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November 30, 2022

Jira reports: is there a better way?

Jira Project Management Reporting
Jerzy Żurawiecki Content Specialist @BigPicture

Being able to report the progress of initiatives swiftly is a vital pillar of project management. It helps stakeholders keep track of ongoing projects and oversee the larger picture of company efforts. While Jira reports are popular among teams worldwide, there are things the software could do better. Fortunately, the Atlassian Marketplace contains apps that take Jira reporting to the next level.

BigPicture, our PPM plugin, contains nine core modules that expand Jira’s capabilities. The Reports module is one of them. But is it an upgrade in any way? Let’s compare Jira reporting with its BigPicture counterpart and see how the two stack up.

Jira

Atlassian’s work management software has a dedicated space for reports. If you’re in a Jira project, the Reports tab is in the sidebar on the left. The tool contains 20 report types divided into three categories:

  • Agile,
  • Issue Analysis,
  • Forecast & Management.

Reports gather data from Jira issues and present it in various formats. Multiple visualization approaches are available in Atlassian’s software, from charts to diagrams to tables.

Where Jira reports shine

One of the main strengths of Jira in this area is the abundance of report types. As a result, you can present many metrics juxtaposed against one another or shown on a timeline.

A screenshot showing a list of report types available in Jira
The “Reports” tab in Jira shows the list of available templates.


The software supports some of the most popular use cases and frameworks. The most common report types for Scrum Teams include a 
Sprint Burndown Chart, a Velocity chart, and a Sprint report. Kanban practitioners can use the Cumulative Flow Diagram or a Control chart.

Furthermore, the software generates reports immediately. The values are based on the data generated from all Jira issues related to a given project. Therefore, the information in the reports is accurate. As long as the team members maintain their issues correctly, that is.

Where Jira reports could improve

One of the main constraints of Jira reports is that they only apply to the project level. Naturally, for Project Managers, that might be enough. However, if you want to present data regarding a broader range of initiatives, Jira simply won’t suffice.

This is especially visible on the portfolio level. After all, reporting is one of the Portfolio Management Processes. Therefore, a comprehensive tool should allow reporting and aggregation of a multitude of projects. It is not the case in Jira reports.

A screenshot showing various reports in BigPicture
An example of portfolio-level reports in BigPicture Enterprise.


As far as the types are concerned, some lack customizability.
Sure, it reduces the number of clicks needed to create a report. But it’s often impossible to replicate in Jira if you want to present data for specific fields or consider additional information. In this case, reliance on templates is a double-edged sword.

Lastly, certain things are impossible to showcase in Jira. Dependencies, milestones, and team capacity are the most glaring absences in Jira reports.

Now, let’s see how BigPicture tackles this area of project management.

BigPicture

The idea behind our software is to provide a single source of truth and get the bigger picture of projects, programs, and portfolios. Thus, the approach to reporting is a little different than Atlassian’s flagship product. Instead of replicating the Jira report options, BigPicture contains three report types:

  • Task count,
  • Risk matrix,
  • Team dependencies.

These three groups provide reporting functionalities unavailable in Jira. They let users quickly check the task’s state in various contexts, monitor risks on a two-dimensional matrix, and see which project parts are handled by multiple teams.

With BigPicture Enterprise, you have even more reporting possibilities at your disposal. You can measure and present dependencies, milestones, velocity, capacity, and baseline-based delays.

Reporting types in BigPicture and BigPicture Enterprise
The report types available in BigPicture and BigPicture Enterprise.


Another difference concerns visibility. Think of BigPicture’s Reports module as a dashboard where you can view all the reports simultaneously. Compared to a single-type view in Jira, it offers more information at a glance and requires fewer inputs to access multiple reports. You can modify the width of each one and change their order using drag and drop.

Where BigPicture’s Reports module shines

Portfolio-level reporting

One of the main advantages Appfire’s PPM software holds over Jira is portfolio reporting. While the latter only operates on the task level, BigPicture supports reporting on the entire portfolio of initiatives. You can make use of this functionality in multiple ways, such as:

  • Mapping risks of all the initiatives,
  • Generating a list of all the milestones and markers with sources,
  • Monitoring the relationships between tasks on a larger scale,
  • Aggregating selected values from all tasks,
  • Monitoring team velocity during Sprints,
  • Verifying delayed tasks, projects, and programs,
  • Measuring the capacity of teams and individual members,
  • Assessing Sprint progress,
  • Monitoring the number of errors.

Report personalization options

Another perk of using BigPicture for reporting is customizability. You can report on up to three sets of values in whatever order you need. On top of that, BigPicture reports support JQL filtering for even more precise configuration.

A task report in BigPicture with a JQL filter
The JQL filter field opens nearly limitless customization possibilities.


Once you create a report, you can quickly change it by modifying measured metrics to tailor it to your needs in a given context. It’s a much faster solution than building one from scratch.

Another advantage of using BigPicture’s Reports module is the ability to visualize more granular data with a single click. Considering you can group three metrics at once, the task report allows you to access more in-depth information in a layered manner quickly. Take a look at the recording below:


First, you can see the distribution of statuses across the entire project. When you click on a status, you will get information about specific assignees and their contributions in this particular field. What if that’s not enough for you? There is a third level of data available. You can quickly gather insights about the priorities of tasks assigned to each team member.

This is just one example of how you can utilize multi-level data visualization. You can include countless Jira and BigPicture fields in your reports and present aggregated information the way you need to.

Where BigPicture could improve

No software is perfect. So let’s put bias aside and try to look objectively at reporting in BigPicture. One of the areas where Appfire’s tool might seem lacking is time-based report types. While you can set the date ranges of your reports, you won’t see the data on a timeline.

However, it’s not an oversight. Since BigPicture enhances Jira’s functionality, the tool focuses its efforts on where it’s needed the most. After all, Jira has a lot to offer regarding timelined data presentation. As the popular saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

BigPicture improves the Jira reporting experience

The two tools don’t stand in opposition to one another. That’s why saying “X is better than Y” is not the right approach. BigPicture amplifies Jira’s functionalities by adding a new level of reporting and a host of other features.

The most beneficial upgrade of Appfire’s PPM tool is the ability to report on the entire portfolio. Moreover, users can create personalized reports in a blink of an eye. The contents of the reports are derived from Jira issue data, so the work management software is an integral part of BigPicture.

Speaking of Jira, it also has a few aces up its sleeve. The first one is the vast number of report types. Whether they are Agile-specific ones or not, there is a lot for project managers to choose from. Whatever the tool lacks (reporting dependencies, risks, etc.), BigPicture is there to fill in the gaps.

If you want to take your reporting capabilities to the next level, the combination of BigPicture and Jira will cover all your needs.