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 10 plus 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?

Ideal team

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

  • They are doing a great job.
  • Not over-committing work.
  • Tasks were not completed late.
  • Task were not completed too early.
  • The team is on-time.
  • Masters of the discipline, they update the progress regularly which gives everybody a huge transparency.

What to improve?

Just continue!

Burn Down chart

Great team

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

  • A team is committed to a goal.
  • They adapt the scope in case of need (as visible in the midst of the sprint).
  • Team improves the speed to get things done.
  • Team asks and reflects “How are we going to complete the sprint?”

What to improve?

Grab additional stories from the next sprint that your team is able to finish in the sprint.

Burn Down chart

Nice team

This is typical burn down chart you can see in many agile team. Be aware that it doesn’t mean low quality of agile. If they still delivers the most valuable backlog items according to priority, they are still great. Anything uncompleted can be completed in the first few days of the next sprint. Especially, if the team is able to deploy finished backlog items anytime, there is no problem at all here. You will just get results couple fo days later. Not so bad comparing to the waterfall, isn’t?

  • The team is committed to the sprint goal.
  • The scope is partially adapted when needed.
  • The team improves the velocity to get things done.
  • Team reflects and asks “How are we going to complete the sprint?”

What to improve?

Stop in the middle of the sprint and discuss how to get back on track.  Something with lower priority should go out of your current sprint backlog, or the Product Owner can simplify requirements, or alternatively, the work can be done in simpler way.

Burn Down chart

Let’s take a rest, team!

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

  • The team has finished work earlier than expected but could finish more.
  • Maybe there are not enough items in the sprint backlog. Is anything prepared for the development in the product backlog? Not? Hey Product Owner, wake up. It is time to provide a food to your team!
  • Is the team larger than it was expected at the beginning of the sprint?
  • Stories might be overestimated. Update your estimation to have more precise numbers for your statistics. That helps improve your estimation in upcoming sprints later on.

What to improve?

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

Burn Down chart

Oh, the management is coming!

Hey, team, you are not doing what is necessary! Where are you going? 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 classes.
  • 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.

Burn Down chart

Do your duties, dudes!

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 the training. Do retrospective to figure out why is this happening.

Burn Down chart

Zero effort!

The 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.

Burn Down chart

Up to the sky!

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

  • Stories/tasks are added into the spring backlog continuosly.
  • 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 the way of working first.

What to improve?

Estimate stories/tasks immediately and update your backlog. Do not forget to start the sprint if you use the electronic tool.

Burn Down chart

Boom. It is too late!

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

  • 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 ends. Remove low priority stories from the sprint.

Burn Down chart

Boom. Too early!

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

  • Stories were under estimated.
  • 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

Burn Down chart

There is a bump on the road!

Burn up first, then burn down.

  • Stories were 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 the planning session.

Burn Down chart