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How to effectively use basic tasks in BigPicture?

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In BigPicture, apart from the Jira issue, you have the possibility to create a basic task. It's easy to create, simply by clicking the “+” button in the top-left corner of the Gantt module. The 'Basic' label helps to distinguish BigPicture native tasks from Jira tasks.

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When do basic tasks work well?

In the context of BigPicture and BigGantt, basic tasks and Jira issues coexist under the same conditions. For example, you can establish a dependency in BigPicture between a basic task and a Jira issue, as shown in Figure 3.

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Figure 3. Basic tasks and Jira issues behave almost identically within BigPicture context, for instance, they can be interconnected with dependencies in the Board module. Note the ‘Some basic task’ card interconnected with the PP-7 Jira user story.

These are the most common ways users leverage basic tasks in BigPicture and BigGantt:

  1. Parent aggregating tasks. Whether you wish to total remaining/spent time, or count to do/in progress/done statuses, basic tasks are great aggregators. You can apply Sum, Min, Max, and other functions to issues residing in such a “container”. The aggregated data is displayed in the user-selected form in decimal, day, or hour format.
  2. Placeholders – If a component of your project is delivered by a contractor, another team, or coordinated in another tool, you can mark that work in BigPicture as a basic task. Also, you can integrate that subcontracted work with your project’s scope by using end-to-start, start-to-end, and other dependency arrows.
  3. Missing task levels. Phases and stages are normally missing from the Jira issue type glossary. Therefore, if you have just three stages in your project, it’s much faster to create ‘Stage 1’, ‘Stage 2’, ‘Stage 3’ of basic tasks in BigPicture, rather than hang about configuring the ‘Phase’ issue type in Jira. ‘Analysis’ > ‘Development’ > ‘Testing’ is the most common naming convention for such high-level basic tasks.
  4. Milestones. Many BigPicture users use basic tasks to mark particular points on the project timeline to avoid cluttering their Jira backlog with milestones.
  5. Integrate Jira issues and Trello cards under BigPicture basic tasks. Starting from BigPicture 8 you can connect Trello to BigPicture Program. BigPicture already integrates with Jira and will soon integrate with an unlimited number of Jira instances. You can aggregate tasks coming from Jira and Trello instances under a single basic task and benefit from Gantt charts, Resources, and other project management tools while your teams keep the tools they love.
  6. BigPicture’s Box cloning mechanism uses basic tasks to replace non-issue Jira entities (like Components, Versions, Projects).  The app is capable of creating Jira Issues and recreating the structure. It is not capable of creating anything that is not a Jira Issue while cloning, therefore it will automatically replace the original Version or Component with a Basic Task.

Project templates made of Basic tasks

In addition to accessibility, there is another benefit that BigPicture basic tasks offer over Jira issues - the possibility to group basic tasks into templates/project drafts. We have noticed that many Product/Project Managers prearrange the ‘Analysis – Development – Testing’ sequence.

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Figure 4. Create templates for new projects consisting of basic tasks.

Using basic tasks allows quick configuration of this micro-structure in the Gantt chart/Roadmap timeline and then gradually hook up Jira tasks to the three parent tasks as the project takes shape in figure 4. 

Basic task or Jira issue?

Given the option of basic tasks and Jira issues, what to use and when? The basic task is probably more practical than a Jira issue, when:

  • a much simpler basic task does the job for you,
  • and you don’t have/need to have visibility on that task in Jira.

Basic tasks do not inflate the Jira backlog. Moreover, basic tasks are quicker to set up, more flexible to operate in BigPicture, and capable of being “parents” to other tasks. They are designed for planning and scheduling work.

 There are 2 options for creating a new basic task: Create task > Basic task or Create sub-task > Basic task? What are the differences?

In the former scenario, the newly created basic task will be a brother of the currently highlighted task; while in the latter case, the newly created basic task will be a child of the currently highlighted task.

How to delete an artificial/basic task?

It is pretty easy to delete the basic task once it has fulfilled its role; just highlight the task to be deleted and press the trash button as shown in figure 5.

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Basic tasks vs Roadmap objectives

If you like the simplicity of basic tasks, test the objectives available in the Roadmap module. Similarly to a basic task, all you need to do to set an objective is to press ‘+’ button and enter a name for the objective. No need to fill a dozen Jira fields. The objective is another BigPicture native, business-oriented item – an alternative to engineering, development-biased Jira issues.

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Figure 6. Creating an objective in the Roadmap module of BigPicture. The ‘Artificial…’ placeholder stands for what artificial tasks once were. Note that the Roadmap module was relabeled to ‘Objectives’ for the purpose of this Smart house SAFe ART Box.

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