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February 13, 2023

Improve daily WBS management with BigPicture

Gantt Project Management WBS & Backlog Structuring
Jerzy Żurawiecki Content Specialist @BigPicture

A Work Breakdown Structure is an indispensable project management tool. Whether you work in a Classic or Hybrid approach, it can help you visualize, structure, and oversee the project scope. Easier daily WBS management is one of many reasons why organizations use project management tools to oversee initiatives.

Work management tools like Jira provide managers with a Work Breakdown Structure. However, some of its aspects may only address some of the needs of team supervisors. Fortunately, Appfire’s BigPicture extends the capabilities of Atlassian’s work management software.

A holistic view of your project scope

The first improvement BigPicture offers in scope management is the ability to see the full scope of the initiative at once. Compared to Jira, where viewing the details of each task requires going into a given issue separately, it allows managers to see the entirety of work more clearly.

An example of a Work Breakdown Structure in BigPicture with corresponding visualization on a gantt chart
The two main elements of the Gantt module: a Work Breakdown Structure section and its visualization on the Gantt chart.

Work Breakdown Structure in the Gantt module is fully customizable in terms of the data you wish to display. You have a wide range of fields to choose from. If you only need to see the columns containing the most rudimentary information, such as task names, start and dates, task statuses, and assignees – they will be right there in just a few clicks.

However, you also have the option to display more in-depth data types regarding time tracking, costs, or risks, to name a few. Simply put, if you track it in your project, you can see it in your WBS in BigPicture.

The WBS with time tracking columns in BigPicture
A WBS with additional columns showing estimates and time tracking.

Structured import of the whole Jira project

If you’ve been managing an initiative in Jira for a long time, you might be apprehensive about visualizing the scope in a different tool. After all, you have lots of data contained there, and your project scope likely has a particular structure. Recreating it manually would take you a lot of time you’d rather spend doing something else.

The thing is, you can quickly recreate the existing Jira project to BigPicture while still retaining the task structure and all of the project data. To put the cherry on top, the entire process will take place automatically.

Structure-wise, BigPicture is able to mirror any phases, parent-child task relationships, and dependencies from your Jira instance in the Gantt module. As for the project data, it will also flow there seamlessly. Every field, every value. All of it.

Narrowing down the scope with Jira filters and JQL

What if you wanted to recreate a specific part of your project? For example, your initiative has been going on for a long time, and you’re only interested in the scope from the last 12 months. Does it mean you need to manually remove elements of the scope? Of course not.

That’s where the “narrow down” feature comes in handy. BigPicture lets you shrink the scope based on your Jira filters or JQL queries. That way, your WBS only shows the information pertinent to your needs.

WBS visualization

Even though the WBS is able to display all kinds of project data, looking at a list may not always suffice. Instead, managers have the option to see all the tasks on a Gantt chart.

With the entire scope laid out on a timeline with taskbars, it’s easier to see the duration of each chunk of work. Additionally, the dependencies between tasks are also neatly visualized. Thus, there is no need to get into a specific task to quickly see its relationship with other pieces of work.

In BigPicture, you can hide the WBS and work only on the Gantt chart.

Some Work Breakdown Structures may not account for relevant events that aren’t part of the project scope. For example, when stakeholders have to make a decision or there is a time period when their feedback is expected, it’s not a team-level task. Even though it affects the project’s timeline, not all tools provide a way to mark it in the WBS.

In BigPicture, you can use Basic Tasks to do so. It’s a data container that marks elements that aren’t tasks. In practical terms, project managers use basic tasks to visualize a project phase, allocate time for a review, or create a milestone.

Aside from visualization, the Gantt chart can be used to modify project data. For instance, to change the date of a task, just drag one end of the bar. Drawing a new dependency? A few clicks and a drag of a cursor to the related issue. All the adjustments you make are reflected in the WBS and in Jira right away.

Additional tools: critical path and what-if scenarios

The Gantt chart also lets managers see the critical path of the project. This helps make informed decisions regarding any potential changes in the initiative. After all, it highlights the tasks that need to be completed for the project to succeed on time.

Critical path of the project marks the immovable tasks.
An example of a critical path of a project.

Last but not least, using
what-if scenarios is an opportunity to create alternative realities of the project without impacting the actual scope, schedule, resources, or any other element of the initiative. Scenarios let you play with various factors and see how they would affect the bigger picture.

Bidirectional Jira synchronization

What’s great about BigPicture is that any updates your team makes in Jira are reflected in the WBS. For instance, when someone changes the status of their task, the value will also change in your project the Gantt module immediately.

The same happens in a reverse situation. Let’s say you see the need to extend the duration of a task. Simply change the end date in BigPicture, and the modification will apply to the issue details in Jira straight away.

Bidirectional synchronization covers all the built-in Jira fields you might use in your WBS as well as custom fields from Jira or BigPicture.

You might think there is a disconnect between managers overseeing work in one tool and the project team logging their work in another. However, since the two tools “talk to each other” all the time, the data is consistent across the board. In fact, using BigPicture with Jira allows your team to keep using their software of choice and gives managers the ability to oversee the initiative through a wider lens at the same time.

In-line editing

Managers often modify the scope while the project is in progress. In Jira, that would require going into a specific task and editing a selected field. But what if you need to modify 10 tasks? Or 50? Making changes in each issue page separately would take a long time.

In BigPicture, you can change most WBS fields using in-line editing. As a result, there is less travel between issue pages. Also, the change is visible in the context of the whole initiative straight away.

As soon as you make a change, it will be sent to the issue page in your Jira instance. This is critical when project team members use it to update their tasks. That way, they see the values you updated straight away. And they don’t even need to use BigPicture.

One-click structure modification: indenting and outdenting

Even though planning in Classic initiatives covers the creation of a Work Breakdown Structure, managers often need to modify the task structure when the project is in motion. Our tool makes such changes easier than ever before.

Turning a task into a sub-task? Just click the indent button and it’s done. The same is true for the opposite direction. With one-click indenting and outdenting, the structure changes are immediate, and you still have full control over the WBS.

Bidirectional sync ensures that the modifications made during daily WBS management are reflected in Jira instantly. Therefore, the information about newly formed relationships between tasks is visible to the team members who log their progress in Jira.

Search in context

In larger initiatives, the scope usually gets quite extensive. When looking for a particular task, seeing where it fits in the overlaying structure could prove beneficial. In BigPicture, that’s exactly what happens. The search result in your WBS is presented along with the superior issue or phase. Thus, you receive additional information about the task in a blink of an eye.

And if you want to see the given task in the entirety of your WBS, just click the “snipe to result” button. It will highlight the element you’ve searched for so that it stands out on the task list.

If WBS management in Jira is not enough to oversee your initiatives, you might want to add BigPicture to the stack of your Atlassian apps. Thanks to comprehensive visualization, an addition of an advanced Gantt chart, in-line editing, easy scope modification options, and contextual searching, your WBS management experience will fly to new heights. Start your free trial for 30 days and discover a better way to manage projects, programs, or even entire portfolios.