If you need a roadmapping solution for planning projects, you may be choosing between Advanced Roadmaps and Structure.Gantt. Here's a rundown of when you can stick to Advanced Roadmaps versus when you might want to extend your capabilities with Structure.Gantt – and when you can just use both.
Structure.Gantt is an Agile-friendly Gantt extension of the Structure for Jira app; Advanced Roadmaps (AR) is a Jira solution included with Jira Cloud Premium, Jira Cloud Enterprise, and Jira Data Center. While they sound similar, they offer a different set of tools and have different strengths. Which one to choose? Well, it depends on your project needs, experience level, and expectations for the future of your organization.
First, costs are obviously a factor here: If you use Jira Server or a standard plan for Jira Cloud, you have to decide between buying something on the Atlassian Marketplace vs. budgeting for an expensive upgrade to access AR (alongside a few other perks).
If you've already spent the money on those deluxe Cloud platforms or Data Center, you already have access to AR, so adding Structure and the Structure.Gantt extension would be an additional cost.
Is that worthwhile? Which path should an organization choose? We'll start by paraphrasing a famous proverb: "If you want to go fast, go with AR; if you want to go far, go with Structure.Gantt." Here's why.
The basics on Advanced Roadmaps
Advanced Roadmaps is a straightforward solution that's good for putting a plan together when your teams are fairly uncomplicated. You can lay out your plans based on capacity, track your dependencies, compare competing priorities and more, all in a sandbox environment that allows you to play around with scenarios and plot out the project's future. As soon as you spell out your course of action and decide to move forward with those plans, Jira will populate those fields -- and that's it! You get a nice roadmap for going forward.
Benefits: Simplicity and speed. If your projects are still straightforward enough that you can easily follow them in out-of-the box Jira, AR is a useful solution. You can get up and running quickly, with very little learning curve. It's especially good for when you have one project manager in the driver's seat, working with teams that all function identically.
Drawbacks: AR is less useful when things get messy. If your projects or teams are larger and more interconnected and complex, it doesn't have the tools and features to reflect their real status and clearly show data relating to tasks. Also, it doesn't allow for "in-flight" project changes — if you need to make updates mid-project, it won't support that. And as soon as you want to work with sprints instead of the original rough estimates, it's not the tool for the job.
The basics on Structure for Jira + Structure.Gantt
Say your organization is growing — you have multiple project managers, more than 100 Jira users, and individual teams that sometimes handle tasks differently. For example, say one team uses story points while another uses time estimates, or some teams use Scrum while others use Kanban. Structure can support that complexity and provide more clarity and data for smarter decision-making.
Benefits: Structure provides real-time data — when you're in the thick of a project, Structure can tell you what's going on. It is nuanced enough to reflect the reality of how your teams work, it can create a unified source for if you have multiple project managers. It supports larger initiatives and portfolio-level work. Once you get out of the beginner phase of your project management journey, that's ideal for Structure.
Drawbacks: It takes longer to fully understand Structure and maximize its value to your team. With any powerful solution, there's a learning curve involved, as well as more setup work required — and that's definitely true of Structure.
Wait, why not both?
Your decision may vary depending on whether you're on Jira Cloud or Data Center/Server. Because of the architecture of cloud vs on-prem instances, DC and Server users can successfully use AR and Structure.Gantt in tandem on the same projects – you may, in other words, roadmap your project in AR and then move to Structure.Gantt for in-flight project management with only minimal steps in between (Note: Team-based capacity is one exception to this – it's the only key feature that, at this moment, AR has and Structure.Gantt does not.)
So if you've got a good thing going in AR, you can add Structure.Gantt to take your process to the next level. Eventually, some users opt to move all roadmapping into Structure.Gantt just to simplify, but others may be entirely satisfied with using both.
But for Cloud deployments, you're working within different systems for both AR and Structure; the two solutions can't share all project and roadmap data with each other. While we know of organizations on Cloud that use both AR and Structure.Gantt separately, the two solutions are used for different teams or different parts of a project process.
Making your decision
- If you already have AR through one of the higher-tier platforms: It makes sense to see whether it works for your organization before exploring additional apps. If your needs become more complicated — if you find yourself frequently leaning on Excel exports and struggling to keep track of your data, for example — you might want to move on to Structure at that point.
- If you don't already have AR: That situation is a bit trickier. It's important to consider the cost of an upgrade — you have to consider the value of Cloud Premium's, Cloud Enterprise's, or Data Center's various perks to see if that package is worthwhile to you, and compare that to the standalone costs of Structure and Structure.Gantt for a broader roadmapping solution.
Find out more
If you want to dig deeper into which solution to choose, or how to use both, the best next step is to get in touch with the Structure Team. We'll ask about your setup, requirements and pain points, and we can talk over the best path forward. We'll help you consider your options and determine your next steps — with or without Structure and Structure.Gantt.