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Aug 02

Leave and Absence Planning with BigPicture

Vacation island BigPicture, absence planning

The holiday season brings the everlasting issue of unexpected staff absences to the forefront. Vacation leaves have the potential to thwart projects that were scheduled back in the spring or winter. This article is essential reading in summer. How to file a leave of absence in BigPicture?

BigPicture facilitates vacation leaves and absence planning. Not only a project manager, but also a team member (for themselves), can register an absence, including a past absence. The absences reported will instantly appear to those responsible for resource management, and red bars signaling the over-allocation of an individual or a team will pop up here and there.

How to register days off for a person?

BigPicture Business Administration > Resource manager > [User name] > Absences area is the place to go for admins/project managers. Business administration is a level up from Boxes, so an absence registered will affect the concerned person’s/team’s capacity throughout portfolios, projects, and iterations to which the person taking days off is contributing. The reduced capacity gets noticeable in Resources and Board modules, as well as in the Resources pane of the Gantt module.

Absences in resource manager of Jira BigPicture

Figure 2. Absences area in Resource manager of BigPicture business administration. Only project managers/admins have access here, and so they can register absences on behalf of everybody else.

As a rule of thumb

How does a vacation leave filed affect the whole project management? An otherwise green bar in the Resources module – representing a day, week, or month, whatever perspective a project manager is using – might turn orange meaning that the person/team going on vacation gets close to full allocation during that week or month. Similarly, an otherwise orange bar could turn red to represent the over-allocation of an individual/team.

Have a look at the Gantt module in figure 3. There is this ‘Get insurance’ task, estimated to 40 hours, or 5 days, scheduled for the period between the 5th to 9th of July, that Angela Hambleton has been assigned to. Once Angela Hambleton registers a day off on the 7th of July, the project manager is alarmed by the bars turning from orange to red. The project manager can either extend the task by one day or come to terms with the overallocation of Angela.

Absence impact on Gantt schedule and resources

Figure 3. Angela Hambleton got overallocated between the 5th and 9th of July when she registered an absence on the 7th of July. Gantt module of BigPicture with Resources pane enabled.

The absence registered will be mapped to business days and not holidays. Therefore, be sure to set non-working days (Saturdays, Sundays, bank holidays, etc.) for your organization first for the absences to work properly (Business Administration > Workload Plans, Holiday Plans).

Can an individual register a leave for themselves?

Yes. Even a regular BigPicture user (non-admin) can report (and delete) his or her absence, both backward and forward. All they need to do is to go to BigPicture top menu > MyProfile > Absences, have a look at figure 4:

  • unlike an administrator (project manager), the regular user can only register an absence for themselves, and not for other users,
  • a BigPicture administrator can prevent ordinary users from registering absences, by going to Jira administration > Manage apps > BigPicture technical configuration, see figure 5
Registering a vacation or sick leave for myself

Figure 4. A plain BigPicture user can register an absence for themselves, by going to BigPicture > My Profile


Restricting users from filing a vacation leave

Figure 5. Turn the green switch off (as an administrator) to restrict ordinary BigPicture users from being able to register absences for themselves.


BigPicture – HR management software?

When registering an absence in BigPicture – be it as a project manager or as an ordinary user – you’ll first have to select the type of absence from the dictionary. Five types are available – Holiday, Leave on request, Maternity leave, Sick leave, Other reason. Each of the five types has the same effect on the concerned individual’s (and their team’s) capacity. So why bother and select the absence type in the first place?

By distinguishing between the absence types, BigPicture – a major portfolio management player – is making advances to the HR software category. The absence register, distinguishing between holiday leave, sick leave, or maternity leave, facilitates payroll accounting and keeping an eye on annual leave day quotas.

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.