Burndown Charts and the Stories it Can Tell | Zentao
Burndown charts are one of the simplest project management tools to use, but they can also tell some interesting stories.
One of the best ways to measure progress and use data as a means for change is through burndown charts. A burndown chart, also known as a burn down chart, is a graphical representation of work that has been completed over time. It's often used in project management and software development. The benefits of using this type of chart are that it allows you to quickly identify changes or trends within your project by showing what was done, how much remains undone, and how fast each task has been accomplished.
Let's take a look at how burndown charts can be used in project management and what benefits this tool offers.
What is a Burndown Chart?
As defined by Wikipedia, a burn down chart is a graphical representation of work left to do versus time. The outstanding work (or backlog) is often on the vertical axis, with time along the horizontal. That is, it is a run chart of outstanding work. It is used to predict when all of the work will be completed.
It is often used in agile software development methodologies such as Scrum. However, burn down charts can be applied to any project containing measurable progress over time. Outstanding work can be represented in terms of either time or story points.
Features of a Burndown ChartThe best feature of burndown charts is to visualize how much time remains in a sprint until work is completed, and how time has been spent on its production. It also tells whether teams are on track to finish the project on time.
With sprint burndown chart tools, managers and team members can also:
● Schedule automatic chart creation (reviewing charts daily is recommended).
● Visualize quickly the progress and performance.
● Use the search function to recall previous data when planning future sprints.
● Keep a running total of work completed.
● Track progress over time, and immediately identify any changes to the project workflow.
● Keep track of the team's performance as well as adjust priorities if necessary based on what has been accomplished so far within the timeframe.
● Help teams meet deadlines and to still focus on the most important tasks without worrying about getting everything done.
● Have a visual representation of how much work is being done each day so that they are able to plan their time more efficiently.
What A Burndown Chart Can Tell
An ideal burndown should be like the one shown above where tasks are done gradually as time goes by. To read a burndown chart, the two lines—the blue ideal reference line and the red actual line meets at the end of the project, which means what has to be done is done, and the project goal is done.
You will see that burndown charts are easy to use, which make this tool helpful for any team member who is interested in having a better view of what needs to be done in order for the project to succeed. Take a look at some examples of different burndown charts below and the different stories they tell.
● A good team burndown
A good team burndown chart can give you a ton of insight into your project. You'll be able to spot trends in productivity, view progress over time, and understand what's going on before it becomes an issue that needs attention.
This burndown is a demonstration of work done by an experienced team. The team can complete tasks on time and reach the sprint goal. What is more, it can adapt to the backlog.
● A "too-late" team burndown
This burndown chart says that your team did not finish the task. During the entire sprint, the team was late and failed to adjust their work. It is obvious that user stories are waiting to be finished, and they should be further split and moved to the next sprint.
● A "too-early" team burndown
This burndown shows that the team finished the project faster than expected. Although the team might be able to do more user stories, they tend to not do so. User stories were overestimated so the team was able to finish all stories earlier than expected. This reveals that the team velocity was not estimated reasonably.
● A "go-up-to-sky" team burndown
The first sprint done by a team usually looks like this one. Besides tasks waiting to be finished, tasks are added to the sprint, or tasks are re-estimated and thus changed. A "go-up-to-sky" burndown chart can be problematic since it will cause your team members to have a false sense of security in thinking they are on-track when in reality they aren't.
● A team burndown chart with too many spikes
This type of burndown chart can be problematic, since it can cause your team to feel overwhelmed by completing so much work within a short amount of time. A burndown chart with too many spikes is also when your team feels like they are not able to keep up or continue what has been done successfully since their daily tasks might be causing them to feel overwhelmed. This will cause the motivation level of each member within your teams to decrease, which can lead into conflicts between different teams if deadlines aren't met successfully.
● A “too flat” burndown chart
A burndown chart that is too flat means the team might be losing momentum as they continue to do simple tasks instead of focusing on what needs to get done in order for them to meet deadlines. It also shows a lack of motivation and productivity among your team members, which can cause complications if you are trying to meet deadlines. This will also cause your team members to lose focus and become less motivated throughout the project since they might feel like there is not enough work for them to do in order to complete everything on time or that their daily tasks don't matter which can lead up into conflicts between different teams if everyone doesn't understand what needs be done.
Benefits of Burndown Charts
Having burndown project management charts provide some very useful benefits, including the ability to measure progress by showing what has been completed and how much remains. It can also help identify changes or trends within your project quickly for better organization of tasks and time management. You will see that burndown charts are easy to use as well as understand, which makes this tool helpful for any team member who is interested in having a better view of what needs to be done in order for the project to succeed.
To some extent, burndown charts help teams to constantly reevaluate their performance and prioritize work as necessary, which helps maintain the accuracy of the sprint and project backlogs, as well as the Scrum board. Besides, project managers save time by using a software to automatically run charts, rather than creating them manually.
What's more, team members also save time by tracking progress visually instead of sorting through emails, tasks, and documents for status updates. This enables project managers to plan more effectively especially when teams have to add or drop members by consulting chart data from previous sprints. Achieving a good experience in project management software is one of the benefits of burndown charts.
ZenTao: Burndown Project Management Solution
Burndown chart is a must-have feature in a project management tool for project managers to track the progress of a project. It is flexible to choose either hours or story points as the measurement of work in ZenTao.
ZenTao provides expert management solutions to businesses all around the world, including sprint management with the use of a burndown chart. Contact us to know more about how our products can help your business!
More readings on burndown charts