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Nov 13

Managing teams and resources in BigPicture

Jira BigPicture resource view

Having a plan you follow through is not all there is to project management. Namely, you ought to take the human factor into account. Let’s face it: people are not robots that can work 24/7/365. They will take days off, work in less than full capacity and make mistakes.

Importing your resources to BigPicture

Done. No, really. BigPicture uses the standard Assignee field in JIRA. As long as your tasks have it filled and are inside of the plugin’s Programs, you’re good to go. The Gantt will show the assignee of each task in the Icons column:

Gantt chart with Assignee, priority, project, reporter icons


If Reporter is also filled, the Icons column will show two avatars, illustrated above. But let’s make our life a bit simpler. First, let’s remove the Assignee from Icons:

Configure Gantt chart columns


And add a separate Assignee column, along with full name display:

Add Jira Assignee field to Gantt chart


Jira Assignee field on Gantt chart


Much better. The reason for this was, however, not just clarity and sleeker looks. As long as a column is added, one can group and sort by the values of it.

Group tasks by assignee


Tasks grouped by assignee, work breakdown structure


This gives us a nice, visual overview of tasks divided by the assigned resource, with the number of tasks clearly stated next to his or her name.

Now, some of you might wonder why we’re not using Quick Filters for this purpose. You could create QFs of assignee=… format, one per each Resource. This would be a good way to show only selected resources at a time. However, this way requires JQL knowledge and may be unfeasible (imagine a corporation with 10,000 resources and creating all those filters).

Protip: While you cannot assign tasks to people on the Gantt chart, by selecting a task and hitting E you can do so:

Pick assignee, Jira edit task



 Progress tracking

Tasks' progress, work breakdown structure


I already went ahead and added some progress on these tasks. BigPicture can use JIRA Time Tracking, which is the very same mechanism as on your JIRA tasks, under the Log Work option:

Log time spent, Jira task


Just make sure to select Time Tracking in the global configuration, as the custom field is there by default:

BigPicture task configuration, Task progress field, Time tracking progress value


Now any and all work logged by your resources will appear on the Gantt chart. Well, in fact, not only there.

See also: Time tracking in BigPicture and BigGantt


Dedicated screen

The Resources module is pretty much the Gantt with grouping by Assignee turned on all the time and with no columns. You still have the timeline layout, and the familiar bar representation of tasks that you can drag and drop. The only big difference are the small numbers for each day of every resource.

Resources in BigPicture, timeline


These represent allocation of this resource and operate based on 3 values:

  1. Duration – how long a task is scheduled to take. This is the same duration as on the Gantt chart.
  2. Effort: the number of work hours that need to be spent on the task within the duration. This is the Original Estimate field, part of JIRA’s Time Tracking mentioned above.
  3. Capacity


Effort is simply distributed across duration. So, for example, a task with 3 days of duration and 9 hours of effort will be 3 days of 3 hours work each. Shortening a task will make it take less days, but increase the workload per day. Enlarging a task will result in the opposite.

Capacity is configured in the Administration section – it overlays the non-working days of a resource defined in Holiday Plans on your schedule, and also compares the maximum allocation defined in Workload Plans with the current one for color-coding. Red is over allocation, green is under allocation, and yellow is a more or less exact match.

Protip: the weekly scale of Resources has a special summary when the Capacity row is expanded.


The summary row is great for showing overall status of all your resources, selected ones if you also have Quick Filters set up for them. However, it really shines when you select a team via the dropdown in the upper-left corner:

Select a team in BigPicture resources


Two kinds of Teams

To select them anywhere, you first ought to have some set up. There are two kinds of teams in BigPicture:

  • Global teams, defined in the Administration section
  • Program-specific teams, available under the Teams entry in the plugin’s header

The difference is very simple. Global teams can be assigned to any number of your Programs. Once created in Administration, you head to the Teams tab and just assign the desired Global teams. Here you can also create Program-specific teams, which will not be re-usable in other Programs. This approach is good only for ad-hoc teams or groups of resources.

Global teams, BigPicture administration


BigPicture program teams


Teams do two things. They allow you to filter the Resources view, and are also visible on the BigPicture’s Program Board as well as on the Scaled Agile Framework®-compliant Roadmap.


Program Board for resource management

As long as you use the Small Team mode, i.e. sync the Program Board with JIRA Scrum boards, you might take advantage of a nifty resource-related feature. Namely, dragging and dropping a task to a team’s row will mark it with a special label in JIRA.


Protip: Hold Ctrl/Cmd to multi-select tasks on the Board in BigPicture.

You can customize which field the labels are stored in using the global configuration:

BigPicture administration, Resource config, Team task field


Many clients create a custom field of “label” type, name it Team and add it to the Gantt module’s left pane. This way, the Gantt module will show tasks assigned to whole Teams on the Program Board.

Having the ability to assign a task to a team, but no specific assignee just yet, has a few benefits. It assists in your planning, especially during the initial drafts. It also lets you play with what-if scenarios, as changing the team will not affect anything in JIRA, other than its label of course.



BigPicture MS Project export, MPP, MPX


All resource-related data is included in your exports. This is especially useful when it comes to Microsoft Project, which can show resource over allocation right after opening the file.




Or, you could export that Gantt chart to a pdf file:


A sample Gantt chart exported to PDF


That’s the basic gist of resource management in the BigPicture plugin for JIRA. In the next months developers behind this add-on will add a lot of functionality to resource management, so stay tuned!

About The Author

We're SoftwarePlant team. We're striving to make Jira, Trello, Google Calendar and 'you name it' task management software talk to each other, and at the speed of light. We will one day unite them all. When the dream comes true will you still need any 'uber-software', other than BigPicture, to manage projects?