jira gantt chart

Jira Gantt Charts: Tutorial & Guide for Project Managers

Jira Gantt charts allow project managers to plan, schedule, and communicate timelines meticulously. So, it’s no surprise that Jira, one of the most popular apps for project planning, makes it easy to create Gantt charts with Jira data.

Jira offers two built-in roadmap features, which often get used like Gantt charts: Jira Timeline and Advanced Roadmaps. They also allow external tools to make Gantt charts with Jira project plans.

By the end of this post, we will:

  • Give you a quick overview of Gantt charts
  • Explain how roadmaps are different to Gantt charts
  • Show you what Jira’s Timeline and Advanced Roadmaps features can (and cannot) do
  • Provide two step-by-step guides for making a Jira Timeline chart and a Jira Gantt chart

A Quick Overview of Gantt Charts

The Gantt chart’s arrangement of tasks, timelines, and progress paints a clear view for project managers and their teammates to work efficiently. 

Invented by Henry L. Gantt, a famed engineer and management consultant, Gantt charts forever changed project management in the early 1910s. From the start, Gantt designed his charts so supervisors could know whether or not production was on schedule. As a visionary thinker, Gantt understood the power of visual representation to clearly and concisely depict project timelines and progress.

What is a Gantt chart?

A Gantt chart is a detailed bar chart showing a project’s tasks and completion time, helping project managers know what to do and when.

These charts have three parts:

  • On the left, there’s a list of tasks.
  • On the right, there’s a timeline with bars that illustrates when a project starts, finishes, and overlaps.
  • On top of the horizontal bars, there are dates or time periods (e.g., months, quarters),

Example of a Gantt chart made in Visor:

jira gantt chart made in visor

Differences Between Gantt Charts and Roadmaps

Many people use Gantt charts and roadmaps interchangeably. Even Jira’s “Advanced Roadmaps” is often used as a Gantt. However, roadmaps and Gantt charts are not the same thing. We explain why in this section.

Roadmap 101:

A roadmap is NOT a project plan.

Instead, a roadmap provides a high-level view of what your team will deliver (or, what they could deliver). For example, in a traditional software development lifecycle, users collaboratively identify concepts for potential future work and include them in a roadmap so they can later be vetted.

Roadmaps are also fantastic for aligning your project with your company’s vision and for sharing with external stakeholders.

Jira offers Timeline (formerly Roadmaps) and Advanced Roadmaps, which look a lot like Gantts. We’ll dive into these features more in depth in the next section. In the meantime, we’ll cover how Roadmaps and Gantt charts are used.

Common Use Cases for Roadmaps:

  1. Share high-level strategy and deliverables with external stakeholders
  2. Compile projects to vet for potential future work
  3. Align future projects with company vision

Gantt Chart 101:

Unlike roadmaps, Gantt charts can handle the nitty-gritty details of your project plans. Think of the Gantt chart as your detailed to-do list; it precisely lists tasks, durations, and their order, perfect for shorter projects with clear deadlines. It helps you track progress and ensures everyone’s on the same page.

4 Benefits of Using Gantt Charts:

1. A panoramic view breeds clarity. 🌄

When setting up and managing a project, Gantt charts provide a panoramic view of how all the pieces will come together. As a project manager, you can see what isn’t finished yet, who’s responsible for each task, and when they should complete their park of the project. This visual clarity ensures that everyone on your team is on the same page and working harmoniously.

2. Visualizing project plans makes stakeholders happy. 😺

Another benefit of using a Gantt chart is the ability to present a clear visual representation of your project’s timeline. This clarity lets you quickly assess how various components fit together and whether the project is on track, which is invaluable during team meetings and stakeholder briefings. By adding visual cues to Gantt charts like Jira Milestones, project managers can provide clarity. In short, Gantt charts foster transparent communication and informed decision-making.

3. Resources get allocated more efficiently.

By mapping out tasks and their deadlines, Gantt charts help allocate resources effectively. You can identify potential resource bottlenecks and ensure that you’re leveraging each team member’s skills. Efficient resource allocation enhances productivity and minimizes resource conflicts, keeping your project on a steady course toward successful completion.

4. Plan for contingencies like a pro. 👊

Let’s face it: The unexpected can happen anytime. Gantt charts allow you to plan and analyze those “what-if” scenarios. When unexpected changes occur or new information arises, you can explore various hypothetical scenarios by adjusting task durations and assignments directly within the Gantt chart. By simulating different scenarios, teams can make informed choices that help to mitigate risks and optimize project outcomes, enhancing overall project flexibility and adaptability.

Jira Gantt Charts, Roadmaps, and Timelines

Jira offers two Gantt-like features; the Timeline feature is available with all plans (Free, Standard, Premium, and Enterprise), while the Advanced Roadmaps is available only when users have a more expensive Premium or Enterprise plan.

Top Questions About Jira Gantt Charts & Roadmaps:

1. Does Jira have Gantt charts?

Yes, Jira used to have both a “Roadmap” and an “Advanced Roadmaps” feature, which look and act like Gantt charts. However, Atlassian changed their Basic “Roadmap” to “Timeline” in May of 2023. Both of these features are still used for high-level roadmap use cases. However, many project managers also use them for planning projects with Gantt charts.

2. What are the limitations of Jira’s Timeline (formerly Roadmap) Gantt chart?

While Timeline is included in all Jira plans (including the free plan), it does have these limitations:

  • Timeline does not allow you to show Subtasks, which can be limiting if you need a Gantt that gets into the nitty gritty. Despite users voting for this Subtask feature, Timeline only allows you to show Epics with their corresponding Story, Task, and/or Bug.
  • Timeline does not allow you to include multiple projects in one view, which can make it challenging to show a large overview of multiple initiatives. Atlassian says it best with this quote:

The basic roadmaps feature on Jira Software Cloud is targeted at a single software team with one project per roadmap. Currently, this view only works with issues from the backlog associated with one project.

  • Timeline not display issues based on start or end date or any other criteria other than Issue ID.
  • Timeline does not allow you to set custom colors. The colors are determined by the statuses of the corresponding Epics/Issues.

For a quick overview of Jira’s Timeline option, check out the YouTube short we made on Jira Gantt Chart Options.

3. What is Jira’s Advanced Roadmaps feature?

Jira’s Advanced Roadmaps is a paid feature, included only in the Premium and Enterprise plans. Advanced Roadmaps provides more functionality than Jira’s free Timeline view; it can show Subtasks and offers cross-project planning. Due to these features, Advanced Roadmaps can enable the management of more complex projects across multiple teams.

Some limitations of Advanced Roadmaps include limited sharing functionality for unlicensed members, not being able to choose specific colors for your Gantt, and requiring some training and configuration to get started. Still, Advanced Roadmaps is a popular solution for Jira users who are on top-tier Jira plans.

Jira Gantt Chart Free Options

As discussed above, only Timeline view is available as part of Jira’s free plan. Whereas Advanced Roadmaps are included in Premium and Paid plans. If you want to add subtasks, connect projects together, format your table with certain colors and so on, you may find Timeline view limiting.

It you can’t or don’t want to upgrade to a Premium or Paid plan, you could try exporting Jira data to Excel, or Google Sheets and constructing a Gantt in a spreadsheet.

But, as you can probably imagine you’ll need to create the Gantt in your spreadsheet from scratch, keep importing/maintaining and formatting the data in it, and even once all that is being done, you still will have a bit of a patched together, untidy and unimpressive Gantt chart for your Jira data.

All this makes Excel/Google Sheets a worse solution than Jira’s Timeline view.

Instead, a better free option is to use a complimentary tool like Visor. Tools like Visor present your Jira data in a range of views, including Gantts and boards. Visor has all the full functionality of a Gantt based planning system, plus a bi-directional integration with Jira, so you don’t need to manually update data, or worry about everything staying in sync.

Visor has paid plans, but the free version is very unrestricted, so you’ll have everything you need to create colorful, intuitive Gantt Charts all using your existing Jira data.

In the sections below I’ll cover how to create Gantt Charts using Jira Timeline and Visor, so you can pick the right approach for you.

Two Jira Gantt Chart Options: Quick Overview

Option #1: Timeline Chart in Jira

Because Jira’s Advanced Roadmaps is only available with Premium or Enterprise plans, we’ll cover the free (but more limited) Timeline feature in Jira. As stated in the above section, this option does not allow you to include Subtasks, connect projects, or choose specific colors for your Jira Gantt chart.

However, Timeline does provide dependencies and works for basic resource allocation.

Option #2: Jira Gantt Chart in Visor

We’ll also go over how to make a free Gantt chart with your Jira data in Visor for folks who:

  • Share their Gantt charts with stakeholders who don’t access Jira
  • Need to connect multiple projects or add Subtasks
  • Want additional color and formatting options

Option #1: Create a Jira Timeline Gantt Chart

Because Jira’s Timeline functionality doesn’t allow Subtasks, this option is best for users who want a basic, high-level view of projects. This feature is for teams who have just one project to work with; connecting projects requires the Advanced Roadmaps option.

Step 1: Log in to Jira and find the “Projects” tab on the menu bar.

jira interface with a user clicking on "projects"

Step 2: Select the Jira project you want to create a Gantt chart or Roadmap with.

Step 2: Select the project you want to create a Gantt view with.

Step 3: Next, click Timeline View to see your Gantt chart.

Option #2: Create a Jira Gantt Chart in Visor

With Visor, you can include Subtasks, connect multiple projects with JQL, and choose the exact colors you want in your Gantt. Visor is free (up to 250 records) and has a popular bi-directional integration with Jira. Visor also supports over 75 types of Jira fields and nested child/parent relationships.

Step 1: Connect your Jira data to Visor.

If you’re new to Visor, create a new workbook and connect your Jira data to Visor. Connecting Jira to Visor is secure, and your data imports almost immediately.

visor jira connect screen

Step 2: Choose the Jira project you want to import.

Next, choose the project you want to import, and whether you want to maintain or ignore nesting.

visor jira nested import screen

Step 3: Once your project is imported. Press the Gantt View Tab.

Once your Jira project imports press the “Gantt View” tab at the bottom of the screen. Then, you can quickly select the data you want in your Gantt view, including what date fields you want to plot for your start and end dates.

gantt chart drag and drop

Step 4: Customize and share.

From here, you can easily customize your Gantt chart any way you like, whether it’s your brand colors or your preferred coloring coding system. You can also share it with stakeholders.

colorful jira gantt chart in visor

2-Minute Video Tutorial: Jira Gantt Chart in Visor

Check out how easy it is to make a Jira Gantt Chart in Visor by watching this tutorial.

Ready to get started with Visor?

It’s free to get started with Visor. No credit card is needed. Import your Jira data into Visor today to format, visualize, edit, or share your Jira data.

Gantt Charts in Jira – Summary

Transforming your Jira data into a Gantt chart drives clarity and efficiency while making stakeholders happy. With Visor, you can quickly use your Jira data to create different Gantt views for different audiences. Drill down into the weeds in one Gantt view and share a high-level roadmap in another – all with just a few clicks.

Whether you choose to use Jira’s Advanced Roadmaps feature, their Timeline feature, or Visor’s free Jira Gantt chart functionality, we hope you leave this post knowing how to start making a Gantt chart you’ll be proud to share. Because visualizing your project plans in a Gantt is always a wise move.

Are you ready to begin?

Visor is secure, free, and doesn't require a credit card.

Get Started For Free