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Jan 21 an alternative point of view on Enterprise agile planning tools

When you search for a planning tool for an enterprise (a larger company), you are after a very special piece of software. Sure, you look for features, but a big buyer basically seeks a low-risk tool to align the board of directors with teams. Why does it pose a problem? Have the available solutions proved viable? What kind of thinking to employ when choosing an Enterprise agile planning tool for your company?

First, be aware of Gartner’s findings, see the pic below.


Enterprise agile planning tool

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from


They named AgileCraft (recently rebranded Jira Agile) the best Enterprise Agile Planning Tool. Gartner has found that AgileCraft/Jira Agile has both recognized accurately how the market evolves (the ‘Completeness of vision’ axis), and that they have a functional, beautiful, and convincing tool (the ‘Ability to execute’ axis).

What are the weaknesses of this approach?

The whole notion of a top-to-down, entirely agile organization grew out of the software industry. Responsible for roughly 5% of U.S. GDP, and about 23% of the U.S. equity market cap, the software industry is certainly gaining momentum. But will it dominate the U.S. and the world’s economy? Is software development going to replace agriculture, biotechnology, mining, transportation, healthcare? Of course not. One sentence from Gartner’s ‘Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools’ 2019 deserves recognition:

Most (62%) of the reference customers surveyed have been using their Enterprise Agile Planning tool for less than three years. This is in contrast to last year’s results, which saw over 50% with at least three years of use.

Clearly, enterprise agile planning tools are a relatively young market. As with any young industry, the path of its evolution is uncertain. Will a new, more effective trend in product management see daylight around 2025? It possibly could. Frameworks such as Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS), Disciplined Agile (DA), Nexus and Scrum at Scale, could then become obsolete, right?

Not to mention organizations in the traditional sectors, such as Financials, Communication Services, Industrials, Consumer goods, utilities or real estate. These, too, might want to have agile teams, but still keep their conventional, linear strategies.

Contrary to what its name might suggest, Jira Align is not Jira Software + some addon for high-level planning. Jira Align only loosely integrates with Jira Software, the latter being a true, very powerful task manager. So there is a gap between high-level planning and the tasks sitting in the Jira Software.

Impractical software might disappear

There are 17 players in the Magic Quadrant. How many of them will survive into the 2030s? Given the volatile business model, and the famous ‘Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.’ quote, we can safely assume not many. Can you afford and commit to a large framework that forces agility at all levels? Would you risk buying software affiliated with a single PM methodology? ‘Agile at scale’ is a relatively new trend, that the classic sectors have only begun to adopt, and they are facing plenty of challenges.

Any alternative, safer solution?

First, let’s realize this: the directors take care of the strategy and this often implies timeline-based project management. The low-level teams, on the contrary, have preferred the agile way of doing things for the last 10 or 20 years and they prefer product management. Even with our modern agile at scale software these two ‘wants’ are problematic to combine.

How did enterprises make it in the past? Well, a project manager would have had an MS Project instance with the proven Gantt chart module or even an MS Excel spreadsheet, and the teams would have reported to the PM and he would have kept track of the progress. This obviously resulted in inaccurate and lagging information for the management and it slowed down the whole process of alignment.

So, how to find the right Enterprise agile planning tool?

Seek the following traits when you research candidates. A good enterprise agile planning app should have all seven:

  • high-level project portfolio management (PPM) planning with resource management
  • cross-team, high-level agile boards (not just iteration-level, but also program increment-level)
  • product roadmaps
  • linear, classic tools, such as Gantt charts
  • native task manager
  • affiliation to an unsinkable task manager (Jira is currently the leader)
  • integration with popular team-level tools, such as Trello, local Jira instance, TFS (Azure DevOps Server), and Rally Software.

One such app is BigPicture for Jira, which will soon become standalone has its native task manager and Boxes, and it integrates or will integrate with tools that teams love (Trello, Jira, Azure DevOps). Yet, it’s SAFe-compliant. is a fully-fledged Enterprise Agile Planning, roadmapping, and PPM tool.

This doesn’t mean a halt for BigPicture for Jira. It will be further developed.


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.