Burn Down Chart

How to read your Burn-Down Chart?

A Burn Down Chart is a useful tool which is commonly used during stand-up meetings for assessing how much of the work has been completed for a given assignment. It can even be used as a forecasting tool as it provides a rough idea of how one is doing for the current sprint. Most Agile practitioners use the simple, visually appealing format because it can be understood easily by all of the team members.

by Pete R.

How to read your Burn-Down Chart?

How to Maintain a Burn-Down Chart?

For the Scrum team to effectively create or maintain a Burn-Down chart, they should firstly implement a task breakdown. It would happen during the sprint planning meeting, where each of the tasks would be identified in the analysis. Each task identified will have an allotted amount of time that would be designed for the completion of that task. The ideal amount of time is 12 hours and not. This could be broken down into either two 6 hour days.

Once, the task breakdown is complete, and the team would then plot and create the Burn Down Chart. When the team assumes that each task can be completed at the same rate, along with the rest of the tasks, the ideas would then be reflected in the steady progress.

How to Read a Burn-Down Chart?

The Burn Down Chart is used by teams to track the product development effort that is remaining in the sprint. Usually, the Burn Down chart should consist of the following.

  • Real progress of the effort.
  • Ideal effort as a guideline.
  • Y-Axis to display the remaining effort.
  • X-Axis to show the working days.

Companies use different attributes on the Y-Axis. All of these have their pros and cons.

Number of Stories

New Agile teams will use the Burn-Down chart for displaying the number of items that are on the Y-Axis. As stories require different effort to be complete, they should continue with the approach. The chart will not explain the real iteration status.

Use for Understanding

If there are process gaps which need to be identified, then the simplicity of the Burn Down chart will not be helpful. Two lines will not be sufficient as they only display the summary of the work of all the team members, and the gaps have to be identified using the task board.

How to React On Anomalies?

Generally, it is unclear if the team is too late to react on an anomaly or somebody has added additional work. It is more accurate in case that an equal amount of work has been completed as there would be no progress that is indicated.

In such a situation, viewing the total size of the Sprint Backlog will prove to be helpful. Any change in the overall size will provide a clear explanation for the issue. Impediment indicators will come in handy, which is why they should be used. Having them will give a better view of the sprint and help in finishing the work on time.


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