Velocity and burndown charts are used to monitor the development of an Agile project. The velocity report monitors the story points accomplished in a certain timeframe and allows team members to know how well they’re following the schedule. A burndown chart, on the other hand, is a graphical illustration of the remaining work and time. Time is often located on the horizontal axis and backlog or outstanding work on the vertical axis. A burndown chart can be used to determine when the work will be finalized. It’s often used in Scrum and other agile software development procedures.
Benefits of Burndown Charts
One tracking and planning tool
The team can break down the tasks and update estimated and remaining effort. This allows them to own the plan. They can plan and track their progress using the burndown chart.
Daily visibility reduces risks
Cost overrun and schedule overrun are significant metrics that are monitored in traditional project management on a weekly basis. The burndown chart provides feedback on schedule and effort on a daily basis, reducing the risks and increasing alarms once something goes wrong. For instance, if the progress line hovers above the ideal line, the team knows that there’s a problem. They can plan the right course of action and mitigate risks before they become large problems.
The team can plan what needs to be accomplished in a sprint and update the list of tasks. Since the updates are done on a daily basis, the team knows whether it’s on the right track to meet their objectives or not.
Communicate with stakeholders and clients
A burndown chart is a great tool for communicating with stakeholders and clients. It can be printed and put in an Agile room or even shared with stakeholders on a daily basis. A burndown chart provides visibility on the progress of a project. If there is no online tool, a burndown chart can be physically displayed using a chart paper or whiteboard and place in the area where the team works.
How to Make a Burndown chart
Break down the tasks. Every task must have associated hours that the team agrees on during the planning meeting. The burndown chart is then plotted. A lot of Agile tools such as Mingle, RTC and Rally have an in-built capability for burndown charts. A burndown chart, however, can still be maintained in a spreadsheet if you don’t have Agile tools. Remaining efforts are put on the Y axis, while dates are placed on the X axis.
Burndown charts can be plotted at the release level or sprint level. Sprint burndown charts are usually monitored using effort remaining, but it is also common for some to use story points to monitor release burndown.
Different variants of burndown charts have appeared since their inception. Some find it useful to make burnup charts at the release or sprint level. While the Cumulative Flow Diagram is becoming more common, burndown charts are still the most prevalent tracking tool among Agile practitioners because of their simplicity and effectiveness.