Are you considering upgrading your organization’s BigPicture instance to version 8? While all Cloud users are already enjoying the most up-to-date version of the app, customers with Jira Server and Data Center have the freedom to choose whether or not to upgrade, and as so – to choose the most convenient moment for that. BigPicture 8 differs significantly from version 7, but rather than going into too much detail, let’s name the eight top reasons to upgrade.
1. You can blend Agile and Classic project into one portfolio
There are many apps on the Atlassian Marketplace whose authors claim they support a mix of methodologies. However, once you take a closer look at many of those products, you soon realize that this statement is true only for some families of methodologies – agile ones, for example. BigPicture 8, in turn, introduces a revolutionary concept of Boxes, thanks to which it can be used to manage portfolios consisting of diverse agile, classic, and even hybrid initiatives. Boxes are universal, multifunctional, deeply customizable management spaces for tasks, deliverables, resources, risks, and… other Boxes. Each of the Boxes behaves differently: in BigPicture 8, you can effectively manage a PRINCE project, a SAFe program, a LeSS or a Spotify product, or a hybrid undertaking.
Boxes are the single valid reason to upgrade to BigPicture 8.
Thanks to Boxes, BigPicture is a future-proof solution that will adjust to the changes in your company, such as the evolution of your portfolio management strategy.
Before version 8, the portfolio in BigPicture was just a flat list of programs. Whether you needed a new project, ART, or portfolio, you had to create a new BigPicture program. Programs could not be nested into one another. Besides, various PM methodologies do not clarify what the ‘program’ actually is. With BigPicture 8 you can create and manage not just one, but a number of hierarchical portfolios, each of which may consist of various Boxes.
Example: A fast-food chain implements more and more projects/products incrementally. However, for the ‘Balance taste with calories’ initiative, a subcontractor was hired, so the classic, predictive scheduling must be used. We see such environments quite often. With BigPicture 8, it is no longer a problem! You can use a mix of’ ‘Agile Project’ and ‘Classic project’ Boxes in your organization’s portfolio so that those different approaches can coexist and the initiatives conducted within each of them can be tracked and managed all in one place.
2. You can use predefined project templates or design your own
You can now save time by creating Boxes from predefined Box types – preset templates of agile projects, classic projects, SAFe ARTs, phases, LeSS Requirement Areas, and more. You are always just a few clicks away from adding a new, ready-to-use Box to your portfolio’s tree.
Has your organization developed a custom in-house PM methodology? Perfect! With BigPicture Enterprise, you can:
- create your own Box types, such as ‘Marketing project’, ‘Technical initiative’, or ‘Promising experiment’. It’s not just the names – each of your in-house Box types can have a selection of BigPicture modules enabled. The rules of planning or resource management can differ from one Box to another,
- arrange Boxes into predefined sequences, such as the Marketing project Box could only allow ‘Marketing campaign’ Boxes inside,
- rename BigPicture modules. For instance, the Gantt module, once used in the ‘Marketing campaign’ context, could be labeled ‘Media plan’.
Note that you need BigPicture Enterprise for the three bullets to be functional.
Example: Your company uses a complex, hybrid approach to management – SAFe for iterative development of a product and an in-house methodology for marketing operations. BigPicture Enterprise 8 provides pre-configured ‘SAFe ART’, ‘Program Increment’, and ‘Iteration’ Box types for the product part. For the marketing part of your portfolio, in turn, there is the ‘Add new Box type’ button which enables building a custom ‘Marketing campaign’ Box type, to easily give birth to new marketing campaigns with, say, just the Gantt and Calendar modules applied.
3. You can track progress at the portfolio level
Before BigPicture 8, the major function of the home screen was to let the user drag and drop programs from ‘To do’, to ‘In progress’, to ‘Done’. Each program had its progress bar, but those bars were indicating only the point between the start and end date in a given moment.
In BigPicture 8, the home screen has been converted into a comprehensive portfolio-level overview. While more informative, the Overview also refreshes faster than its predecessor. Soon, we’ll add charts and custom column sets to the Overview module. Aren’t these valid reasons to update to BigPicture 8?
—Overview allows Portfolio Managers to monitor work progress and health of different projects, portfolios, and the overall company strategy. The key business metrics build on data aggregated and calculated at the root, portfolio, or project levels – says Lukasz Romaniuk, Product Consultant at SoftwarePlant.
4. You can create diverse What-if scenarios
Scenarios, also known as a sandbox mode, have long been awaited by the BigPicture community. They have finally debuted in BigPicture 8 (and the corresponding BigGantt 8). What-if scenarios are becoming available in the redesigned Gantt module – the heart of the two popular project management solutions for Jira. BigPicture Scenarios let you play in the sandbox to craft diverse possible flows of initiatives. For instance, compare an optimistic schedule with a pessimistic one, or a loaded product with its MVP equivalent. Once you find the best-fitting scenario, you can commit it to the production schedule. Note that:
- the impact of risks, potential delays, and resource shortages are some factors you could test with scenarios,
- prior to merging a scenario, no changes are committed to the underlying Jira or Trello,
- the scenario history popup window lets you undo one or more changes at a time,
- your published scenarios will be available to other users in your organization in the Scenarios drop-down menu,
- you can create an unlimited number of scenarios in BigPicture Enterprise. The standard version of BigPicture lets you create one private and one public scenario.
5. You can source tasks from 3rd party tools, such as Trello
Now that we have explained how powerful Boxes are – see reasons 1 to 3, and also 8 – let’s move on to another feature that makes BigPicture 8 a milestone version: the third-party tool support. At the time of writing, you can connect to Trello and add Trello cards to the scope of any initiative set in BigPicture. Soon, you’ll be able to integrate BigPicture with Azure DevOps as well as with multiple Jira Server/Cloud instances. More integrations will follow.
Thanks to the multi-platform support:
- your teams can keep the tools they love,
- you can synchronize the scope of their, say, Trello board with a BigPicture Box of your choice,
- senior management and your PMO can keep an eye on the progress of the entire portfolio. Even if its parts reside beyond Jira.
—Once connected, you can add Trello boards, including Cards, Lists, CheckItems, Checklists, to the scope of your Boxes and have all your work in one place. Each BigPicture-Trello connection has dedicated sections to define the scope and types of tasks to synchronize, as well as the task structure – explains Lukasz Romaniuk.
6. You can enjoy the more powerful than ever Gantt module
At SoftwarePlant we call them Gantt charts 2.0. They can handle more tasks than ever, and for the large portfolios that overflow your computer’s screen, there is a bird’s-eye view inset available, so you can navigate even the most complex charts truly effortlessly.
The redesigned Gantt charts. Visually and functionally updated.
7. You can distribute workload truly smartly – with workload contouring
Workload contouring is available in the Resources module of BigPicture 8. The contouring boils down to four modes of effort distribution: accelerated, standard, delayed, and manual.
Example: Let’s suppose John works Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, forty hours per week. John was assigned a task for a Monday to Friday timebox, but the task was estimated to a mere 20 hours. Before BigPicture 8, John’s capacity would have been evenly reduced by four hours per day.
In BigPicture 8, four modes of distribution are available:
- Manual (Enterprise feature)
If John chooses the ‘Front-loaded’ mode for the task, he’ll ensure the Task receives his attention first – eight hours on both Monday and Tuesday, and four hours on Wednesday.
If John selects the ‘Manual’ mode, he’ll be able to allocate his daily capacity arbitrarily, for instance, six hours on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday each, and two hours for Friday.
8. You can give BigPicture modules names relevant to your methodology and insider jargon
The last of the top eight reasons to upgrade to BigPicture 8 is that you can now relabel the modules. For example, if you like the Gantt module, but its name could be confusing for some users as your organization aims to be fully agile, you can call it, say, “Timeline”. The feature is available for BigPicture Enterprise users.
Example 1: You can replace the ‘Gantt’ module name with ‘Roadmap’ or ‘Agile epic plan’ label, but only if it is used within a Program Increment or iteration. Beyond the PI and iteration Boxes, the module will continue acting under the Gantt name.
Example 2: The Resources module resembles a handy short-term planning tool for your team of 10. Feel free to relabel it ‘Schedule’.
Terminology can vary from organization to organization or even between teams. In BigPicture 8, you can change the names of the modules in just a few clicks.
The list goes on and on
So there you have it – the top eight reasons to upgrade to BigPicture 8. The flexible Boxes and the integration with popular solutions, such as Trello, stand atop the podium. BigPicture 8 is certainly a portfolio-oriented system. It also delivers new modules and features, such as the what-if scenarios, workload contouring, redesigned Gantt charts, and a new Calendar module.
If you liked BigPicture 7 as it was, here is another factor to consider: stability increased in BigPicture 8, numerous bugs got fixed, minor features upvoted by customers were finally implemented. Check the list of features that debuted in BigPicture 8, ordered by the customer rank.