Roadmaps in Jira explained
Jan 07

Roadmaps in Jira explained

Think of a roadmap as a bird’s eye view of the entire project. A roadmap is a high-level plan, or a strategy, visualised on a timeline. How to have a roadmap in Jira? Do I need a plugin, or app? What is Jira roadmapping?

Roadmap associations

Roadmaps are about: Strategy, vision, overview, highlight, priorities, major dates (milestones), long-term, graphical tool (timeline), simplicity, communicating/sharing goals, at a glance, shared understanding, coordination, expectations

Roadmaps are NOT about: Granularity, detailed view, itemized plan, minutiae

Roadmap, a bird's eye view

Roadmaps in project management are about overarching goals.

Rules of thumb

  • a roadmap should fit to a single sheet of paper or slide/screen
  • up to four items per workstream (∼team) per year
  • order matters: top workstreams on top, top goals on top, etc.
  • plain language; avoid jargon, acronyms and abbreviations
  • you should be able to comprehend a roadmap within 3 minutes
  • the further into the future, the coarser grained the goals should be

Jira roadmap plugin

Jira features no roadmap functionality by default. As a matter of fact, Jira Agile has not been designed for long-term planning. It’s sprint- and cadence-focused and lacks aggregation. Ask Jira Agile for “a rough plan for the next 6 months” and you’ll get a list of 500 tasks.

Jira Portfolio (the app by Atlassian) does better. In fact it’s been devised with roadmapping in mind. With such features as “capacity usage in October” Jira Portfolio might seem great for tactical planning. But for Jira Portofolio there was always an elephant in the room…

BigPicture does even better. With aesthetically pleasing roadmaps and other PPM tools, such as Gantt chart, resources and risk modules, with green or red dependency arrows, that our clients love so much, BigPicture fits a PPM manager’s needs. Remember that “appetite comes with eating”?

What does Jira Roadmapping stand for?

Not just plain strategic planning. And not only drawing a roadmap in Jira for that plan. Also, integration with Jira backlog or tracker, resources and risk modules.


Roadmap consist of

Roadmap in BigPicture

BigPicture roadmap. The cadences constitute the timeline; the teams make swim lanes; and the curved green, or red lines represent dependencies.

  • Must haves
    • A timeline with the project divided into stages (Project Increments in SAFe®)
    • Project goals at least in the form of deliverables
    • High-level tasks
  • Should haves
    • Workstreams, or separate swim lanes
    • Milestones, or key events
  • Could haves
    • Risks
    • Dependencies


Roadmap Q&A

SAFe® compliant roadmap in BigPicture Cloud. Any Program Increment, or PI, can be expanded with a downward arrow to bring the individual tasks level; one of the arrows marked with the red marker.

Program Increment, SAFe compliant roadmap

The Program Increment expanded for granularity on the SAFe® compliant roadmap. Individual tasks are now visible.

Are roadmaps necessary in the Agile times?

Yes. Only a few years ago Agile enthusiasts realized that they had swallowed scrums in the wrong way. And that some overarching goals are still to loom on the horizon.

Static planning

Roadmaps are among those rare PPM situations that call for static planning. Few people should be given permission to modify goals on a roadmap, so that in the end of the day the project manager is able to compare the results with the original plan.

For who roadmaps cater?

  • for teams – to generate a shared understanding of goals
  • for stakeholders – who input goals on roadmaps, and confront these goals with real life results afterwards

Are stakeholders owners of the company?

Stakeholders have very different meaning in roadmapping than in everyday life. They are often not owners of a company.

Stakeholders in project management are: (a) a manager who is most interested in the outcome of a project, (b) a manager who secures resources for the project, and (c) a steering committee, or representatives of all the organizations involved in the project.

A sample milestone, please…

Say, you’ll attend a SAFe summit on April 10th in the hope to increase your sales by 20% in the given year. This could be your milestone, sometimes expressed as a vertical red line on a timeline.

What a roadmap is NOT:

  • a Gantt chart. With a Gantt you could plan “for July 15th”. With a roadmap you plan “for October” or “for the 3rd quarter”. The Gantt charts are much more fine-grained than the roadmaps.
  • a backlog. While a roadmap sets a general direction, the backlog is a set of detailed issues. But a roadmap should work together with the backlog.
  • a project management tracker. Jira or Trello are trackers and a roadmap is a separate app, or addon, or plugin, that helps a project manager see the big picture.

How to add risks to the roadmap?

Fortunately, you don’t need a separate space for risks on a roadmap. Just mark areas of risk with orange and red colours.


Are you Agile, Waterfall or both?

Jira BigPicture logo


Jump to Atlassian Marketplace.
Gantt chart, roadmapping, program boards, portfolios and more.
Check screenshots.


Update: BigPicture 7 for Jira now features the below roadmap

Server / Data Center / Cloud


The good news
Feb 2020
If you’re after dependency arrows in Jira, then consider BigPicture the leader. Read a guide on strong and soft visual task dependencies in BigPicture/BigGantt and how to map them to Jira task links. More.
Feb 2020
BigPicture is becoming an optionally standalone enterprise agile planning tool. With the new edition, called BigPicture.ONE, you’ll be able to do project portfolio management without Jira. BigPicture for Jira will remain our core product, though, and will be developed concurrently. More.
Dec 2019
We’ve been doing custom development for years, but have now released its official guide. Need a new feature in BigPicture/BigGantt? You’ve got options.

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.