Jul 30

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 work breakdown structures, is balanced for the “visualisation” side of project management work, with its dependency boards, Gantt charts, risk matrices and resource panes.

Both BigPicture and Structure are great for managing “projects at scale”. 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- and long-term planning, tracking progress and managing teams. For both agile and waterfall projects.

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

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


Roadmapping yes
Dependency board yes
Gantt chart yes yes
with Structure.Gantt, an extension to Structure for Jira
Risks yes
including workload & holiday plans
Teams yes
Work Breakdown Structure yes
Up to BigPicture 6 WBS is present within Gantt chart module; in BigPicture 7 WBS is a standalone module.
yes 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)
Filtering yes yes yes
the extra check mark 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)
(Dynamic structures)
Track progress yes yes

Selected functionalities

Visualizing app? yes yes

e.g. dependency boards, resource module with coloring, Gantt chart included by default, SAFe® compliant roadmap, risk matrix

Sync- and re-sync with Jira yes yes
Track progress of projects/programs yes yes
Focus on short-/long-term planning both short- and long-term both short- 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.

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

Agile yes yes yes
Waterfall yes yes

Import/export features

API yes
Private REST api
Java and JavaScript api
Supported file types mpp, mpx, pdf, jpg, png, xml, csv, xls, 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, JPG, PNG 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 $1500/instance $2000/instance
Jira Cloud, 11-100 users tier, Atlassian Marketplace $2.5/user/month
Available through Atlassian Marketplace, Atlassian Solution Partners Atlassian Marketplace, Atlassian Solution Partners
User rating (stars) 3.4/4 3.5/4
Developer SoftwarePlant ALM Works
Atlassian Top Vendor? yes yes

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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
Aug 2019
BigPicture named Agile at Scale App. The new ‘Agile at Scale’ category of apps for Jira debuted on Atlassian Marketplace. More.
July 2019
New Reporting component for BigPicture 7.3 and the corresponding version of BP Enterprise is scheduled for a release in July. Pie and column charts, as well as spreadsheet-style reports,  will be available – more.
July 2019
Find a perfect match – new in BigPicture 7.4. Assign tasks semi-automatically. Get five best candidates (individuals or teams) based on skills and/or remaining capacity – more.

Upcoming events

See you in:

  • San Diego for SAFe Summit, Sep 29 – Oct 4
  • Paris during Valiantys Enterprise Day, Oct 17

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.