Nov 19

BigPicture, Jira Align, Portfolio, or Aha! – which one to choose?

Agile team in kayakWith the advent of Jira Align, searches, such as ‘jira align vs aha’ or ‘jira align vs portfolio’ has begun emerging on Google. While some organizations seem to reconsider their commitment to Aha!, or Portfolio, let’s state it: Jira Align is distinctly different from proven project management apps, such as BigPicture, or the two previously mentioned. Which one of them should you choose then: Aha!, BigPicture, Jira Align, or Portfolio? Your budget, number of teams, and product diversification seem to be major decision-making factors.

On a related note: Jira Align may live on top of your Jira Software, quite similar to the other three. It’s not the case that Jira Align is an alias for Jira Software + some enterprise-level planning and reporting tools.

 

Aha! Roadmaps for Jira BigPicture Jira Align Portfolio for Jira
What do forums whisper? It has some light features for tracking a project. But at its heart, it’s a roadmap tool for Product Management, not Project Management.

Aha presents things in a nicer format (than Portfolio).

Aha! is a better tool for a Product Manager, and Portfolio makes more sense to the SCRUM master, dev manager, technical Project Manager, or Project Officer.

BigPicture is the best option when you have many projects and many teams in which members are responsible for different tasks in more than one project. (…) Portfolio is for this same purpose, but it is more oriented on team and release.

(…) there is a higher level in the organization that wants to visualize cross-product initiatives in the Gantt chart.

 

Jira Align has a larger feature set, compared to Portfolio.

A separately managed solution that is cloud-based. A de-facto solution for Atlassian’s largest customers.

(…) both powerful and simple to use.

(…) seamlessly integrates with Jira Software.

Portfolio is useful for high-level planning and forecasting; it’s not as suitable for the day-to-day management of individual projects.

It is an excellent tool to clearly understand the team velocity and capacity for each release. Not so much for roadmapping.

Portfolio feels more like a project planning tool instead of a product planning tool.

The tightness of integration with Jira moderate high moderate high
Can I live on my own, without Jira? yes yes soon yes
What’s an app’s ‘Special’? (…) it’s best suited for high-level roadmapping, not detailed implementation tracking. For starters, BigPicture features best-in-class Gantt charts, which JIRA Portfolio does not even have. Connecting top-level strategy to a large number of teams. Automated scheduling is, to me at least, the one killer feature of Portfolio for Jira.

Test ‘what if’ scenarios to calculate what happens to your schedule, e.g. add another team member, reprioritize your work.  You can see what your schedule looks like before committing the change.

# of users/teams Especially medium and large organizations. If you have many teams, BP Enterprise edition might be worth it. Above 500 users (not a hard-and-fast rule). Focus on a limited number of teams (up to 20 ?). Up to 500 users (roughly).
Business data
Developer Aha! Labs SoftwarePlant Atlassian Atlassian
Hosting – Jira: Server, Cloud Server, Data Center, Cloud Cloud Server, Data Center, Cloud
Security – keep your business data on a server within your organization yes yes
Atlassian Top Vendor yes
Trial version 30 days 30 days Seven days, on request 30 days
Price, Server, $/year The plugins for Jira (Server and Cloud) are available free of charge, but you need to pay for Aha! Roadmap itself.

You pay $1188 times the number of workspace owners and contributors (~superusers). If there are five of them, you are looking at $5,940, annually, for the most popular Enterprise plan. If you have ten workspace owners and contributors, you might be charged $11,880, annually for the Enterprise edition.

Smaller entities could go with the Premium plan, where you pay $708/user, annually. If there are 20 users, you are looking at $14,160/year.

250 users tier: $4,000 250 users tier: $9,490
Price, Cloud, $/user/month 500 users tier: $1.38 $69, $99, or $129 / user / month 500 users tier: $1.73
Functionality
Strategy yes
‘Strategy’ view. Graphical mindmap; personas; competitors, goals, and initiatives matrices
yes yes yes
Themes (in 2.x, Themes provide high-level strategic focus areas to show teams where they should devote their time)
Financial management yes yes yes
Program-level view, track progress of projects in your portfolio yes
with Strategy roadmap and Initiatives
yes
further improved with Boxes, starting BigPicture 8
yes yes
Roadmaps: Program-, high-level roadmapping yes yes yes yes
Board (a.k.a. agile board, program board) yes
Features board; based on releases and not iterations or program increments
yes
Program-level and iteration-level board, starting BigPicture 7.2
yes yes
Boards in Jira Software are an issue source for Portfolio plans. You can use Jira Software boards for program level and initiative level items as well as day-to-day planning.
Gantt chart yes
simplified Gantt chart (timeline) view within the Releases module; has work breakdown structure, task dependencies, and milestones
yes
including a resources pane
yes
Timeline view has basic functionalities of Gantt chart, especially with ‘Kanban’ selected in ‘Team scheduling methodology’ combo box. Alternatively, you could integrate Portfolio for Jira with Gantt module of BigGantt/BigPicture. How?
Scope

a standalone work breakdown structure module, separate from the Gantt chart or Roadmap

yes yes yes
Risks yes yes
Resources yes
simplified, no skills
yes yes yes yes
the extra checkmark for the auto-scheduling feature
Teams yes yes yes
Reporting yes yes
the extra checkmark for spreadsheet-style pivots and charts
yes yes yes yes

An effort was made to gather accurate data, but these apps are sometimes incomparable. Data current at the time of writing. Help improve the table – e-mail marketing (a) softwareplant.com.

In our opinion

BigPicture vs. Jira Align. BigPicture is way cheaper; Jira Align can synchronize a dozen or two fields with Jira Software while BigPicture can synchronize nearly any field. The agile board in BigPicture is more mature than in Jira Align.

However, Jira Align has tons of features not covered in the above table.

BigPicture vs. Portfolio for Jira. BigPicture has better coverage of specific areas, namely scope, schedule, and risk management. The two apps are both great when it comes to roadmaps and resource management.

Aha! Roadmaps for Jira are, in a way, equivalent to Portfolio for Jira. BigPicture is different since it penetrates project management areas than Aha! and Portfolio don’t touch. Jira Align is a league of its own, both function- and cost-wise.

 

 

The good news
Dec 2019
BigPicture has now the ‘Extra Working days’, if you occasionally work on Saturdays or Sundays. Find the feature in Holiday Plans – see a tutorial.

Upcoming events

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  • Las Vegas for Atlassian Summit, Mar 31 – Apr 2, 2020
  • Tallinn for Atlassian in Baltics, Apr 23, 2020
  • The Hague at European SAFe Summit, Jun 10-11, 2020

Complete calendar

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.