Jun 26

BigPicture vs. Portfolio for Jira. Two Giants compared

Are you into project management in Jira? Both BigPicture and Portfolio for Jira are capable of delivering a panorama, or big picture, of your organization.  They are both powerful, agile and suitable for organizations of various sizes. They are, however, noticeably different and many businesses find one of the apps more useful than the other. So let’s compare Portfolio for Jira with Big Picture.

Since the apps have different logic, please treat this comparison as a draft and a starting point for your own tests.

Table 1: BigPicture vs. Portfolio for Jira

While BigPicture has similar functionalities across Cloud – Server – Data Center editions, Portfolio for Jira may differ across those hostings, so Portfolio for Jira Server has been taken into consideration here.

BigPicture Portfolio
In a nutshell Versatile Project Portfolio Management app for short- and long-term planning. Serves both agile and waterfall projects. Has both proven and modern PM modules. Portfolio for Jira provides a centralized interface for managing cross-team requirements, resources, and schedules with a customizable hierarchy1.


Roadmapping (planning) yes yes
Gantt chart yes Timeline view has basic functionalities of Gantt chart, especially with ‘Kanban’ selected in ‘Team scheduling methodology’ combo box. Alternatively, you could integrate Portfolio with Gantt module of BigGantt/BigPicture. How?
Risks yes
Resources yes yes
Teams yes yes
Work Breakdown Structure yes
Up to BigPicture 6 WBS is present within Gantt chart module; in BigPicture 7 WBS is a standalone module.
Reporting yes yes
Themes (high level strategic focus areas to show teams where they should devote their time) yes

Selected functionalities

Are portfolio-, program- and project-level plans (roadmaps) linked together? yes
Customizability yesyes yes
lack of JQL filters, less developed admin section
Sync- and re-sync with Jira yes yes
What-if scenarios (sandbox before committing changes) yes
Track progress of projects/programs yes yes
Focus on short-/long-term planning both short- and long-term both short- and long-term
Planning horizon unlimited
100 years is ok ;)
5 years
you can contact Atlassian support for up to 30 years
Additional levels of issue hierarchy, other than the standard triad of ‘epics, stories, subtasks’, e.g. you might want to add a custom, aggregating ‘Initiatives’ level, above ‘epics’ yes
No of tasks/issues unlimited 5000
JQL filters yes yes
Plans can be created based on JQL queries, although Filters specifically are not supported.
Dependencies between issues (e.g. task A blocks task B) yes yes
Markers yes Use a custom Portfolio field (e.g. ‘Marker’ – yes/no) to display an issue as a marker on the timeline view.
Milestones yes yes
Baselines yes yes
Target start/end dates can compare to actuals.
Original estimates can be designated and compared to actuals.
Drag&drop tasks yes yes

Resource planning

Skills yes
further developed in BigPicture 7
Auto-scheduling Some automatic scheduling options, such as resizing of parent tasks in ‘Auto’ mode on Gantt view, or keeping an eye on resource workload and dependencies. yes
Story points yes yes
Workload plans yes yes
Capacity planning yes yes
Holiday plans yes yes
Vacation plans Substitute Vacation Plans with Holiday plans. yes
by adding exceptions to team members

Releases (Versions)

Observable in Gantt chart. A parent task makes a release. “Releases” tab
Cross-project releases yes yes

Project management paradigms / methodologies

Agile (Scrum & Kanban) yes yes
Mixed methodology teams (Scrum/Kanban) yes yes
SAFe® yes

Team and program levels up to BigPicture 6; starting BigPicture 7 portfolio level, too.

for PI planning and additional breakdown or work
Waterfall yes

Import/export features

Supported file types mpp, mpx, pdf, jpg, png, xml, csv, xls, xlsx, doc, docx (with BigTemplate – an extension of BigPicture) csv
Sample import/export features With BigTemplate, an extension of BigPicture, you can export an entire project in MS Project native mpp/mpx formats or export individual issues to pdf, jpg, png files. You can also import MS Project mpp/mpx files. Import/export a plan in csv.


Works with Jira Software, Jira Core, Jira Service Desk Jira Software
Hosting types Cloud, Server, Data Center Server, Data Center

Jira Cloud users may be interested in the Structure Cloud Early Access Program.

Business data & Pricing

Launched 2014 2014
Jira Server, 100 users, Atlassian Marketplace $1500/instance $3300/instance
Jira Cloud, 11-100 users tier, Atlassian Marketplace $2.5/user/month $3.5/user/month
Available through Atlassian Marketplace, Atlassian Solution Partners Atlassian Marketplace, Atlassian Solution Partners
User rating (stars) 3.4/4 2.7/4
Developer SoftwarePlant Atlassian
Atlassian Top vendor yes n/a

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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.


What do the users say?

This is one characteristic review from Atlassian Marketplace:

With Portfolio you’re big on agile Planning, period. In BigPicture, however, while the app extensively supports SAFe®, you can still practice the proven waterfall methodology. Check this article, expecially the ‘BigPicture’ and ‘Portfolio’ sections for better understanding of Peter’s review.


What does plain Jira deliver?

Let’s quote an excellent thread from Atlassian forum: Jira (Core) is an issue tracker. Jira Agile is an add-on for the core Jira that enables Agile functionality such as boards (Scrum and Kanban), sprints and sprint planning, reporting associated with Agile and so on. More on what Jira Agile can and cannot do.


We’ve seen clients trying both BigPicture and Portfolio before they would eventually commit to one of them. User interface is polished in both, but differs noticeably. It’s worth noting that thanks to its Gantt chart module only one of the tools is both agile- and waterfall-friendly and, according to a recent research2, the vast majority of world’s business are still waterfall to some extent.

1 Scaling Agile with Atlassian and SAFe®. Dan Radigan, Brandon Huff, Swati Jain. Atlassian + cPrime, undated, ~2017

2 PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2017®. Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, PA, U.S.A.

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.