Risk Management in Jira using BigPicture

Risk Management in Jira using BigPicture 1280 720 Przemek Ciesielski

In this article, we will discuss risk management in Jira using the BigPicture app, which is one of the best project management apps that you can find in the Atlassian ecosystem for JIRA.

We will show you the risk module, which is situated on the screen below:

From this article, you will know how the risk module looks like, how to use it and how to use it correctly? What information can get out of it? What does it bring to the table? Let’s go!

It’s worth noting that in BigPicture there are several modules available: Gantt, Scope, Board, Roadmap, Resources, Teams, Risks, and Reports. The Risks is the module that we will be interested in today though.

Simplicity is King

Almost everybody likes the Risk module. It’s a surprise to me because I think that this kind of risk management is pretty simplistic. But at the same time, it turns out that not many companies want to have a robust risk management solution. They want a place where they can store the risks, review them from time to time, and react based on the information they get.

 First of all, it’s worth noticing that the Risk module contains two different views, and they are listed over here:

There is a matrix view and a table view. You can work with both of them, or you can work on the one you prefer. Both of them show you the same set of data, so it doesn’t really matter whether you’re looking at the Matrix or the Table view. 


Risk categories and connection to Jira

It’s worth noticing that risks in the BigPicture are based on two values primarily, a risk consequence and a risk probability. These two values, first of all, determine that the task or a Jira issue is a risk, and then it also, of course, decides where the issue is going to be placed on the matrix.

You probably know, that Jira is based on issues. And also, the BigPicture is a tool that is working on those issues coming from Jira. It doesn’t create its own risks. It allows you to import issues from JIRA, which means that you are continually working on Jira data.

What’s more you can also reach those issues from outside of BigPicture. You can create a custom report out of those risks. You can grab those risks and import them into another Jira app. You can even reach into those risks with the API and capture them to an external app for integration purposes. It provides you with all kinds of flexibility that we personally really like from our software solutions.


2 different approaches to creating risks

OK, so we know that we are working on issues. We know that two primary values need to be provided for an issue to be considered a risk. All that’s left to know is that the risk, or the issue that should represent the risk, needs to fall into the program’s scope that we are looking at right now. Then creating risks and managing them is pretty straightforward, and that’s the beauty of it. 

But then you might also wonder – if the risk is a Jira issue, then should I use standard isue types, or create my own? There are different pros and cons of both approaches. I dive into them in more details in our training for the BigPicture app. (You can find it here)

Adding a task that already exists in your project plan is easy. With just a few clicks you select the issue you want to add to the Risk module, provide consequence and probability values and that’s it. You can of course also create a brand new issue, no problem here as well. 

The second approach is to create your own issue type, a separate one exclusively assigned to be a risk. And that’s the approach I prefer because it gives you a very nice distinction between everyday Jira tasks and the risks. It gives you more freedom. You can still provide all the values on the level of that risk issue, add your own custom fields, you can also connect this issue with all the tasks, user stories, whatever that this risk touches, or is connected with by a standard Jira link. 


Adding a new risk to the registry

The scope of my box is the demo project, I need to make sure that it’s selected. The issue type that I am interested in is the risk issue type. It’s the one I have created, or I might have asked my admin to create for me. Please notice that there is some customization connected with this issue type. My regular issue would have all of those fields, there are plenty of them on the screen below. You probably would like to limit those fields to only the ones you are interested in when you’re thinking about risks though. But I have created 2 new fields for me that are available only on this risk issue: “Risk mitigation plan” and “Risk reserve budget”.

I can fill in my mitigation plan and have it ready for all the status meetings and risk review meetings. The second field is a numerical field used for creating a reserve as a contingency for times when things do go sideways. This money is booked for me somewhere in my budget to react to the risk that has materialized. 

I guess it’s worth noting, that after the risk gets created you can also move it around very quickly. If I want to change the consequences and probability values, I drag and drop the issue elsewhere on the matrix view, simple as that. In the Table view it’s quit easy too, you just hit “Edit” button and change the values.

Configuring and editing your risk cards

Another cool thing in the Risk module is that you can configure how your risk card looks like. It’s available through the box configuration. Check out the screen below:

You can do all kind of things here: delete the entire row risk on the card, add new ones (with one or two columns), use icon-like fields and also configure how the data gets displayed. The user interface is intuitive and simple to use. The right panel allows you to pick from any Jira available field, including custom fields.

You can also use the magnifying glass icon to just put the card on the full-screen kind of mode for presentation purposes.

Very handy thing to use during some risk review meetings with your team or with your board.


And another useful feature is that you can also edit the risk task by just clicking the pencil icon.

Summary and some tips

We know that we are working on JIRA data. We know that we have two views available here. Both of them are pretty useful. We know that we can easily add things to the Risk module, either by creating new issues or adding existing ones and just assigning consequence and probability values to them. We know that we can edit the risk card and that we can enlarge it and use it for presentation purposes. I didn’t mention that there are also quick filters that can narrow down the risk registry if you have quite a lot of them identified. Again, we explain how to use the quick filters, define them, how they work and what they are based on in our training (link at the end of the article). So if you want to learn more, definitely reach out to us about that.

Be smart and get help to get it right

As I mentioned initially, I think that the BigPicture is the best and the most comprehensive project management tool that you can get your hands on in the Jira environment. At the same time, it isn’t a simple tool. It has lots of features that sometimes are hard to discover. We are currently working with the customer who has been working with BigPicture, trying to implement it for the past half a year. They did some demo projects, they did some pilot phase, and they invited us to have a look at their instance to see where they are at, and to learn what else we could do to enhance their experience with the software. We had a session with them just yesterday (as of writing this article), and we took a look at their instance. We noticed that similarly to almost all the clients in the same situation, they are using 30% – 40% of the functionalities that BigPicture provides. They do not understand the depth of features that the tool has. They do not understand very well the connection between BigPicture and Jira. They are not using it properly to their advantage. They are doing lots of things manually where they could be automating, and they are not sure how to present their data correctly for higher management, C-level employees, people that want to have the aggregated views of whatever they are working with, like projects portfolios, programs.

So this is why I strongly advise that if you are thinking about implementing BigPicture, if you are thinking about employing this excellent tool to help you manage projects, programs, portfolios in your company, educate yourself first. It’s worth knowing what is possible before you start designing the solution for your company. And we will probably quite soon record another video where we will be talking about the whole implementation process that we we go through with our customers. It has been proven many, many times, and it works. But for now, remember that professional help might be something that is worth considering. 

If you would like to talk with us about how to do it properly or maybe how we could help you in the process, feel free to reach out to us, click hereDrop us a message, we will reach out to you. We can spend a short session with you for free to talk about where you are, what you are searching for, what are your needs, and how BigPicture can help you IF it can help you, because we aren’t saying that it’s perfect for every scenario. We will tell you if it’s a useful tool for you or not, if there is something better on the market, we will give you a better solution to look into and try to give you as much value out of your requirements as possible.

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