Gantt charts and resource modules go hand‑in‑hand in a project manager’s software toolset. Ideally, both Gantt charts and resources should be visible in a single Jira window to allow a project manager to get a bird’s eye view of how under- or over‑allocated resources are in the upcoming week, month or quarter. So, how does one choose the right Jira app for this?
Ask these questions when shopping for a plugin on Atlassian Marketplace:
- Are both the Gantt chart and the resource pane visible together in the same window?
- Is there a heatmap mode available?
Red cell: overallocated; green cell: underallocated, and so on.
- Is your Gantt chart of choice part of a bigger project?
Gantt charts, while popular, belong to the ‘waterfall era’. With the advent of the ‘agile era’, you’ll likely need agile tools sooner or later. These could include a program board or roadmap.
Jira add-ons are far more likely to talk to each other if they are authored by the same software house. And even more likely if the software house makes components of a single “big” project management app.
- How mature is the Gantt chart itself?
There is an easy way to determine this in Atlassian Marketplace: inspect the Versions > Resources > See all (n) versions tab. The more versions of a Jira plugin that have been released over the last 12 months, the more active a software house is. SoftwarePlant’s BigPicture and BigGantt are examples of such applications.
How to plan resources on a Gantt chart in Jira:
A 5-step tutorial using BigPicture 6.13+ or BigGantt 3.11+
1. Enable the resources pane
Click Resources to display the resources pane below the Gantt chart. Using the below screenshot as an example:
By completing Jira’s “Original estimate” field, 13 hours’ of work have been allocated to an individual regardless of their actual availability. The individual has been overallocated; hence, the red box.
Jerome has been assigned eight hours of work on Monday and Tuesday (88). He is overallocated on Monday because he’s only available for four hours, whereas he’s properly allocated on Tuesday because he’s available for eight hours on that day.
Learn how to check an individual’s availability in Step 3.
Counterintuitively, green is undesired in the context of resource planning. In Step 3, we uncover that people work 4 or 8 hours in this organization. A project manager has assigned a 1-hour task to an individual, so this resource is underallocated.
2. Understand colors and numbers
Red: >100% of a team member’s capacity has been allocated, for example, 13 hours’ of work in an 8-hour workday.
Orange: 75%–100% of a team member’s capacity has been allocated.
Green: <75% of a team member’s capacity has been allocated, for example, 5 hours’ of work in an 8-hour workday.
3. The same value can have different colours
In the case of the above screenshot, Monica DeSantos has 5 hours’ worth of tasks assigned to her on certain days. However, she only works for 4 hours on Mondays and Fridays, resulting in an overallocation of work on Monday and Friday and an underallocation on the remaining workdays.
You can override Jira’s default 8-hour workday using BigPicture (or BigGantt). To do this, go to: BigPicture > Administration > Workload plans > Default Workload Plan > Details.
4. Rules of thumb
- Orange (properly allocated) is a good thing when you plan resources on a Gantt chart in BigPicture or BigGantt.
- More green (underallocation) is acceptable the further into the future you go, as your resource planning will undergo changes and delayed tasks will surely add up.
- Red (overallocation) dominating whole weeks or months in the distant future is a bad sign, as delays are more likely than not, and they will make the situation even worse.
Note: when Googling for BigPicture or BigGantt documentation, use the “resources view” key phrase rather than “resources pane”. For instance, you could search for “resources view administration BigPicture”. This is recommended because there is also a full‑scale resources module in BigPicture separate from the Gantt chart—more on this next.
5. Feeling that something is missing? There are options!
A trained eye will surely notice what’s missing in the above ‘lite’ resources addition to the Gantt chart… A full-size resource planning tool should surely add four things:
- Capacity values so you don’t have to jump to “Administration” to check the availability of an individual on any given day
- Remaining capacity so you don’t have to make on‑the‑fly calculations such as “8 hours of capacity minus an assignment of 3 hours, so I can give 5 hours’ worth of tasks to that individual”
- Adjustable granularity such as “weekly” colored bars instead of “daily” boxes
- Whole teams and skills planning, not just individual team members planning
All four are available in BigPicture. Here is how: the app has both the ‘lite’ module discussed above—part of the Gantt chart—and the more advanced, full‑size “resources module”—separate from the Gantt chart. BigGantt, on the other hand, has only simplified resource management, but even the lite resource planning will be further developed. Check the documentation for more information.