Compare scenarios have long been awaited by the BigPicture community. They are finally debuting in BigPicture 8 (and the corresponding BigGantt 8). What-if scenarios are becoming available in the redesigned Gantt chart module – the heart of the popular project management solution for Jira. BigPicture Scenarios let you compare, for instance, an optimistic schedule to a pessimistic one. Or a loaded product with its MVP equivalent. Since an uncommitted scenario does not modify the underlying Jira tasks, you are likely to experience better performance in the sandbox mode, too :)
While the Scenarios are “just” another feature, BigPicture 8 is a landmark release thanks to two big things: Boxes that transform the app into a true PPM solution, as well as the integrations with Trello and multiple Jira Cloud/Server instances. In brief: BigPicture 8 projects, programs, and portfolios (a.k.a. Boxes) can source tasks from third-party task managers.
What data can you play with?
In early BigPicture 8 versions, those available from the Atlassian Marketplace in Fall 2020, a scenario lets you manipulate:
- the start and end dates of a task
- the duration (period) of a task
- period mode of a task (Manual / Lock / Auto bottom up / Auto top down)
What real-life situations can you cover with BigPicture Scenarios? Well, one business application of the ‘Compare scenarios’ environment would be to present the trio of optimistic-realistic-pessimistic schedules to the stakeholders, before you commit one of them to your Jira instance. You’ll want to create such showcase schedules in the Public mode of the Scenarios.
If you’re more into product management than into project management, comparing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) schedule to a loaded variant would be an obvious application of the Scenarios. You could enable the Private switch for that, not to clip your team’s wings ;) Both project and product managers should give the sandbox mode a try.
For a regular team member, Scenarios bring yet another benefit. Undo (think Windows-style Ctrl+Z) is available in the sandbox mode and you can go back a number of steps. Have a look at the tiny screenshot fragment – put the Gantt chart into reverse and go back those five steps. The Ctrl+Z is another small thing BigPicture users have long waited for.
What will 2021 and beyond bring?
It’s good to realize what the current Scenarios in BigPicture don’t cover. You can’t try and error the inter-task dependencies, those colored end-to-start arrows that occasionally link two bars in the Gantt chart. Also, you can’t modify the assignee of a task while you are in sandbox mode. While an average organization normally doesn’t update the inter-task dependencies all that often, we will eventually include them in the Scenarios.
Yet another question: will the BigPicture’s sandbox mode eventually go beyond the Gantt chart module? Should the Scenarios be available in the agile Roadmap or Board modules, BigPicture users will be able to play with iterations and PIs within the sandbox mode.
The first half of the 2020s decade is likely to witness all those improvements in future BigPicture 8 releases or perhaps in BigPicture 9 or 10.
Beginning BigPicture 8.1 scenarios are available within the Resources module.
How to work with Scenarios?
Here’s a sample workflow:
- To begin with, locate the ‘Live’ button near the top-left corner of the Gantt chart (in BigPicture 8 or BigGantt 8)
- Press Live > Create new scenario
- Modify the start and end dates of tasks within the context of the newly created scenario
- Once you’re done, either Merge to live or Delete scenario
- Host multiple scenarios at a time, either in ‘Public’ or ‘Private’ mode
BigPicture 8 is a landmark edition. It focuses on big things, such as Portfolio management Boxes and integrations with external instances of Jira, Trello, and Azure DevOps. It does deliver, however, plenty of unrelated new features, such as the schedule variants discussed above.