A Gantt chart is a great project management tool in many ways. It is visual, informative, and easy to understand. You can even use a Gantt chart in Agile projects. Yet, not all project management software support it natively, including Jira. But it does not mean you are stuck with Agile boards or neck-breaking workarounds. With the help of BigGantt for Jira, you can build robust, highly-visual Jira Gantt chart views to manage any project you have.
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Working with Jira Gantt chart—BigGantt features at a glance
BigGantt’s is a full-fledged Gantt chart software whose core functionality, as the name suggests, is the Gantt chart feature. It lets you create beautiful Gantt charts to assign, schedule, and track the progress of your tasks. Apart from the tasks, you can also work with Jira epics and stories from several projects. And with the help of work breakdown structure (WBS) and multi-level grouping, you can sort and view them.
Let’s take a look at the Gantt chart and related features in the BigGantt app and learn how you can leverage them in your projects.
Work breakdown structure
WBS in Jira is a visual representation of task structure in the top-down or bottom-up direction. With Jira and BigGantt combined, you can use WBS for Agile (a hierarchy of epics and stories or tasks), Classic, or Hybrid projects. In a classic project, you will find a WBS in BigGantt on the left side, next to the Gantt chart. It features epics, stories or tasks, and milestones. In Agile, it is usually situated on the right side of the Agile board in the form of a task list (backlog).
In addition to those 4 project components, you can also use basic tasks which are native to BigGantt.
So how can they be useful? There are a variety of uses. For instance, you can use them to create a custom hierarchy that you do not want to sync with Jira (at least for now). Or use them for keeping notes in your structure, which you can leave or discard when you no longer need them. (Programmers leave comments in their code—you can do the same with basic tasks in your project hierarchy).
Moreover, basic tasks in WBS can serve as placeholders for your future WBS elements. When you decide on the shape of your project hierarchy, you can convert basic tasks to Jira issues or milestones with just two clicks. This way, you will also be able to view them in Jira.
Another important feature of Jira Gantt charts is task dependencies. In native Jira, you have only Issue Links at your disposal. But with BigGantt, you can create real and impactful task dependencies and cross-project dependencies.
On top of that, you can also link your tasks with soft dependencies in case you do not want them to have any consequences on the schedule. In other words, instead of creating a Start-to-End (or any other) dependency, you can soft-link two tasks. As a result, no matter what happens to either of these two tasks, one will not impact another.
Moreover, when you select the task from the task list (WBS), the dependencies that do not affect the task will gray out. This will help you maintain focus and keep the view uncluttered for complex Gantt dependencies.
A critical path is not an original Gantt chart feature but is very useful and desirable in project management. When working with Jira Gantt charts in BigGantt, the app will highlight the critical path with red color. For clarity, the critical path does not include tasks that are not immediate neighbors.
You will not find such project components as project milestones in Jira, let alone a way to visualize them. In BigGantt, however, you can have milestones in your work breakdown structure. On the Gantt chart, milestones are diamond-shaped objects which you can create out of Jira issues or basic tasks.
On the WBS side, the milestone component has its own icon—a gray square with a white circle inside. This way, even without highlighting the milestone on the Jira Gantt chart or giving it a special name, you can immediately tell which element of your WBS marks an important event in your project lifecycle.
Gantt schedule baseline is another important feature that helps you assess your project’s progress and track delays. Just like previous features, you can synchronize BigGantt’s baselines with Jira. You can also add the synchronized fields to the Column views on the WBS side.
Please take a look at the screenshot below.
We added two more columns to our WBS view for the project phases: the Baseline Start Date and the Baseline End Date. The dates indicated by the columns are the same as those of the baselines visible on the Jira Gantt chart. On a side note, you might have noticed that we used basic Tasks to mark phases in our WBS for this project.
This handy and highly-visual feature will help you look up the progress of your project tasks on the fly. Essentially, each taskbar has a default color reflecting its status (gray – to do; blue – in progress; green – done). When a task is in progress and an assignee has completed some work, a taskbar will get a “fill” overlay indicating the progress.
If there is a task you want to emphasize on your Gantt chart, you can change its color from default to some other.
Gantt charts are primarily for project scheduling. Factors such as resources, just like dependencies, can also significantly affect the entire project timeline. For that reason, BigGantt comes with a resources view (Resources Panel) where you can track the workload and capacity of your project resources.
Please take a look at the screenshot above. We enabled the Resources Panel in our project, and the Jira Gantt chart view now features two additional sections. On the lower left hand-site is a list of resources we have assigned to the project so far. On the opposite side, the color-coded bars and the numbers indicate the capacity and workload status of the respective person.
By clicking on the bar, you will get a Workload Details dialog showing the person’s total workload, their remaining capacity, and the tasks you have already assigned to them. In this particular example, all of the resources are underallocated, hence the green color of the capacity bars. If the capacity was moderate (75-100%), the bars would turn orange. And if it was over 100%, the bars would turn red to indicate the overallocation.
Thus, the Resources Panel can help you with resource capacity planning to maximize resource utilization without an unhealthy workload.
Risks and changes coming from different sources (client, resources, budget, etc.) can all impact the project schedule. And although you cannot always avoid changes, you can use the Scenario mode to find the best ways to accommodate those changes in your project plan.
The Scenario mode allows you to create what-if scenarios for your project schedule on a Gantt chart. It is a safe “playground” where you test different solutions and compare the outcomes. At any point in the simulation, you can review the changes and undo the latest action to try something else or leave your scenario as it is.
Gantt chart Infobar
Infobar on your Jira Gantt chart in BigGantt summarizes all the baselines, milestones, overdue tasks, and dependencies in the form of a list. It also keeps the history of changes you (or other permitted users) make on a bar chart.
Custom Jira Gantt views
You can easily customize the views on the WBS in BigGantt, no matter whether you want to track a project, program, or portfolio. There are various columns to choose from, depending on the data you want. On top of that, you can also aggregate that data according to different parameters (e.g., none, sum, average, etc.).
The column data comes mainly from the Jira fields (e.g., fixed version, original estimate, start date, etc.). But you will also find BigGantt native fields which are not present in Jira (e.g., milestones, skills, actual cost, etc.).
However, if you want to track lots of different data, your WBS view will eventually get cluttered. To solve this issue, create several custom views, name them, and save them. Then, easily switch between them whenever you need to.
Markers on the Jira Gantt chart timeline can indicate anything. These could be important events in your project (other than milestones), or some special or very short tasks to pay attention to. There is no limit as to how many markers you can create, even on the same day. Each can have a different color, name, and description.
The huge advantage of a marker is that it will always remain visible within a period range—no matter the level of granularity of your Jira Gantt chart view. So, for instance, even if you zoom out to the maximum level and lose sight of those small tasks, the marker will help you not to forget about them.