SoftwarePlant is now BigPicture! Learn more
Jun 19

How to plan work in BigPicture? From Gantt chart to Risks

Jira BigPicture planningHere’s a quick tutorial on how you do long-, medium-, and short-term planning in Jira BigPicture. Go module by module, and learn common planning patterns, be it Gantt chart, Risks, agile Roadmap, or Program Board. Even if you’re an experienced user, you might have overlooked certain BigPicture modules. So, this is a comprehensive guide.

Planning with GANTT chart

Long-, medium-, and short-term planning.

Following is the most common pattern of planning with Gantt chart:

  1. Scope a project (including project decomposition), build a work breakdown structure.
  2. Define milestones.
  3. Add dependencies between work chunks.
  4. Balance workload of your teams, team members, and resources. Utilize the bottom Resources pane for that.
  5. Build a schedule. Establish the start and end dates of tasks.
  6. Determine Critical path.
Gantt chart project planning, BigPicture, BigGantt

New Gantt chart 2.0 with a sleeker look is scheduled to debut in BigPicture 8 and the corresponding BigGantt 8.


Gantt chart 1.0, resource balancing, critical path

The workload balancing has not yet been done here. Note how Angela Hambleton is overloaded (red cells), while other team members have few to none tasks assigned.


BigPicture’s SCOPE module as a planning tool

For medium- and long-term planning

  1. Decompose the scope of your project.
  2. Estimate the duration of each task; also fine-tune the scope (refine the backlog, if agile).
  3. Look at aggregates, such as total estimated time or story points at the project or work package level.
Scope decomposition-total-cost-time-story-points

You can hide the right-side Detail view, and then enjoy more room for columns such as ‘Start date’ and ‘End date’.


Agile planning in BOARD

Short- and medium-term planning.

Here’s a sample planning workflow for the agile Board.

  1. Continuously create an agile schedule. The further away, the rougher the plan.
  2. Define major milestones. BigPicture refers to them as ‘markers’.
  3. Identify and visualize inter-team dependencies. The arrows turn green, orange, or red automatically, depending on how realistic a dependency link is.
  4. Estimate the tasks, usually in story points.
  5. Balance teams’ workloads in any given iteration.
Cross-team Board 2.0 in BigPicture

Even an extremely agile tool like the Board has a timeline, evident above the iteration and Program Increment containers. The timeline is useful for creating milestones, called ‘markers’ in BigPicture.


ROADMAP as a planning tool

Medium- to long-term planning.

Following is a sample planning workflow for Roadmap module of BigPicture:

  1. Set directions, or long-term objectives at the collapsible PI level, which was hidden in the screen capture below. Mark business priorities – you can use the PBV (Planned Business Value) field for that, and record numeric values of each objective.
  2. Define objectives for each team.
  3. Define major milestones (in BigPicture use markers for that).
  4. Reveal critical goals, e.g., by coloring them, or just annotating ‘Critical’.
Roadmap planning process in Jira

Agile Roadmap in BigPicture. Read about quarterly and timeline roadmaps.


RESOURCES. How to run planning sessions here?

Short-, medium- and long-term planning

  1. Roadmap the work, you can use ‘Quarter’ or ‘Half-year’ scale at this stage.
  2. Balance workloads using the bottom Skills pane. You seek the domination of orange bars because orange represents 75% to 100% allocation of skill in a given timeframe. Red means the overallocation of a skill (allocation to capacity > 100%), while green tabs stand for the underallocation of skill in a given timebox.
  3. Build a schedule. Establish start and end dates of tasks, use the ‘Month’ time scale for that.
  4. Balance workloads using the top/main pane of the Resources module. Again, orange-colored bars are what you aim for (allocation to capacity between 75% and 100%). Note the ‘Individuals’ and ‘Teams’ tabs, you’ll typically use only one of them, depending on your setup.
Jira Big Picture planning Resources

Plan resources and skills with the Resources module of BigPicture. Note the ‘Individuals’ and ‘Teams’ tabs.



Medium- to long-term planning

  1. Identify your risks, enter them into the Risk register. Note the two methods of registering a risk.
  2. Set probability and consequence of each risk, so that you have the deadliest risks grouped together, and easy to keep an eye on, in the ‘red area’ of the risk matrix.
  3. Look at your risks from various perspectives, such as per team, per product, or department. Use filters for that – top right corner of the Risks module.
Planning risks in Jira

Planning with BigPicture Risks. You can add risk by clicking a cell in the matrix, thus completing steps 1 and 2 in a single run.



So there you have it – an overview of how the project and product managers run planning sessions in BigPicture. Starting BigPicture version 8 we add sophisticated, bird’s eye view portfolio-level planning as well as a very precise Calendar planner to supplement the existing planning qualities of BigPicture on either end ;)


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.