Mar 10

BigPicture 8: [Boxes], and ‘let teams keep their beloved tools’

Big Picture 8 JiraBigPicture 8 revolutionizes portfolio management and portfolio-level reporting in Jira. The new generation of BigPicture is to debut in Summer 2020. With BigPicture 8, it is finally doable for the PMO to combine agile, waterfall, and hybrid projects in a single or many portfolios, as well as track the progress of this whole universe. Take a look at the screenshot below — can you see how the ‘Main’ [Box] reports the progress of the entire organization?

Yet there is another pro-PPM innovation in BigPicture 8. You almost certainly have teams that use Trello, a local Jira instance, TFS (Azure DevOps Server), or Rally Software, right? We acknowledge your teams wish to ‘keep the tools they love’. BigPicture 8 is capable of delivering the big picture based on what your teams record in their beloved tools. All a project manager needs to do is to connect that Trello that a team loves to a BigPicture [Box]. And the [Box] can be a BigPicture program, project, ART, Program Increment (PI), iteration, phase, portfolio; you name it. You manage [Boxes] through the ‘Overview’ module, as evident in the below screenshot.

BigPicture 8 portfolio-level reporting

Portfolio-level reporting in BigPicture 8 — the new Overview module. The BigPicture 7 Reports are available, too.

[Boxes] and Portfolio-level reporting in BigPicture 8  *


** later in 2020 or 2021

* Summer 2020

BigPicture 8 builds on this statement: there is no such thing as a homogenous, 100% agile organization. Perhaps you’re en route from waterfall to agile, and so your engineers will use the agile [Boxes] of BigPicture, such as Products, ARTs, Program Increments, Iterations. However, your HR, business development, and legal departments might prefer the waterfall [Boxes], such as projects and phases. Manage all the departments in BigPicture 8 and enjoy the portfolio-level reporting and the bird’s eye view.

Or maybe your organization has developed some custom PM methodology that’s neither entirely agile, nor utterly waterfall, and doesn’t even have a name. It’s easy to carve your organization’s unique workflow into BigPicture 8. Simply put, design a custom-behaved [Box] in BigPicture, such as ‘Cycle’ or ‘Product’, you name it, then clone this [Box] with a click of the ‘+Add new’ button — see the top left corner in the above screenshot.

Rename modules per Box type, BigPicture 8

Rename modules according to your organization’s terminology. BigPicture Enterprise edition required.

And there is one more new thing. We’ve increasingly heard from our clients ‘well, the Gantt chart might be useful here, but we couldn’t actually use the tool due to the political correctness in our agile organization’? Well, in BigPicture 8, you can rename a module, so the ‘Gantt chart’ can all of a sudden be ‘Roadmap’ or ‘Strategy’; what’s more, you can apply the new name in the agile [Boxes] context only.

Another example: the PMO can configure BigPicture 8 in such a way, that the Board module will only be available for agile project managers. At the same time, the HR or construction departments who practice PMBoK will instead have the ‘Gantt chart’, ‘Resources’, and ‘Risks’ buttons next to their [Boxes].

To make things easy, five predefined scenarios for portfolio managers are available in BigPicture 8 – see the table below:

PM methodology [Boxes] that a scenario is composed of
AgilePM Project portfolio > Agile Project > Iteration new in BigPicture 8
SAFe – Scaled Agile Framework Solution Train > Agile Release Train > Program Increment > Iteration
Hybrid Project portfolio > Project > Stage > Iteration
Waterfall Project Portfolio > Waterfall Project > Stage
Program > Program Increment > Iteration the classic scheme, available in BigPicture 7

Now, how does this portfolio management work in real life? Have a look at a couple of examples.

Example 1

You’re a government agency, and let’s suppose under normal circumstances you supervise your country’s swimming, rowing, and athletics associations. Still, now you’re suddenly hosting the world championship — a somewhat related project, isn’t it? With BigPicture 8, you can design a new ‘Sports facility’ [Box] type that has a custom Gantt chart view (we’re in the process of configuring it in the below screenshot). Now, create a portfolio of sports facilities — one [Box] per each stadium, playing field, or track that you are about to construct. Then, using BigPicture 8, you can track the progress of the ‘Sports facilities’ portfolio.

Customize box type in BigPicture

Create and edit [Box] types and data views with BigPicture Enterprise edition.

Example 2

Let’s suppose we’re in the automotive industry, and we’ve long had the classic ‘Cars’ and ‘Commercial Vehicles’ portfolios, but now the time has come, and a new ‘Electric vehicles’ product portfolio calls for agile development of the drivetrains. Wouldn’t it be helpful to add the ‘Story points’ field to the task card template in ‘Electric vehicle’ [Box] type, as we did in the below screenshot?

Board card layout, boxes in BigPicture 8

Design a card on per [Box] basis in BigPicture 8 Enterprise edition.

From a construction enterprise to a consulting company – a range of sectors benefit from the flexible [Boxes] of BigPicture 8. The key point with [Boxes] is that you can mix the ‘added value, incremental model’ commonly seen in the software industry with the classic ‘time tracking’, ‘budget tracking’ approach of the mass production & the oil era.

In the end, BigPicture 8 will tell you when and for how much you will deliver.

Does the portfolio approach apply to your organization? If your case is one of at least a hundred or thousand employees, we may safely say ‘Yes’.

‘Never give up tools you love’  (e.g., Trello) *

Trello Jira integration two way synchronizationThe second innovation in BigPicture 8 is that it will let teams keep their Trello, local Jira instances, TFS-es, Rally Software, and other beloved tools. We think it’s entirely o.k. if several project management tools exist in your organization. Trello can supply data to BigPicture 8 (2-way synchronization, of course), and other ‘beloved’ pieces of software will follow — for when will it happen, see the tabular calendar below. What we’ve realized here in SoftwarePlant, is that to build a tool that everybody, from a line worker to CEO, would love, is mission impossible. Instead, BigPicture 8 seamlessly exchanges information with the tools that teams love.

So, teams can continue using their local Jira, Azure DevOps, or Rally and still practice Scaled Agile Framework, by using the Roadmap and Board in BigPicture.

Example 3

Let’s suppose your marketing team, based in Europe, loves Trello Kanban boards for their speed. Your engineers in India, on the other hand, use some local Jira instance for its ability to keep 1000s of tickets. At the same time, the board of directors in the U.S.A. relies on BigPicture for the bird’s-eye view. Now, what would a wise PM do, given BigPicture 8? They would build a company portfolio in BigPicture 8 Overview module, and then they’d link that Trello instance that the marketing team loves, to the ‘Marketing project’ [Box] in BigPicture 8; they would also connect the ‘Indian’ Jira with the ‘Development’ [Box] in BigPicture 8, and so on. Now, the U.S.-based board of directors is supplied with a detailed, in-depth, drillable big picture of the whole organization. Too good to be true? See the below screenshot.

A tool that teams love When will it integrate with BigPicture
Trello BigPicture version 8, in 2020
2nd, 3rd+ instance of Jira Cloud/Server 2020-2021
Azure DevOps Server
formerly Microsoft Team Foundation Server
Rally Software will follow


BigPicture 8, multi-tool, add Trello, Jira

We’re adding a Trello source of tasks to the ART1 [Box] in BigPicture 8. From now on, Trello and BigPicture exchange data bidirectionally.

On a related note, you might be wondering, ‘Isn’t BigPicture inherently linked to Atlassian and Jira?’ Well,

  • indeed, BigPicture used to be a project management add-on for Jira
  • but it will soon become a standalone, portfolio planning tool, under the name of
  • yet teams will be able to keep their Trello, Jira, Azure DevOps, Rally, and more
  • what’s more, the BigPicture for Jira plugin will retain its position, and we’ll continue developing it

New Gantt chart *

The Gantt chart used to be a highlight of BigPicture. In BigPicture 8 we’re introducing a new, more responsive, and prettier edition, internally we call it Gantt 2.0. Feature-wise the new Gantt chart has what-if scenarios, soft issue links, and the ‘What’s the context of a task?’ info bar, outlined below. The proven Gantt chart 1.0 will still be around, for some time.

The Gantt chart 2.0 will initially be available for Jira Server and Data Center; later for Jira Cloud.

More on Gantt chart 2.0

Gantt chart in BigPicture 8

The new Gantt chart in BigPicture 8.

Features and refinements

Users might appreciate these smaller features:

  • In-app context menus. For instance, right-click a mouse to change the status of a task from ‘In progress’ to ‘Done’ *. More


So here you have it, while BigPicture 7 was big on everyman’s tools and features (Roadmaps, Scope, Gantt chart, Board, Resources, Risk modules, Reports), the eighth edition keeps all these proven tools, but BigPicture 8 also looks up at the portfolio level. The landmark [Boxes] functionality let senior managers build their portfolios with ease. It’s no secret that BigPicture 8 sort of tries to deliver what Jira Align is famous for, and we hope BP 8 is a choice for a broad spectrum of organizations, for a fraction of price. BigPicture 8, with its ‘Add an external tool’ capability, let teams stay with the tools they love. While still building on Jira, BigPicture 8 is a step towards, a standalone tool.

Expect BigPicture 8 on Atlassian Marketplace in 2020.


The good news

Feb 2021
Firstly, what is the true cost of PPM software implementation? Traditional vs. hidden costs. How to reduce the latter? Read more

Feb 2021
Secondly, is Gantt chart an agile tool? Check three applications of modern Gantt charts in agile management.

Jan 2021
Thridly, deciding between BigPicture and BigPicture Enterprise? Check 6 signs your organization should upgrade to BigPicture Enterprise.

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.