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Jan 10

Is Jira a viable and risk-free Project Management tool?

Jira for project management, market share, features‘Is Jira a viable project management tool?’ – are you ready for a different perspective on this eternal question? Short answer: technically, it’s not that great for an average industry. Long answer: for the last 20 years, Jira has only been winning the market share. Why?

Jira diversifies your risks. It prevents you from choosing the wrong project management software. If you’ve ever launched new software in an organization of a decent size, you must be aware of how expensive and resource-consuming the process tends to be. Even worse, chances are you’ve chosen – yes – the wrong software. Or, for some reason, the package is going to die within the next five years. Of course, you don’t know that yet ;) I did it two times in my career, only to discover that the third software package that we paid millions for was still not perfect. The other two disappeared from the market. In other words, it took my client a decade to settle down on the so-so software.

Jira may initially look like aspiring project management software. Still, the more you dig, the better you understand why people choose Jira as their project management tool.

Reason 1: Is Jira the leader?

Some claim Jira is already the leader, leaving Microsoft Project far behind. Sure, there are well-established packages, such as Oracle Primavera or Trello, but hard data is merciless for them – see the below ranking:

Project management software by market share

Source: Datanyze. Project management software by market share.

Remember dBASE or Altavista? Of course, they have been dead for a while. Also, think of all the cryptocurrencies currently in circulation, there are some 6,000 of them, many are gone already. When you commit to a software package, you take a risk of seeing your program of choice passing away. How likely is it that the leader will disappear from the market? Still, it is possible. So, next, we’ll see how Jira and others are trending.

Reason 2: Is Jira trending?

Neither Jira nor Microsoft Project is perfect. With no project management add-on on top, Jira Software has just Scrum and Kanban boards, and until recently, it didn’t even know what the timeline was. On the other hand, Microsoft Project is a mature solution but is thought of as a ‘classic’ tool, not flexible enough in agile times. Which of the two is more likely to advance or innovate in the future, given the below trend chart?

Trending project management apps

Source: Google Trends

Reason 3: Jira has an addons marketplace. It’s a good thing in 2020-2030

Since few project management apps are perfect, and you can’t control how they evolve, wouldn’t it be reasonable to favor flexibility, namely ones that have addons marketplaces? Plugins usually cost nothing compared to the core software, but they reduce your risks of a flop. An app from Atlassian Marketplace lets you convert Jira to a powerful project management app. Why is it more important than ever in 2020?

We all feel how the post-war order is coming to an end – think fiat currencies, the Washington Consensus, etc. We can safely say the world will be very different in 2030 from what we know today, and this may influence the project management industry, too. We’ve seen the agile revolution, but can you tell what’s going to be hot in 2030? Wouldn’t it be safer to choose a ‘democratic’ project management software, one that allows third parties to supply missing components? And yes, you can drop a miserable plugin after a year or two, keeping your Jira database untouched.

Currently, there are four to eight, depending on how you count, ‘blue chips’ that strive to convert Jira into a visual, high-medium-low-level project management software:

BigPicture – probably the most universal and cost-effective project management app for Jira. It has both classic (Portfolio/Program manager, Gantt chart, Resources, Risks, Teams), and modern (Scope, Roadmap, Program Board, Agile Reporting) modules. BigPicture has an extensive administration panel, so it’s very configurable, yet it takes slightly longer to learn for an admin.

Advanced Roadmaps – primarily a roadmapping app. It has its famous automated scheduling and is less configurable than BigPicture. See BigPicture vs. Advanced Roadmaps.

Structure – a powerful work breakdown structure, less visual, more datasheet-like than others. Check BigPicture vs. Structure.

Tempo Planner – a resource management-centered app. Tempo tries to optimize the allocation of your teams. Compare Tempo Planner with BigPicture.

Aha! – highly-rated roadmapping addon, less integrated with Jira than others. Compare Aha! with others.

Jira Align – high-level, portfolio management app; contrary to what the name might suggest, it’s currently loosely integrated with Jira Software. Compare.

Reason 4: a word about prices

When Jira Software Cloud for 100 users costs $700/month1, BigPicture only costs $257/month1. Consider this ratio in terms of your risks. What you get for the $700 is essentially a potent task manager. You can’t bet wrong here, right? But what if you are wrong with the remaining $257:

  • you can swap one Jira project management plugin for another one en route
  • this way you get an entirely new feature set, look and feel
  • you keep the database with your tasks, you simply attach and detach a plugin
  • you avoid finding yourself cornered by some big software product that you had put too much money into

1 at the time of writing. You can also host Jira on the site with the Server edition.


Now, have a look at how these plugins convert Jira to a high-level Project Portfolio Management tool:

Kanban and Scrum teams, dependencies between tasks

BigPicture’s Board module.


Reporting in Jira

BigPicture’s Reports module.


Reason 5: Jira is performance-oriented

You never know how large your organization will grow in 10 years. It would be foolish to commit to software that’s going to give up when loaded with ten thousand tasks and with teams distributed throughout the world. In 2002, when she was born, Jira was intended for the software development industry, and an average software house tends to have a gazillion of tasks at any given moment. In the meantime, Jira has got attention from ‘classic’ industries. And only recently, Atlassian has announced its focus on the Data Center, a performance-oriented edition.


So there you have it: the different, high-level perspective on choosing the right project management software. Jira challenges the uncertainty of the upcoming decade. While analysts tend to compare features, we believe more in the flexibility, risk dispersion, and performance that Jira and Atlassian Marketplace collectively deliver.


Gantt chart Jira

BigPicture/BigGantt’s Gantt chart module with the Resources pane.


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.