ScrumDesk analyzes agile practices applied by teams and helps ScrumMasters to identify gaps quickly. These tips and findings of BurnDown charts are based on our seven years of agile coaching. Check additional metrics that ScrumDesk helps to track.

Burn Down chart is a primary scrum metric used to track implementation progress of the agile project.

How to draw burndown chart?

The burndown (burn down) chart is simple:

  • X axis for days of the sprint
  • Y axis for effort (story points or hours or days depending on what you prefer)
  • Ideal line that visualizes expected progress
  • Real line visualizing the current progress

Easy to explain, easy to be updated daily, easy to be analyzed.  But do your team members really understand it? Are they able to read it?

Real life examples

Burn Down chart

Ideal team

Once you see such burn down chart congratulate to the team.

  • They are doing a great job.
  • Not over-committing
  • Not  late
  • Not earlier
  • On time
  • Mastership

What to improve?

Just continue!

Great team

This is typical burn down chart you can see in many already experienced team.

  • A team committed to a goal
  • Adapted scope in case of need
  • Team improving speed to get things done
  • Team is asking How we are going to complete the sprint

What to improve?

Grab additional stories from the next sprint you are able to complete in the sprint.

Nice team

This is typical burn down chart you can see in many already experienced team.

  • Team committed to goal
  • Adapted scope in case of need
  • Team improving speed to get things done
  • Team is asking How we are going to complete the sprint
  • At the end, they can grab additional stories from the next sprint

What to improve?

Stop before the middle of the sprint and discuss how to get back on track.

Something with lower priority should go out of your sprint backlog.

Let’s have a rest, team

This burn down chart indicates your team is fine to have time to rest.

  • The team has finished work earlier than expected but could do more.
  • Maybe there are not enough items in sprint backlog
  • Maybe team is larger than expected at the beginning
  • Stories might be overestimated

What to improve?

Get additional stories as soon as possible from the next sprint according to priorities.

Oh, management is coming!

Hey, team, you are not doing what is necessary! Where are you going to? How do you know whether you are able to finish the sprint on time?

  • Maybe the team is doing a work, but there is someone adding an amount equal to completed work.
  • The team doesn’t update remaining time regularly.
  • Send Scrum Master and team back to training
  • Maybe stories were overestimated.
  • Product owner doesn’t take care as well.

What to improve?

Stop the line after seeing line of 3 days in a row. Initiate retrospective immediately.

Do your duties

Hey, team, this is even worse. Maybe you completed something but completed work is not visible as a progress!

  • See Oh, management is coming! chart
  • Sprint might be still in progress

What to improve?

Restart. From scratch, from training. Do retrospective to figure out why this is happening.

Zero effort

Chart indicates:

  • Stories/tasks were not estimated in the sprint planning meeting
  • No story or task in the backlog

What to improve?

Estimate stories/tasks immediately and update your backlog.

Do not forget to start sprint if you use the electronic tool like ScrumDesk.

Up to the sky

The first sprint in your life? Seems like yes. In this case, it is acceptable :).

  • Stories/tasks are added into backlog constantly.
  • More work is added than completed.
  • Tasks are re-estimated constantly.
  • you will never be able to complete the sprint if you will not fix it.

What to improve?

Estimate stories/tasks immediately and update your backlog.

Do not forget to start sprint if you use the electronic tool.

Boom. Too late.

This burn down chart says: “You did not complete your commitment”. And you were all the time late.

  • Tasks not completed
  • Adaptation not done during the sprint

What to improve?

Check if the size of the sprint backlog is not growing. Stop the production line as soon as possible, before the sprint. Remove low priority stories from the sprint.

Boom. Too early.

This burn down chart says: “You completed your commitment earlier than expected”. What to do now?

  • Stories underestimated
  • Low commitment of the team
  • Incorrect sprint capacity calculation
  • Stories not grabbed from the next sprint
  • Some team members do not have tasks assigned.

What to improve?

After two or three days Scrum Master should ask if there is anything team can do from the next sprint. If yes then assign

Bump on the road

Burn up first, then burn down.

  • Stories not estimated at the beginning of sprint
  • Stories added till mid of the sprint.
  • Appropriate recognition of the incorrect situation in the mid of the sprint. Positive, but late.
  • Lost guidance how to get to zero.

What to improve?

Restart your sprint by planning.