From BigPicture to Beyond: A Guide to Choosing the Right PPM Tool for Your Jira Workflow

11 min read

With teams working across various domains and industries, the need for robust project portfolio management tools has never been greater. 

Among the popular choices, Atlassian’s Jira has emerged as a dominant force in project tracking and collaboration. 

However, as projects grow in complexity and scale, organizations often find themselves seeking additional functionality and flexibility to streamline their workflows. This is where the right PPM tool comes into play, empowering teams to go beyond Jira’s native capabilities and take their project management to new heights. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of PPM tools that seamlessly integrate with Jira, allowing organizations to visualize, plan, and execute projects with enhanced efficiency and control.

Let’s discover how to choose the right PPM tool that will revolutionize your Jira workflow and propel your projects toward success.

Exploring Jira’s role in project portfolio management: limitations and considerations

Jira has established itself as a go-to project management tool for agile teams worldwide. Its agile-oriented features, customizable workflows, and robust issue-tracking capabilities make it a popular choice for teams of all sizes. 

However, when it comes to managing complex project portfolios, Jira’s native functionalities may have some limitations that organizations need to consider:

  • Lack of portfolio-level insights: Jira’s focus on individual projects may limit comprehensive reporting and analytics at the portfolio level, hindering informed decision-making and risk identification across projects.
  • Limited strategic planning features: Jira’s strength lies in execution and collaboration, but it may lack robust strategic planning capabilities like long-term road-mapping.
  • Resource management challenges: Jira provides basic resource management features, but it may lack advanced resource planning and optimization functionalities, leading to inefficient resource allocation and impacting project timelines and productivity.
  • Ineffective reporting and analytics: Manual reporting impedes accurate data consolidation, KPI tracking, and risk assessment, hindering project health evaluation and communication.

While Jira’s native capabilities offer a strong foundation for project management, let’s now shift our focus to the comprehensive expert review comparing the various PPM tools available for Jira.

Comparing and contrasting PPM tools for Jira: an expert review

Now, let’s embark on an enlightening journey through an expert review featuring Viktoriia Pogrebniak, a highly experienced Product Manager at PPM Express

Viktoriia will provide invaluable insights on various PPM tools for Jira, offering guidance on the key outcomes that these platforms can deliver. 

We begin our exploration with a close examination of Jira Advanced Roadmaps.

What is Jira Advanced Roadmaps?

Jira Advanced Roadmaps is a powerful PPM tool built specifically for Jira users. 

Advanced Roadmaps as an Jira PPM option

It offers advanced portfolio management capabilities, allowing teams to visualize, plan, and track projects and initiatives across multiple teams and projects within Jira. 

Key features of Jira Advanced Roadmaps include:

  • Interactive roadmaps: The tool provides a visual representation of project timelines, dependencies, and milestones, enabling teams to align and communicate project plans effectively.
  • Drag-and-drop planning: With an intuitive interface, Jira Advanced Roadmaps allows project managers to easily create, modify, and adjust project schedules, dependencies, and resource allocations.
  • Scenario planning: Teams can explore different scenarios and what-if analyses by creating and comparing multiple versions of project plans, allowing for better decision-making and risk assessment.
  • Capacity planning: The tool enables teams to estimate and allocate resources based on their availability, ensuring optimal resource utilization and avoiding over/under-booking.
  • Real-time insights: Jira Advanced Roadmaps provides real-time visibility into project progress, enabling teams to track milestones, identify bottlenecks, and make data-driven adjustments.

Now, let’s dive into the strengths of Jira Advanced Roadmaps, highlighting the key features that make it a powerful PPM tool within the Jira ecosystem:

  • Seamless integration: Jira Advanced Roadmaps seamlessly integrates with Jira, leveraging Jira’s project execution capabilities while providing enhanced portfolio management features.
  • Flexibility: Jira Advanced Roadmap can seamlessly integrate multiple issue sources, such as projects, boards, and filters, to create a comprehensive plan (roadmap). This allows for efficient work planning and visualization across multiple teams, enhancing collaboration and tracking progress.
  • Agile-friendly: The tool supports Agile methodologies, allowing teams to easily manage sprints, backlogs, and epics within the context of their portfolio.
  • Advanced planning and visualization: Jira Advanced Roadmaps offers robust planning and visualization capabilities, empowering teams to create realistic project plans and easily track progress.

However, it’s important to consider the potential weaknesses and limitations of Jira Advanced Roadmaps, which we’ll explore next:

  • Limited strategic planning: While Jira Advanced Roadmaps excels in project planning and execution, it may lack advanced strategic planning features, such as long-term road-mapping or portfolio-level financial planning.
  • Resource planning limitations: Jira Advanced Roadmaps offers resource planning primarily on the team level. Viewing resource allocation for a single resource may not be as optimal within the Advanced Roadmaps tool.

Continuing our expert review of PPM tools for Jira, let’s now shift our focus from Jira Advanced Roadmaps to Jira Align.

What is Jira Align?

Jira Align is an enterprise-level PPM tool designed to enable alignment and collaboration across multiple teams, programs, and portfolios. 

Jira Align as an Jira PPM option

It focuses on scaling Agile practices and provides robust capabilities for strategic planning, portfolio management, and cross-functional coordination. 

Key features of Jira Align include:

  • End-to-end visibility: Jira Align offers a centralized platform that provides end-to-end visibility into programs and portfolios. It allows teams to track progress, visualize dependencies, and align initiatives with strategic objectives.
  • Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) support: The tool is built to support organizations practicing the SAFe. It provides alignment with SAFe principles and allows for the management of multiple Agile teams and Agile release trains (ARTs).
  • Strategic planning and road-mapping: Jira Align enables organizations to define and track strategic objectives, map initiatives, and create long-term roadmaps. It helps align projects and programs with business goals, facilitating better decision-making and prioritization.
  • Dependency management: the tool allows for the identification and management of dependencies across projects and teams. It helps teams proactively address dependencies, mitigate risks, and ensure smooth cross-team collaboration.

Transitioning to Jira Align, let’s examine the strengths that set it apart as a comprehensive PPM solution, catering to enterprise-level agility and strategic planning:

  • Enterprise-level agility: Jira Align is specifically designed to support enterprise-level agility and scalability, making it suitable for organizations with large-scale projects and portfolios.
  • Smooth integration: Jira Align integrates with Jira Software, enabling seamless data exchange and providing a holistic view of the organization’s project portfolio.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: Jira Align facilitates collaboration and coordination among teams, enabling them to work together more effectively and align their efforts.

Despite its strengths, Jira Align may present certain challenges and limitations, which we’ll explore further in the following section:

  • Complexity and learning curve: Jira Align’s extensive capabilities and enterprise-scale functionality can lead to a steep learning curve, particularly for organizations new to Agile or scaling Agile practices.
  • Customization complexity: Extensive customization options can make the tool complicated to configure and maintain, requiring dedicated expertise and administration.

Building upon our exploration of Jira Align, let’s now shift our attention to PPM Express, examining its distinct features and functionalities in our expert review of PPM tools for Jira.

What is PPM Express?

PPM Express is a comprehensive PPM tool that integrates with Jira, providing organizations with centralized project portfolio management capabilities

It offers a range of features designed to streamline project planning, execution, and reporting. 

Key features of PPM Express include:

  • Portfolio management platform: PPM Express provides a centralized platform that allows teams to track project progress, resource utilization, and finances across the entire portfolio.
  • AI-powered project portfolio management: Through AI-driven analytics and insights, the tool enables organizations to make data-driven decisions and identify trends. Additionally, project managers can maintain focus on areas requiring attention and actively manage highlighted issues for improved project outcomes.
  • Integration capabilities: PPM Express integrates with Jira, Azure DevOps, Smartsheet, MS Project Online and Desktop, Project for the Web,, and MS Planner, enabling data synchronization and providing a seamless workflow between tools.
  • Resource planning and allocation: The tool enables efficient resource planning and allocation, allowing teams to manage resource capacity, identify bottlenecks, and ensure optimal resource utilization.
  • Financial management: PPM Express includes financial management features, such as budget tracking and cost analysis. 
  • Project management for teams: From task management and collaboration tools to project tracking and reporting capabilities, the software offers a user-friendly and collaborative environment that fosters productivity and efficiency.

Shifting our focus to PPM Express, we’ll now explore its unique strengths, including its user-friendly interface and robust reporting and analytics capabilities:

  • User-friendly interface: PPM Express offers an intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it easy for teams to navigate and adopt the tool without significant training or learning curves.
  • Clear portfolio hierarchy: PPM Express enables users to establish a clear portfolio hierarchy, facilitating the organization and visualization of projects, key dates, milestones, and dependencies.
  • Wide strategic planning capabilities: PPM Express offers a range of strategic planning capabilities, enabling teams to align projects with organizational goals and optimize resource allocation; provides the flexibility to utilize various prioritization models like ICE, RICE, WSJF, and others to effectively prioritize both the current backlog and new initiatives.
  • Robust reporting and analytics: The tool provides robust reporting and analytics capabilities with Power BI integration, allowing teams to generate custom reports, track KPIs and OKRs, and gain valuable insights into project health and performance.
  • No performance concerns: Users can rely on PPM Express for smooth performance and responsiveness, ensuring efficient project portfolio management without concerns about system performance.

However, it’s important to address the potential weaknesses and limitations of PPM Express, which warrant careful consideration as well:

  • Customization constraints: While PPM Express offers customization options, it may have some constraints in terms of flexibility and extensibility, limiting the ability to tailor the tool to specific organizational requirements.
  • Lack of scenario planning (coming soon): Currently, PPM Express does not include scenario planning capabilities. However, it is worth noting that scenario planning functionality is planned to be added in the near future, enhancing the tool’s strategic planning capabilities and enabling organizations to analyze and evaluate different project scenarios.
  • Learning curve: PPM Express offers a range of powerful features that may require some initial adaptation. However, with the support of dedicated success managers and comprehensive documentation, users can effectively navigate the learning curve, ensuring a smooth and streamlined onboarding process.

Continuing our expert review of PPM tools for Jira, we now turn our focus from PPM Express to BigPicture, exploring the unique features and strengths that each tool brings to project portfolio management within the Jira ecosystem.

What is BigPicture?

BigPicture is a comprehensive PPM tool that extends Jira’s capabilities by providing advanced project management and planning functionalities. 

BigPicture as an Jira PPM option

It offers a wide range of features designed to help organizations effectively manage their project portfolios. 

Key features of BigPicture include:

  • Roadmapping and planning: The tool enables organizations to create and visualize long-term roadmaps, allowing teams to align projects with strategic goals and easily track progress. It offers drag-and-drop planning, dependency management, and scenario modeling features.
  • Resource management: BigPicture provides resource management features, allowing organizations to effectively allocate resources, balance workloads, and optimize resource utilization. It helps identify resource constraints and improves decision-making regarding resource allocation.
  • Agile and hybrid support: BigPicture supports both Agile and hybrid project management methodologies. It allows organizations to manage Agile boards, sprints, and backlogs, while also offering traditional project management capabilities such as task dependencies and critical path analysis.
  • Reporting and analytics: The tool provides robust reporting and analytics capabilities, offering customizable dashboards, KPI tracking, and real-time project progress insights. This enables organizations to make data-driven decisions and monitor project health effectively.

Moving on to BigPicture, let’s uncover the strengths that make it a compelling PPM choice, empowering organizations with its robust feature set and customizable views:

  • Feature-rich and customizable: BigPicture offers a wide range of features and customization options, allowing organizations to tailor the tool to their specific project portfolio management needs.
  • Seamless Jira integration: The integration with Jira is seamless, enabling bi-directional data synchronization and providing a cohesive workflow between the two tools.
  • Scalability and flexibility: BigPicture is designed to scale with organizational growth, accommodating larger project portfolios and diverse project management methodologies.

Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge the potential weaknesses and considerations associated with BigPicture, which we’ll dive into next:

  • Learning curve: The extensive feature set of BigPicture can result in a steep learning curve, especially for users new to the tool or project portfolio management.
  • Complex configuration: Configuring BigPicture to align with specific organizational requirements can be complex. Customizing the tool to match your unique project portfolio management needs may require some time and effort.

Moving forward in our expert review of PPM tools for Jira, we will now shift our attention from BigPicture to Structure by Tempo, examining its features and capabilities for effective project portfolio management within the Jira ecosystem.

What is Structure by Tempo?

Structure by Tempo is a PPM tool that integrates with Jira, providing enhanced project portfolio management capabilities. 

Structure by Tempo as an Jira PPM option

It focuses on visualizing and organizing projects, issues, and teams within a hierarchical structure. 

Core features of Structure by Tempo include:

  • Flexible Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): Structure by Tempo enables the creation of a flexible WBS, allowing teams to break down projects into manageable components. It provides a clear overview of project progress, dependencies, and relationships between different work items.
  • Resource management and capacity planning: The tool offers resource management features, allowing organizations to allocate resources, track resource availability, and manage workloads. It helps optimize resource utilization and ensure the right resources are assigned to the right tasks.
  • Integration with Tempo Timesheets: Structure by Tempo seamlessly integrates with Tempo Timesheets, providing time-tracking and reporting capabilities. This integration allows for better visibility into resource allocation and project costs.

Lastly, let’s explore the strengths of Structure by Tempo, highlighting its hierarchical organization and integration with Tempo Timesheets, enabling clear project views and efficient resource management:

  • Hierarchical organization: The hierarchical structure provided by Structure by Tempo offers a clear overview of the project portfolio, facilitating project tracking, planning, and prioritization.
  • Customizable views and filters: Structure by Tempo provides customizable views and filters, enabling teams to focus on relevant project information and tailor the tool to their specific needs. It offers the ability to create personalized views, reports, and dashboards.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial to assess the potential weaknesses associated with Structure by Tempo, which we’ll discuss in the upcoming section:

  • Advanced portfolio-level planning: Structure by Tempo may have limitations in terms of advanced portfolio-level planning and strategic alignment features. Organizations with complex portfolio management needs may find the tool lacking in certain capabilities.
  • Learning curve: The tool may have a learning curve, particularly for users new to hierarchical project organization and structure management.

Now that we have conducted a comprehensive expert review of various PPM tools for Jira, let’s transition into a step-by-step process for choosing the right PPM solution that aligns with your organization’s needs and maximizes your Jira workflow efficiency.

Choosing the right PPM solution for Jira: a step-by-step process

Selecting the right project portfolio management solution for Jira is a critical decision that requires careful evaluation and consideration. 

To ensure a successful implementation and alignment with your organization’s needs, it is essential to follow a systematic step-by-step process. 

Let’s outline a process to help you choose the most suitable PPM solution for your Jira workflow.

#1 Comparing PPM tools based on requirements

Start by identifying your organization’s specific PPM requirements. 

Evaluate the features and functionalities offered by different PPM tools, such as PPM Express, BigPicture, or Jira Advanced Roadmaps. 

Compare these tools against your requirements, considering factors such as portfolio management capabilities, resource planning, reporting and analytics, integration with Jira, and scalability.

After comparing PPM tools based on requirements, the next step in the process is to prioritize features and functionalities that align closely with your organization’s project portfolio management goals.

#2 Prioritizing features and functionalities

Once you have identified the PPM tools that meet your requirements, prioritize the features and functionalities that are most important for your organization. 

Consider the must-have features and those that align closely with your project portfolio management goals. 

Focus on the tools that offer the essential capabilities needed to support your specific workflows and processes, like automation or advanced reporting features.

Once you have a list of prioritized features and functionalities, the next crucial step is considering budget constraints to ensure that the chosen PPM solution aligns with your organization’s financial resources.

#3 Considering budget constraints

Evaluate the pricing models and associated costs of the shortlisted PPM solutions. 

Consider both the upfront costs and any ongoing subscription or maintenance fees. Take into account your organization’s budget limits and weigh them against the value and ROI offered by each PPM tool. 

It’s important to strike a balance between cost-effectiveness and the functionality required to meet your project portfolio management needs.

After considering budget constraints, the next step in the process involves seeking valuable feedback and recommendations from other teams within your organization to gather insights on the shortlisted PPM solutions.

#4 Seeking feedback and recommendations from other teams

Gather insights and feedback from other teams within your organization who have experience with the shortlisted PPM tools. 

Engage in discussions with project managers, portfolio managers, and other stakeholders who have firsthand knowledge of the tools.

Their feedback can provide valuable insights into the user experience, tool effectiveness, and potential challenges. Additionally, seek recommendations or use cases from industry peers or professional networks to gain a broader perspective.

By following a step-by-step process to choose the right PPM solution for Jira, organizations can then seize the advantage and adopt PPM tools to maximize their Jira workflow efficiency and achieve project success.

Seizing the advantage: adopting PPM tools to maximize Jira workflow efficiency

Integrating a project portfolio management tool with Jira can unlock a multitude of benefits, enabling organizations to maximize their Jira workflow efficiency and achieve project success:

  • Enhanced visibility and control: Tools offer a centralized platform for tracking project portfolios, enabling informed decision-making and proactive issue resolution.
  • Efficient resource allocation: PPM tools optimize resource allocation, improving efficiency, productivity, and project outcomes.
  • Strategic alignment and decision-making: Tools align projects with strategic objectives, facilitating data-driven decision-making and resource allocation.
  • Streamlined collaboration and communication: Tools foster collaboration, information sharing, and progress tracking, ensuring stakeholder alignment throughout the project lifecycle.

It’s important to note that there is no right answer on what PPM tool to choose — you need to decide this yourself. 

But if you’re ready to take your project management to the next level, consider PPM Express, a comprehensive PPM tool. 

It provides project and portfolio managers with portfolio management capabilities, resource optimization features, and powerful reporting and analytics, empowering organizations to maximize their Jira workflow efficiency and achieve project success. 

Try PPM Express to experience the benefits of project portfolio management today.

From BigPicture to Beyond: A Guide to Choosing the Right PPM Tool for Your Jira Workflow
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