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Sep 23

Time tracking in BigPicture and BigGantt [4 areas]

Clock, time tracking, project managerA project manager might be wondering how to take advantage of Jira’s time tracking in a project management app, such as BigPicture or BigGantt. First and foremost – you might use time tracking to measure the progress of a project or its phases in the Scope or Gantt chart modules. It might come as a surprise that most of BigPicture’s modules use time tracking in one form or another. Let’s look closer at how BigPicture builds on Jira’s native Original Estimate – Remaining Estimate – Time Spent fields.

Use time tracking to measure the Progress and to aggregate time

First and foremost, base the progress calculation in your projects on Jira’s Time Tracking fields (Original Estimate – Remaining Estimate – Time Spent). The key point here is that BigPicture (and BigGantt) are capable of aggregating time logged to low-level elements, such as sub-tasks or stories. Notice, how the ‘Analysis’ epic in the below screenshot aggregates the progress of the four attached stories.

Also check Part 1: How to track the progress of epics, projects, or portfolios?

Time tracking in Jira BigPicture

Gantt chart module of BigPicture. The Remaining Estimate, Original Estimate, and Time Spent columns correspond to Jira’s Remaining, Estimated and Logged fields. Note the resulting progress bars in the Time Tracking (Spent) column.

Some considerations

Apply aggregation to the ‘Time tracking’ columns. Available functions are Min, Max, Avg, Avg without parent, Sum, and Sum without parent. The above screenshot shows Sum function applied to the four columns.

Now, let’s suppose for a minute you don’t have BigPicture/BigGantt on top of Jira. To calculate similar aggregates in plain Jira, you would have to use JQL, but:

  • plain Jira doesn’t have the fully developed Work Breakdown Structure. For instance, it lacks program-to-epic, portfolio-to-program, custom-to-custom links.
  • so you need an app, such as BigPicture, to observe the progress of whole projects and portfolios.

You could also get a similarly configured time tracking view in the Scope module of BigPicture – see the illustration below. We post the above Gantt chart illustration, as it’s valid in both BigPicture and BigGantt (BigGantt doesn’t have the Scope module).

Note that the progress bar has a numerical equivalent – the Time Tracking Progress (Spent) field:

BigPicture Time tracking (spent) vs. Time tracking progress (spent)


For improved automation

go to Jira administration > Add-ons > BigPicture > Task configuration and map Time Spent + Remaining Estimate to task’s End date, as evident in the below screenshot. This way, bars in the timeline of the Gantt chart will automatically reflect any delays reported by team members.

Map End date of a task to Time Tracking Spent

The recommended setting: map task’s End Date with Time Spent + Remaining Estimate.


You can log time to a Jira task from the context of BigPicture/BigGantt

In Jira Server/Data Center press . [period] > Log work.
In Jira Server/Data Center/Cloud enable the View > Detail view as marked in the below illustration. The ‘Detail view’ is available in the Gantt chart, too.

Log time in Jira BigPicture

Scope module of BigPicture. Log time to an issue from within the context of BigPicture/BigGantt using . [period] > Log work or the ‘Detail view’.

Time aggregation and Progress tracking are project manager’s classics. Now, let’s look at how other BigPicture’s modules utilize Jira’s time tracking.


Time tracking and Resources module

Resources module of BigPicture relies on Jira’s time tracking heavily. What Resources do is:

  • they honor Jira’s Original Estimate, Remaining Estimate, and Time Spent fields
  • they add Teams, Workload Plans, and Holiday Plans
  • so that:
    • a Project Manager is able to load individuals/teams with a proper amount of work (think Motivation)
    • and the HR complies with laws (think Maximum weekly/monthly working hours)

The red bars evident in the below picture are areas of concern. These red bars mark weeks when a particular individual or team is overallocated.

Resource management build on Time Tracking

Read these three to get an idea on how to leverage Jira’s time tracking in BigPicture:

Also: Managing teams and resources in BigPicture

Note: you can export your Resources view to Excel and further process data with Excel functions (requires BigTemplate, a separate app).


Time tracking fields in issue cards

Something easy on the eyes. Configurable cards and lists of Risks module in BigPicture allow for the presentation of the Time tracking fields and progress bars. Go to BigPicture > Administration > Risk card to update the layout of a card.

Time tracking fields added to issue cards

Risk matrix in BigPicture with Time tracking fields added to the configurable cards.

You can configure the time-related fields/progress bars to the Board task card and Backlog list accordingly:

Board Jira BigPicture, configurable cards

BigPicture Board. Issue cards are configurable. Backlog view is configurable, too.


Tempo integration

Tempo Timesheets for Jira is a standard tool of many HR and accounting departments. Project Managers, on the other hand, lean towards BigPicture. Fortunately, BigPicture for Jira Server/Data Center can see Teams, Skills, Workload Plans, and Holiday Plans, that you’ve defined in Tempo Timesheets, Planner, and Budgets. You need the BigPicture Enterprise extension to maintain the sync between BigPicture and Tempo (the ‘Synchronize with Tempo’ button will appear in BigPicture > Administration > Resource manager).


The good news

Sep 2021
Firstly, are story points hot or overrated? Story points extend the familiar time component with complexity and risks, for greater accuracy of estimations. They also add another “safety feature” – average velocity per sprint. Read more.

Sep 2021
Secondly, if organizations followed the principles of neoclassical capitalism, some professions could witness as much as 90% staff reduction. In real life though, the digital transformation of the workplace does not bring a drastic reduction in employment. Why is that?.

Aug 2021
Thirdly, is there an all-in-one app for Jira? Little visualization and missing “management umbrella” are Jira’s major drawbacks. How to supplement what Jira is missing most? Read more.

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.