What is a Burndown Chart?

A burndown chart is a tool used by Agile teams to gather information about both the work they have completed on a project and the work that is yet to be done within a given time period, or as Scrum teams call it, a Sprint. Agile teams use this simple, visual tool to determine how their project is progressing in the prescribed time and how much has been completed during each iteration.

Oftentimes, teams can use their burndown chart as a prediction tool that allows them to visualize when their project will be completed. Burndown charts also provide insight into the health of their sprint. Upon reflection of the burndown chart, teams are given insights into bottlenecks in the process and are then able to determine solutions to obstructions, which lead to meaningful outcomes.

How to Use a Burndown Chart

burndown chart

During sprint meetings, teams determine the work breakdown of the project and predict the time in which each task can be completed. From this task breakdown, the plots of the burndown chart can be created. Once created, a line is shown to reflect the ideal number of effort hours needed to complete the project. As the project progresses, teams can use the burndown chart to:

  • Determine the amount of work done in each iteration
  • Show the work completed
  • Visualize the remaining work
  • Predict when a project will be finished

Benefits of Using a Burndown Chart

A burndown chart is simple, straightforward, and easy to read. Burndown charts can be a huge resource for teams visualizing their projects. Potential problems in the workflow can be identified quickly. Those problems can be resolved so that the necessary work can be done to get the project back on track. A burndown chart also acts as a motivator to teams as they can see what they have already accomplished within a project.

How Can a Burndown Chart Help Your Sprint?

Burndown charts allow team members to see the progress of individual sprints. This allows individuals to see how their work is progressing and if the entire team is on track or behind schedule. Teams can also use the burndown chart to reflect on their overall sprint. Reviewing the chart can show how the team is working together, as well as the honesty and commitment of the team members. As mentioned, teams can also identify changes, gather information about why there was a delay in the project. From there, teams can collaborate and brainstorm to create solutions.

Burndown charts help teams visualize their projects to see what work has been completed and how much is left to be done. They also provide insight into a team’s sprint, indicating bottlenecks and problems quickly. Analyzing a burndown chart let’s teams see if they are reaching their sprint goals as well as brainstorm how to reduce interruptions in their workflow.

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