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Jul 11

MS Project migration: 7 Reasons to choose BigPicture for Jira

In today’s disruptive world, staying relevant can be challenging. Organizations push for adopting agile methodologies to adapt better to ever-changing business and economic landscapes. But changes do not happen overnight. Not to mention that every organization has different projects, budgets, and needs. Therefore, some might need some time before they can fully transition to new methodologies. While others might prefer to follow the hybrid model to accommodate for different processes running across their departments. 

Regardless of the circumstances, they all need a project management tool that will help them work the way it suits them best. So the question arises: does Microsoft Project fully supports the way you workIf your answer is negative, it could be a good moment for you to consider MS Project migration to BigPicture—a flexible PPM app that seamlessly integrates with Jira.

Today we will cover two things:

Why do users migrate from Microsoft Project?

Organizations migrate from various tools to another all the time and the case for MS Project migration is no exception. So why do they migrate from MSP? There are several reasons that users often mention.

1. Expensive price-tag

Microsoft offers two versions of their Project software: cloud and on-premises. Each of those versions has several pricing options and tiers.

On-premise (desktop) versions

Project Standard 2021 costs $679.99. Although a desktop version is a one-time purchase, this price is only for 1 PC. So if you want to equip several employees with that tool, you need to multiply this amount by the number of users. So let’s say you have a team of 10, then you end up paying nearly $7,000 for a tool with no advanced management features and no collaboration capabilities. The base cost for Project Professional 2021 is $1,129.99 per user which is nearly twice as much as the Standard version.

Cloud-based versions

There are three versions: Project Plan 1 costs $10 per user; Project Plan 3 costs $30 per user. Project Plan 3 costs $55 per user and it is an annual commitment. Only Project Plan 3 gives you access to everything that MSP has to offer, including portfolio management and enterprise resource planning.

All in all, MSP is expensive however you look at it and whichever plan you choose. And the prices will get exponentially higher as you are adding more users and additional apps.

2. System requirements

If the price for the on-premise version was not enough, you need to keep in mind that it will work only on machines using the latest Windows versions. Does MS Project work on Mac? The on-premise version of Microsoft Project is not compatible with iOS computers. But the cloud feature Project Online will work on iOS.

3. Limited integrations

What is another reason behind the MS Project migration? A coherent yet monolithic environment. Microsoft Project works best with other Microsoft apps. Be it Skype or Teams. However, the alternative PM tools like Jira and BigPicture, integrate with MS Project and support MSP files import.

3. Too many features

It is a fairly relative reason as one could debate what “too much” really means without putting it in a specific context. But undoubtedly, top pricing tiers for MS Project offer loads of options. Especially the reporting part is massive. Those who love to track every little detail about their project will be in heaven. But if you prefer a clean, straightforward path toward achieving your goal, too many distractors could indeed be an issue.

4. User Interface

The previous point becomes apparent when you look at the MS Project interface. On the one hand, it is very consistent with the UI in other apps from the Microsoft family (Excel, Microsoft, etc.), so the long-standing MS users will feel at home. 

On the other, one must remember that MS Project has been on the market since 1984 and the interface is a reflection of this tool’s long tradition. Consequently, the UI of MS Project features a sheer amount of icons, menu options, tabs, and windows, which users find overwhelming.  screenshot of ms project interface

5. Good for project management but not processes management

Project management and process management are very much related but not the same things. Processes define how you and your teams get the job done without introducing any variations in the outcome. Managing processes is an ongoing process that aims to optimize efficiency and consistency. Therefore, poorly defined processes and insufficient management can result in projects becoming chaotic and ultimately unsuccessful.

So when you think about PM software features for process management, you likely would like to be able to, among others, visually model workflows; easily manage changes in your project; add tools your teams like and use; easily collaborate with internal and external stakeholders. MS Project supports some of these in its own way, but apparently, not as much as users need it.

Business values in MS Project migration to Jira BigPicture

Over the past years, the BigPicture plugin for Jira has grown to become the top choice for the project, program, and portfolio leaders. Why would you want to choose this app specifically instead of other Jira plugins or even non-Jira apps? Let’s start with the five most common issues that make users consider MS Project migration.

1. Price

The prices for BigPicture and BigPicture Enterprise depend on the hosting version and the number of Jira users in your organization. If you use Jira Cloud, Data Center, or Server instance version, then you select the same respective version of BigBicture.

With BigPicture, you do not pay for each individual user but for the maximum number of users you want to add. The prices start with a limit of 10 (which for the Cloud version is free of charge). Afterward, you can add as few as 25 and as many as 20.000 (Cloud) or unlimited (Data Center; Server).

Unlike in MS Project, the more people in your organization use BigPicture, the lower the cost “per user” gets. If you divide the prices per limit, you will find out that you can pay as low as $1.17 for 1 Cloud user per month, or $0.80 for 1 Data Center user per month. (For the most up-to-date prices, please visit the pricing page.)

The best part is that you do not need to pay extra to gain access to portfolio-level management features. Regardless of whether you choose the BigPicture standard or the enterprise version, you can still fully manage all your initiatives at any level.

2. System requirements

BigPicture (and Jira) are web applications in the sense that they run on Cloud, Data Center, or Server. Therefore, the requirements will not pertain to the operating system but mainly to the power of the machine that runs Data Center or Server applications in your organization.

Important: On February 15, 2024, Atlassian will cease support for Jira Server instances. The Cloud Migration Program will also affect BigPicture.

3. Features

Will you also find plenty of features in BigPicture? Yes, but it does not mean you will feel overloaded as you did with MS Project.

First of all, the application is under continuous development. So even though we add new features every month, these are mostly meant to increase the ease of use and introduce functionalities our users have specifically requested.

And secondly, BigPicture is a very flexible and mature tool that you can use on any level and with any type of initiative. And therefore, depending on what you want to do and work on, you will not be distracted by functionalities that you do not need to achieve what you want.

So let’s briefly talk about how BigPicture is structured and how it impacts the features you can work with.


Initiative modules are the main feature-grouping elements in BigPicture. At the moment, there are 10 modules that serve unique purposes, and thus, give you access to unique features.

For example, in the Resources module, you will find options and features that are strictly related to your resources, such as Skills panel, effort mode, capacities, workload contouring, and many more. While in the Gantt module, you will find everything you need to work with your project’s WBS and Gantt chart. These include adding and editing tasks; changing their order and hierarchy; adding baselines, critical path, and milestones; creating what-if scenarios, etc.

You can also adjust views for each module, and display various elements which you will find only in a given module. And, unlike the tabs in MS Project, you can rename each module name to maintain nomenclature consistency across your initiative and organization.

10 modules and their default names.

Hint: You do not need to install BigPicture to try out any of the features. Visit our demo page where you can fiddle with modules, templates, projects, and everything else BigPicture has to offer. 

Initiative templates

A major difference between BigPicture and MS Project is that you do not have to configure a new project from scratch and adjust every possible detail. BigPicture comes with 11 individual templates that we pre-configured for every initiative type of your choice. For example, if you want to manage an agile, classic, or hybrid project, you will find separate templates for each of these initiatives. The same goes for portfolio, program, increment, iteration, and so on.

11 types of Initiative templates.

So let’s say you have chosen a classic project. As a result, certain modules and features associated with them will not apply to this initiative type which means you will not see them.

Jira native features

Since BigPicture builds on the Jira platform (and extends its capabilities), you will have access to Jira native functionalities as well. Some of these features you can readily use from within BigPicture (e.g., column names). While some of them are available only when you switch to Jira (e.g., Issue Links). You can easily switch back and forth without leaving the BigPicture app.

Moreover, you and your teams can work on the same tasks that you manage inside the app. The advantage is that you do not have to update the schedule based on the collected information because BigPicture does it for you automatically.

Related: Most important Jira features for BigPicture (video)

This sort of feature-duality also works the other way round. Thanks to the gadgets, you can embed selected BigPicture elements (e.g., risks; roadmap) directly in Jira or on the Confluence page.

Jira dashboard with BigPicture gadgets.

Portfolio-level management features

If you are looking for an inherent way to strategically align your projects with the goals of the business, MS Project will not be much of a help (unless you additionally buy and add Project Server). But with BigPicture, you can successfully manage all your initiatives at the project, program, and portfolio levels.

Related: Program vs. Portfolio vs. Project in BigPicture

Notably, the Overview module will keep all your initiatives in one place based on the hierarchy you assign to them. It will also let you structure the initiatives and track their progress in a unified and standardized way. It is a very flexible module where you can customize views in a variety of ways, add new initiatives, and manage the existing ones.

No matter which BigPicture version you choose (enterprise or standard), you will have access to all the Modules and templates, including essential portfolio-management features (e.g., resources, risks, cross-project dependencies, and much more).

4. Interface

The feel, colors, modals, and terminology are all consistent with Jira. So if you have been using this tool for a while, you will feel at home with BigPicture. Moreover, when you first open the app, you will notice that the upper menu is not cluttered. There is only a handful of options for each module. You can find more advanced options in the administration, app, module, and personal settings which are listed separately. This way, you do not need to scroll through settings you are not interested in.

The upper menu for individual modules. Here, you can see the Risks module and its respective customization options (left-side), as well as filters along with the search option and date range (right side).

On top of that, the app features many visual clues whose goal is to guide users toward the actions they might want or need to take to proceed with their work.

A welcome screen in BigPicture invites users to get started using the app in three different ways.

You can quickly navigate back to Jira using the top menu which lists your Jira dashboards, projects, issues, and boards.

To return to Jira, use the top (blue) menu.

And finally, BigPicture also supports dark mode which you can turn on and off in personal settings.

5. Project and processes management

Essentially, Jira is a process management tool. It has many fantastic features, such as workflows, issue tracking, tasks, and sub-tasks. And if you pair it with a robust PPM solution like BigPicture, then there is nothing that could stop you from the effective process and project management. In other words, Jira and BigPicture complement each other very well— whatever Jira cannot do or does in a limited way, BigPicture adds or extends this capability respectively.

Let’s have an example. In Jira, you can use Issue Links to indicate relationships between tasks. Even though you have 4 different Links at your disposal and can create custom ones as well, you will not be able to visualize them or use them as dependencies. This is where BigPicture comes in. It allows you to map the Issue Links you have already created in Jira to real dependencies that will impact your schedule (Strong dependencies) or not (Soft dependencies).

Task dependencies visualized on an Agile board in BigPicture.

What does BigPicture offers in addition to what we have already mentioned (and which MS Project does not have or at least not as fully developed as BigPicture)?

6. Agile planning

Insufficient support for Agile is also one of the biggest pain points and reasons for considering MS Project migration by the MSP users.

BigPicture, however, is a truly first-choice solution in the Agile planning area. First of all, it comes with many interesting features that will support agile project management. Among them, you will find an Agile board where you can manage dependencies, tasks, and teams; estimations on project and portfolio level; objective-based planning capabilities; as well as progress tracking and visualization features.

And second, since Jira and BigPicture work together, you can synchronize nearly anything you do on your Board in BigPicture with Jira—and the other way round. It means that even if someone who is involved in your project does not have access to BigPicture, they still will be able to follow updates and changes on the Jira Board.

7. Risk management

The last point on our MS Project migration list is project risks.

You can manage, monitor, and visualize project risks with a dedicated Risks module. This module features a risk map where you can add your risks or tasks as risks based on their impact and probability. And once you add them, you will be able to view them from a neat 2-dimensional perspective. You can also switch to a Table view in case you want to quickly look up the risks in a form of a list.

Risk module views: risk matrix and risk table.

You can easily move the risk cards you see on the heat map using a drag-and-drop feature or by editing the values directly in the issue.

Apart from that, BigPicture also gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to customizing your risk matrix. You can not only change the name and order of scales (axes) but also decide which values you want to see. For example, you can delete the lowest impact and probability values to monitor only the risks with the highest risk rates. For an even greater risks overview, you will find a Risk matrix report in the Reports module that will aid you in your risk management activities.

About The Author

Content writer at BigPicture. Previously, Aggie worked for SaaS companies writing specifically about eCommerce and marketing. As a continuous learner and advocate for knowledge-sharing, she creates content for beginners as well as more advanced readers. She loves clean plant-based food and morning workouts.