Burndown chart

burndown chart

Highly used in scrum teams, the burndown chart (sometime called burn chart) tracks the progress of Scrum teams’ work. Very fast to keep it up to date, I advise you to always accompany your sprint of this graph very revealing of possible blockages.

The scrum teams are very familiar with this practice of the burndown chart and this article is intended for new people who want to discover the scrum practices widely used. Let see together how to set up a Burndown Chart.

Make the basic template of the burndown chart

To make a Burndown Chart, we will start by making a vertical axis representing the number of story points ; we will put the sum of the story points of all user-stories of the current sprint (above).

Tip: I strongly advise to put the total number of story points of the sprint items that meet the sprint goal for your burndown chart. Often, not all items answer to it.

Then we will put the worked days of the sprint on the horizontal axis; either you put numbers or letters to represent the day (often easier to read).

simple template of burndown chart
simple template of burndown chart – burn chart

Now that this is done, we will make the ideal route to reach the goal. You have to know that we are talking about “remaining story points” and no “Done” story points on the vertical axis. So we start at the opening of the sprint at 35 going to 0 at the end of Sprint.

Then, we draw a red linear line which will be the ideal axis of progress of the sprint like this:

simple template of burndown chartsimple template of burndown chart with the ideal route  – burn chart

Don’t try to perfectly follow this line, it’s impossible and it’s not the objective. It only allows to locate the progress of the Sprint; the scrum master can thanks to it to analyze the situation even to find solutions in case of troubles noted.

Now that the template for this burndown chart is done, it will only be necessary to change the values ​​of the axes at the beginning of Sprint (Excel, Google Sheet …). You must avoid wasting time to redo it completely in each sprint.

Keep your Burndow Chart up to date

To keep the Burndown Chart up to date, I advise you to post it on the wall (visual management) and plot the new day at the Daily.

For example, compared to our template, Tuesday on the wall board, a user-story of story points 2 is in “Done”. We will draw a blue curve that loses 2 story points on our burndown chart. like this :

burndown chart
burndown chart – burn chart

Indeed, this is not more complex than that.

You just have to do the same thing every morning to have a good view of the sprint progress.

Be careful, even if the blue line is above the red line, don’t directly raise an alert. It is impossible to follow this ideal line as I said above. Each context and each project may lead to different conclusions.

On the burndown chart, a blue line coming up?

I have already seen people doing rising lines (on a day) on a Burndow Chart. The explanation is simple: the product owner added a user-story on the board.

If this addition of one user story was necessary for the sprint goal and the development team agreed with this addition, the line could ride.

However, in the case of an addition of user story not related to the objective, it is not necessary to raise the curve; to put it simply, we don’t take this user story into account on the burndown chart. I advise you to take this user-story and mark it in “IMPEDIMENT” (disruption).

If I advise you to follow this rule as scrum master, it is that this rule makes sense on any observations of delay. The blue tracking line should never go up for no good reason. We consider that the burndown chart only takes the user stories on which the team is committed at the start of the sprint (or even the items that only meet the sprint goal).

Conclusion burndown chart

Well known in the scrum teams, the burndown chart will  have any secrets for you. Why not use a burndow chart in your teams?

You can also go see the burnup chart: Burnup Chart – track the progress

Usefull linkBurndown Chart – savoir le construire (fr)

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About Judicaël Paquet 190 Articles
Judicaël Paquet (agile coach and senior devops) My activities in France and Switzerland: - agile transformation architect - customized agile training - sensitization and manager coaching - agile maturity audits and situations - agile coaching (teams, orga, product owner, scrum master, agile coach) Specialties: scrum, kanban, management 3.0, scalability, lean startup, agile method.

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