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March 04, 2021

8 most common mistakes users make in BigPicture

System Administration
Anna Fedorska Content Marketing Manager

We all make mistakes, as it’s a human thing… and mistakes are the best lessons for both personal and professional growth. To prevent or minimize them in our day to day life, we implement more and more technology to automate our operations and decrease the level of potential errors. Unfortunately, it is still inevitable for mistakes to occur, as the automated processes usually require a certain level of expert knowledge to adjust the systems to one’s specific needs. While analysing our support tickets and conversations our consultants have with BigPicture users, we have noticed certain patterns of mistakes managers and admins make when configuring and using our flagship product. To prevent any further confusion we have compiled the most common mistakes our customers make while using BigPicture and briefly explained how to solve them.

1. Confusing Boxes with Box types

By now, we are more than sure, you are pretty familiar with the concept of Boxes, which was introduced with the launch of BigPicture 8. It was a pivotal moment for our users to adopt this new feature. Although, some are still not using the system to its full potential and confusing the “tree-like structure” of Boxes, with Box types.

Boxes are flexible management spaces for tasks. BigPicture allows within these spaces to combine agile and classic projects, products, Agile Release Trains (SAFe ARTs), Requirement Areas (LeSS), and many more. Furthermore, they empower to manage initiatives and to track the progress of diversified portfolios. Boxes can source tasks from third-party tools, and anytime during their lifecycle their configuration can be perfected.

With Boxes in BigPicture you can manage the following areas:

  • Scope (Box Configuration and Business Administration)
  • Dependencies between Tasks (Board and Gantt modules)
  • Allocated resources (Resources and Gantt modules) 
  • Key Deadlines / Milestones (Markers) 
  • Goals and Objectives (Roadmap module)
  • Risks (Risks module)

Box Types are like templates to create a Box, that can be edited and adjusted to your evolving organization. You can use preconfigured Box Types (frameworks), or you can amend their settings to suit your needs.

BigPicture Box Types:

  • Program Box 
  • Program Increment 
  • Iteration

BigPicture Enterprise additional Box types:

  • Portfolio
  • Waterfall project
  • Hybrid project
  • Agile project
  • Waterfall stage
  • Hybrid stage
  • SAFe ART
  • LeSS requirement area

2. Confusing Box Hierarchy with Task Hierarchy (Work Breakdown Structure)

Another similar confusion is mixing up Box Hierarchy with Task Hierarchy (Work Breakdown Structure). 

Box hierarchy, the way we see Boxes order, is dependable on the scope definition. Within scope definition you can define a range of tasks available in a Box. There are 3 different types based on scope information:

  • None – No tasks inside, just a grouper
  • Own-scope – List of all tasks connected with Jira projects (listing Jira issues)
  • Sub-box – List of tasks filtered from an Own-scope Box

A screenshot from the overview of a Hybrid project in BigPicture

Task hierarchy (WBS – Work Breakdown Structure) can be generated automatically, or built manually. You can pre-configure your own hierarchy by using task structure builders. Of course, only Box admin access will allow you to change this configuration in the Task Structure, however, it’s a great option to have. You can save your favourite configuration and use it as a template. Presenting structure builders like: project, epic, or sub-tasks in the desired order, and how one is dependable on another. This will determine the hierarchy indicating the highest to the lowest level in the structure (drill-down order). 

Example of Task structure builders in order:

  1. Project
  2. Epic
  3. Sub-task

BigPicture > Administration > Select Box type > Tasks > Scope definition / Task structure

A screenshot of the Gantt module in BigPicture.

3. Attempting to create conflicting task structures

Also, worth mentioning are the conflicting task structure builders. As a general rule, the application cannot duplicate the same task. Hence, when selecting structure builders it is crucial to create a defined process. As an effect of the wrongly built structure, a task will be nested under a structure builder, which has a higher priority (higher on the list).

An infographic outlining the most popular conflicts in BigPicture.

4. Defining incorrect task start and end date

Synchronizing Jira Tasks with BigPicture can be really easy, as long as you map all the data correctly. If you already use date fields in Jira, such as Due date, simply map them and BigPicture will synchronize tasks accordingly. One important point, which quite often is omitted, is to remember in the Gantt all your tasks should have their start and end points defined on the timeline. This has to be done in the planning stages and configured manually, as otherwise, tasks will automatically source the creation date as a start date, with a duration period of just one day, and when the end date is not defined, the system will select the following day as the end date. This process has to be mapped in the Jira Administration BigPicture Technical configuration panel to avoid unintentional updates of the schedule.

Jira Administration > BigPicture Technical configuration > Managed apps > General synchronization settings


5. Searching for data aggregation in wrong places

Aggregation of statuses and time tracking is a very useful feature to make accurate business decisions. BigPicture has a very unique advantage as it’s capable of aggregating time at very low-level elements, such as sub-tasks or stories. However, some users struggle to see the results of the aggregation process. This information will be visible on the parent level. The visibility of this function is not always automated. For this reason, one should remember to configure the system accurately. Starting with simply adding the time tracking column and then selecting aggregation depending on data you wish to receive.

6. Incompatibility in mapping teams in BigPicture

Labels make our life simpler. Labelling tasks helps to keep track of work, progress, and teams that are respectively responsible for delivery. Quite often, moving from Jira to BigPicture we notice a deficiency in information about teams. Good configuration of the system helps us to ensure no information is missing and accurate resources are responsible. BigPicture uses “Team task field” to store Team codes assigned to tasks, which can be mapped onto any Jira Labels or Single Select Custom Field. That’s why the codes must be unique within a given Box. You need to remember to create a bridge for information to read labels accurately. In scope definition and in technical configuration, we must remember to select the appropriate team task field, so the mapping of this process is synchronized.

Administration > Technical configuration > Modules > Resources > Labels

7. Confusing BigPicture with BigPicture Enterprise

It is confusing, but it’s not. BigPicture is our flagship product ideal to manage and view the progress of your Portfolio, Products and Projects with information clarity on all management levels. BigPicture Enterprise is an extension of BigPicture, which offers you the next level of customization and flexibility, with but not only unlimited Boxes and what-if scenarios. Please keep in mind that you need BigPicture first to be able to get BigPicture Enterprise. To learn more about differences, or similarities; depending on the angle you take, I highly encourage you to check my colleague’s article: BigPicture vs. BigPicture Enterprise. Who needs what.

8. Not reading the documentation

We know it is easy to contact support with any issue and we’re always happy to help. However, to set a new support ticket, you need to provide all the necessary information about your system, hosting platform, Jira type, etc. which might be a bit daunting. If you like to find answers on your own, you will be delighted to know we do have our own wiki. It’s a great platform where you can find answers to your current question, but also a source of information to deepen your knowledge of the system. We continuously work on improving the quality of information, readability, and clarity of every section. You can find it here. However, the easiest way to access it is directly from the BigPicture main bar, under the Help Center.