menu. Having completed the app configuration go to that ‘Security’ tab and locate the ‘Assign Roles’ button there. The button will take you to the next big space – Business administration.

2. Business administration

By entering BigPicture’s business administration, you are leaving the technicals behind, and begin pre-configuring the real project-related work.

Start by appointing app administrator(s) – the one(s) of BigPicture, not of Jira. A detail-oriented mid-level manager makes a great app administrator. An HR manager could be made the BigPicture administrator, too, since the business administration is much about workload plans, holiday plans, and skills, and resources in general.

Why did we say ‘pre-configuring the project-related work’ and not just ‘configuring’? Starting version 8, BigPicture has advanced to the PPM league and has now initiative “templates”, or “prototypes” if you will. You can preset these templates within the business administration or leave the default ones untouched. Project managers can later reuse them, by simply cloning the template. For instance, the ‘Agile Project’ preset, as seen in figure 4, could have very different column views than the ‘Classic project’ one. For flexibility, however, even if a project manager clones a preset, they will be able to “overwrite” its settings later – see the next chapter.

Figure 4. BigPicture Enterprise business administration. HR-related and the real project-related configuration begins here.

Other than the ‘Box types’ tab, the business administration has a few other enterprise-level tabs – Resource manager, Workload plans, Holiday plans, Skills. Again, this is why a detail-oriented HR person could be allowed to the Business administration, too. Use the ‘Security’ tab to nominate another person the App Admin.

Read more in docs

3. Configure (a project)

We are stepping down to the project-level configuration. In most organizations, the third of the three configuration steps happens as late as once a project has been launched. Obviously, the responsible project manager rules here, and they must be a Box admin to be able to update the project’s settings. To nominate a Box admin, click the ‘Security’ left menu item in the highlighted area in figure 5.

Unlike the App configuration and Business administration, the doorway to the configuration area of a project is to be found within the Overview/home BigPicture’s screen, and specifically in the small drop-down menu in the initiative’s row, as shown in figure 5.

Figure 5. Initiative-level configuration.



The three spaces you can configure BigPicture with reflect the fact that BigPicture is a scalable portfolio management app and not just a project management app.

Also, they help set user rights properly and limit access to enterprise-level reporting.

To recap: first, a Jira admin makes the initial settings within Jira administration.

Then, the BigPicture administrator(s) does the resource configuration and (optionally) project templates pre-configuration using the BigPicture’s business administration space for that.

Later on, as the work on projects progresses, project managers may update the settings of the projects they are responsible for.

Figure 6. Both the App configuration and Business administration and the Configuration of a specific project are accessible from the top right corner of any BigPicture module.

Notably, all three configuration spaces are also accessible from the context of BigPicture modules – Gantt, Roadmap, Board, etc. Look for them in the top right corner of a module, as seen in figure 7. Of course, you need proper user rights to see all three.


Management trends in 2022-2026

Jan 2022
Firstly, why does BigPicture have modular and not monolithic architecture? Freely choose a set of 3, 5, 7, or whatever number of the 10 BigPicture modules, and arrange them into a workflow. Mix hybrid, agile, and classic project management approaches. Read more.

Jan 2022
Secondly, there is logic to the three layers of BigPicture’s administration/configuration. The app’s initial “one-time” configuration is separated from everyday business administration. A project manager can “overwrite” central settings to customize and personalize the project. How to do the configuration and administration in BigPicture?

Dec 2021
Thirdly, some managers do keep track of resources, while others don’t. It tends to be problematic to “calculate” whether the whole resource management thing will eventually pay off. Let’s check when resource management usually does make sense. And eventually, why do some project managers deliberately skip resource management? What could you lose doing resource management poorly?

About The Author

With his automotive background Marcin goes beyond the 'Jira + software development' standard. He likes simple, up-to-five-sentence answers to complex questions.