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Nov 22

Project progress in Jira: easily track and deliver your projects on time

Three construction workers working on a Gantt taskbar completed in 61 percent.

Before you jump off into managing a project, you need to have a plan for it. When your plan is in place, the next thing you want to do is to be able to see how well you are executing your project compared to what you have planned. Luckily, there are several easy and quick ways to track your project progress in BigPicture for Jira. Let’s have a look at them.

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Visualizing project progress

Project tracking needs accurate data, which you can interpret on the fly just by looking at it. In BigPicture, there are a few ways to look up the progress, either of a story/task or epic. The first one is with the help of the (percentage) progress bars. You will find those bars on a Gantt chart and in the Scope module.

Tracking progress on a project Scope

The Scope is essentially a work breakdown structure for your project, which you can customize to suit your needs. How? With a set of columns and their aggregation methods. The Scope view consists of different columns which can display nearly any data you want to track. Concerning progress tracking, you may be specifically interested in the Time tracking and Status columns.

See also: Task progress (documentation)

You can customize your Scope view to track any data you have stored in Jira fields and BigPicture native fields.

Time Tracking Progress (Spent)

The Time Tracking Progress (Spent) shows the progress according to the Original estimate and the Time spent fields. The TTP (Spent) calculates the progress by dividing the Time Spent by the sum of the Time Spent and the Remaining Estimate (x100%). But do not worry too much about it; the app does the math for you.

time tracking progress (spent) formula

This tracking method might work better for you when you cannot estimate the effort for a given task. Or when the completion takes longer than you have originally estimated.

Hint: The key to tracking data is updating issue/task fields. In this particular case, the Remaining Estimate field is particularly important. Whenever a task’s assignee feels the Remaining estimate no longer reflects the real amount of remaining work, they should update this field. Only this way will BigPicture be able to calculate the accurate progress for you.

Time Tracking Progress (Original)

The TTP (Original) project tracking method is another popular metric many clients use. It relies on the Original and the Remaining estimates, which means that the progress calculation does not include Time Spent. For this reason, we recommend using this project tracking method only when you can provide precise Original Estimate values for your project tasks. Otherwise, the TTP (Original) field will not show real progress in extreme situations.

Time Tracking Progress (Original)

The TTP (Original) project tracking method is another popular metric many clients use. It relies on the Original and the Remaining estimates, which means that the progress calculation does not include Time Spent. For this reason, we recommend using this project tracking method only when you can provide precise Original Estimate values for your project tasks. Otherwise, the TTP (Original) field will not show real progress in extreme situations.

time tracking progress (original) formula

Let’s have an example.

Imagine a case where you have originally estimated a task to take 50 hours. As the task’s end date is approaching, your team logs 50 hours on that task. But the team is nowhere to finish this task and feels it needs another 50 to deliver it. According to the Time Tracking Progress (Original) field, the progress of that task could be:

  • 0% – The team has updated the Remaining Estimate field with the actual value. In such a case, the Remaining Estimate still amounts to 50 hours.
  • 100% – The team has not updated the Remaining Estimate field. As a result, BigPicture automatically reduced the field value to 0 hours because of the 50 hours the team logged on the task.

The bottom line is that neither 0% nor 100% is close to reality since the team has not managed to complete the task within the original 50 hours.

Status (percent of tasks completed)

The Status column summarizes the tasks belonging to a given epic with their respective statuses: Done, In progress, and To do. The Status divides the number of tasks your team has completed by the overall number of tasks. This is probably the easiest project tracking method, as all your team needs to do is to keep their tasks’ statuses updated.

Aggregation by “Children status categories in %” for the Status field.

Story points (percent of story points completed)

What if your team or organization uses story points instead of hours? No problem. BigPicture can still measure your project progress. Add the Story Points column to your view and select the aggregation method. (In the example below, we set the aggregation to “Children status categories %,” just like in the previous method.

Aggregation by “Children status categories in %” for the Story Points field.

If you look closely at the screenshot above, you will notice that the percent values on the Status and Story Points columns differ, even though we used the same aggregation method. The reason is that story points-based progress is a weighted metric. Therefore, the epic OA-11 is completed in 57.1% according to the number of tasks completed. Whereas in terms of story points, your team has delivered 71.4% of the epic so far.

Manual progress tracking with the numeric progress field

If none of the above four methods work for you, there is one more method you can try. Bear in mind, though, that it is also the most manual, arbitrary, but at the same time, probably the most precise method for measuring progress—using the BigPicture’s numeric Progress field. How does it work?

A task assignee is the one who can tell at any given moment how far they are with their work. So all they need to do is update the Progress field using values between 0 (zero progress) and 100 (task complete). For instance, 40 would mean the person is 40% through the task. As they keep going, they would update this value to, let’s say, 50, then 62, until they reach 100.

You or the assignee can in-line edit the Progress field to keep the task progress up to date.

Here, we have used the “Average, without parent” aggregation method to return the average progress on the children’s tasks. Therefore, the average completion for the example parent task, epic OA-11, is 65.14, which you can interpret as 65.14%.

Custom project tracking views

This is not a tracking method per se but a useful tip for working with the Scope (or a Gantt chart which we will discuss next).

Although the Scope offers much room to add multiple columns, the view could get busy at some point. On top of that, other people using this app, including your project team members and other stakeholders, might want to track data different than yours.

To solve this problem, you and other users can create custom views and save them. This way, whenever you want only to track time, budget, assignees, or any other specific data set, you can switch to a relevant view.

Add columns to your views, set the aggregation method, and save the view. You can edit and visit your custom views any time you need it.

Tracking project progress on a Gantt chart

A Gantt chart in BigPicture, like any other Gantt chart, consists of a task list (WBS) on one side and a timeline on the other. A task list is very similar to the Scope, as you can customize and use it exactly as we described previously. What the Scope does not have, however, is the timeline view with taskbars.

Percentage-complete shadings

If you enable Progress in the view, the app will also display progress on the taskbars. The color fill will visualize the progress of a task parent and its children. Additionally, if you click on the taskbar, a task dialog box will provide you with the same information.

Upon a quick inspection of task BU-38, you can immediately see two different shades of orange color. The difference between these two shades reflects the percentage of progress.

Apart from percentage progress bars, you can monitor your project progress with classic elements such as baselines, critical path, and milestones—All these are available in the Jira Gantt chart (powered by BigPicture).

Roadmap visualization with custom structures

BigPicture’s Gantt chart is also suitable for roadmap visualization. You can display structures consisting of epics (or other parent tasks) linked to each other; releases; or even Sprints. In other words, you can create various structures on a Gantt chart and use them for tracking your project progress.

Tracking project progress on an Agile board

Although you can use a Gantt chart in the Agile approach, an Agile board is a more popular tool you will find in BigPicture. You can use it to manage Agile or large scaled projects. No matter the size, the Board will tell you how far your team is into their iteration, Sprint, or Project Increment. Familiar percentage progress bars indicate the percentage of completed work in each iteration.

Iteration 1 (green) is 100% complete; iteration 2 (blue) is in progress and still has 83% of tasks to go; iteration 3 (gray) has not started yet. Therefore, the progress is 0%.

What if you wanted a more holistic overview of your project tasks’ progress like you did on the Scope? You can customize a task list (backlog) on the right side of the board with a variety of columns, just like it was the case of a Scope or a WBS next to a Gantt chart.

Custom project tracking views

Unlike the Scope or a Gantt chart, you cannot save those views just by clicking on the “Save” icon. But you and other stakeholders can still have their custom views. To create different data sets to track, you need to customize the card views. The cards accept any available Jira or BigPicture field, which means you have the same level of view customization as on the Scope and Gantt chart.

Open the card creator and drag and drop the fields you want to track.

When you have created a card view, it will appear on the Current View list, ready to help you with the progress tracking of your project.

Click on the “Manage card views” to open the card view editor page and create a new view. Every new card view will appear on the list above.

Project progress in the portfolio view

You can also look up how your project is doing at the portfolio level. The Ovierview module features a familiar view consisting of columns that you can customize to track each initiative’s progress. Apart from the sheer portfolio management features, the advantage of the Overview is that you can check your project progress as a whole. In other words, you do not track individual epics or phases but a project alone.

Custom portfolio tracking views

To track time, status, budget, and anything in between, you need to customize your column view and save it. To do so, click on the Manage column views option and add as many views as you need.

The Overview is similar to the Scope, only on a higher level. It lets you manage and track all the initiatives that belong to a selected portfolio or program.

Progress tracking reports

BigPicture houses a variety of reports that will aid you with your everyday project progress tracking. Notably, a Plan Delay report lists the status of all the project tasks on all hierarchy levels and indicates delays (according to the Baseline End dates).

Negative numbers under the “Delay” column denote how many days behind schedule the tasks are.

Another useful report is a Task report. It summarizes tasks in specific categories (e.g., tasks with statuses “In progress” or “Done”) or sums up the values of numeric fields on tasks (e.g. the sum of all Story Points for tasks with the “To do” status or the sum of the fields such as “Original Estimate.”).

“Task report” as a pie chart, bar chart, or in the tree view form.

Moreover, the Task report supports JQL (Jira Query Language), allowing you to create more advanced custom reports to meet your individual needs.

If you want to track milestones specifically, a Milestones & Markers report will give you the data you need. Depending on your needs, you can customize the report to show you all the milestones and markers, only markers, or only milestones.

The “Milestones & Markers” report on a Classic house-building project in BigPicture.

The report marks milestones you have completed and indicates delays in reaching project milestones according to the milestone baseline end dates.

Hint: You can create multiple reports, even the same ones but with different settings. BigPicture stores and displays them on the separate Reporting Dashboard, which you can customize to your needs. Dashboard customization includes adding/deleting reports and arranging their order and size.

Tracking project progress: summary

Regular monitoring and updating of your plan are crucial for ensuring your project is heading in the right direction. BigPicture’s features help make the project tracking process quick and easy. Apart from native Jira progress fields, you will also find a full-fledged Gantt chart, Agile board, portfolio views, and useful reports. You can customize each of these to cater to your and your stakeholders’ needs.

Start your free 30-day trial today and discover more ways BigPicture can help you with your daily 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.