Sep 23

BigPicture vs. Structure. Two Giants compared

BigPicture and Structure are both project management apps for Jira, but they differ more than one may imagine. Structure basically resembles a very powerful Excel worksheet with sheets full of issues and hierarchy levels. The structures in Structure for Jira have lots of filtering, grouping and auto-sum options. Big Picture, on the other hand, while it also features those crucial Scope – work breakdown structures, is balanced for the “visualization” end of project management work, with its dependency boards, Gantt charts, risk matrices, and resource panes.

Both BigPicture and Structure are great for projects at scale and cross-project management. The two are comprehensive & versatile project management tools, as opposed to the other two apps of the “Big 4”, namely Portfolio (compare BigPicture with Portfolio) and Tempo (BP vs. Tempo Planner), which are to a large degree specialized.

Table 1: Big Picture vs. Structure for Jira

BigPicture Structure
In a nutshell All-in-one Project Portfolio Management app for Jira for short-, medium-,  and long-term planning, tracking the progress across multiple projects, and managing risks; for both agile, hybrid, and waterfall projects. The app balances between visualization and spreadsheet formats.

Visualize, track and manage progress across large-scale projects with adaptable, user-defined issue hierarchies.

Key phrases reach goals, align teams, cross-project, cross-team; effectively supervise/manage/control involved projects or portfolio of projects; track and report progress; iterations and Program increments ordered hierarchical list of issues, called “structures”; cross-project, cross-team; track progress; assign and balance the workload among team members; sprints & releases

Modules

Scope
Work Breakdown Structure
yes
You get a spreadsheet-like Scope module in BigPicture; but you also have the WBS within the Gantt chart module.
yes
Roadmapping yes
Dependency board yes
Gantt chart yes yes
with Structure.Gantt, an extension to Structure for Jira
Risks yes
Resources yes yes
with Structure.Gantt, an extension to Structure for Jira
Teams yes
Reporting yes yes yes
the extra check mark for Exel-like auto-sum row below each structure

Hierarchies (Work Breakdown Structures)

Unlimited hierarchy depth yes yes
Configurable views yes yes
Story points yes yes
Containers for issues yes
(artificial tasks)
yes
(folders)
Filtering yes yes yes
the extra checkmark for S-JQL — Structure’s special language for finding items according to their position and relationship to other items in the structure
JQL filters yes yes
Self-updating structures
(based on pre-defined queries; triggered when there are changes in Jira)
yes
(Structure builders; formerly synchronizers)
yes
(Dynamic structures)
Track progress
progress bars
yes yes

Selected functionalities

Visualizing app? yes yes
e.g. dependency board, resource module with coloring, Gantt chart included by default, SAFe® compliant roadmap, risk matrix; bar/pie charts
yes
Sync- and re-sync with Jira yes yes
Track progress of projects/programs yes yes
Focus on short-/long-term planning both short-, medium-, and long-term both short-, medium-, and long-term
Dependencies between issues (e.g. task A blocks task B) yes yes
Drag&drop tasks yes yes

Project management paradigms / methodologies / levels

Project/program-level management yes yes
Portfolio-level management yes yes
Iterations (Scrum) yes yes
SAFe® yes yes
SAFe-compliant roadmap.
yes
Agile yes yes yes
Waterfall yes yes

Import/export features

API yes
Private REST api
yes
Java and JavaScript api
Supported file types mpp, mpx, pdf, xml, csv, xlsx, doc, docx (with BigTemplate – an extension of BigPicture) (a) xls, printable page – with Structure for Jira

(b) pdf, svg – with Structure.Gantt

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, doc, docx files. You can also import MS Project mpp/mpx files. (a) You can download the structure that you see on the screen as an XLS file.

(b) You can produce PDF or SVG file with your Gantt charts using configurable export.

Requirements & platforms

Amount of configuration work moderate large
Structure consists of a single, highly-configurable module, where you create and name your own structures, or views, such as “Planning”, “Tracking”, etc. These structures later function as de facto separate modules. BigPicture, on the other hand, delivers roadmapping (planning), Gantt chart and resource modules out of the box, so it needs less configuration work at the initial stage.
Works with Jira Software, Jira Core, Data Center, Service Desk Jira Software, Jira Core, Data Center, Service Desk
Jira Server / Cloud Jira Server, Data Center, Cloud Jira Server, Data Center, Cloud

Business data & Pricing

Launched 2014 2010
Jira Server, 100 users, Atlassian Marketplace $2000/instance $2000/instance
Jira Cloud, 500 users tier, Atlassian Marketplace $1.38/user/month $0.46/user/month
Available through Atlassian Marketplace, Atlassian Solution Partners Atlassian Marketplace, Atlassian Solution Partners
User rating (stars) 3.2/4 3.5/4
Developer SoftwarePlant ALM Works
Atlassian Top Vendor? yes yes

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

 

The good news
Dec 2019
Next-gen projects – how good are they, and do BigPicture, BigGantt support them? More.

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

See you in:

  • 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.