The Sprint Burndown Chart in the agile process is a graphical representation of the team's performance on how fast the team members can accomplish the customer's requirements. This uses an agile tool that identifies the completed task from an end-user's perspective. The burndown chart highlights the full effort necessary in the software development process delivered with an adequate amount of time and effort needed for every iteration.
The burndown chart is a basic metric used in the agile scrum. This plots when tracking the team’s progress by showing the completed tasks daily. This assists the scrum master to anticipate whether the team can meet its target tasks.
What data Burndown chart provides
Through the burndown chart, you can see the essential details in an agile scrum methodology.
Total estimated time
It is the sum of man-hours of all required efforts, issues, and tickets. In general, its the total number of tasks in man-hours where the software development team is committed to render in its offshore development’s scope of work.
Required effort or amount of remaining work
The remaining work is being shown in the burndown chart. This is where the graph’s name is derived. It means the ‘effort burndown chart.’ The team will burndown or spend some effort daily and on the final day of sprint or release, no more work effort is needed.
As the software development team is required to calculate and carefully commit working on assigned tasks daily, the total days of work commitment are plotted in the burndown graph. This shows the total working days in a sprint, which excludes holidays, weekends, and special events. This provides the duration of the sprint.
The ideal effort serves as the team’s guide. It is taken by estimating the remaining exact amount of effort, which the software development team should burn down. In the graph, this is the straight line above the y-axis to the x-axis, which shows the sprint’s final day.
Effort remaining line depends on the involved offshore development team and required daily tasks. It is based on how much effort is remaining, either added or deducted, daily. In case there are more items (e.g. user stories or issues) are entered from the time the sprint burndown chart in the agile process began, where this shows as an upward spike.
Understanding the burndown chart and scrum team
In any Sprint Burndown Chart in an agile process, the team initially prepares the tasks or user stories they assigned to accomplish. This is held through the selection process, where the team evaluates the priority software development methods to be completed. It is also when a work estimate is created when a task will be accomplished. After carefully assigning all the task estimations as finalized by the team manager, you get an overall picture of the amount of work to do, which is also known as effort remaining.
The effort remaining is further classified into the number of days needed in the sprint. The identified amount of work is the fixed number of man-hours which the team needs to work on every task. For every day rendered, the amount of work is reduced upon completing a task.
As plotted in the burndown chart, this amount of time rendered is seen on the y-axis. In general, the effort remaining is highlighted using story points. Story points are used as arbitrary metrics employed by scrum teams in measuring the necessary effort required. Simply, this identifies how a difficult task will be completed by the team. Meanwhile, in the x-axis on the burndown chart, every unit shows the unit of time in terms of weeks or months. In essence, the burndown chart provides an insight into how much task is being completed in a specific period.
Uses of the chart in Agile project management
For project managers, the burndown chart can be employed as an invaluable planning and tracking platform. It is very helpful for identifying when all the tasks will be concluded. As a result, it is a vital tool for creating the required work plan.
Managing scope of work. The burndown chart assists in scope management by providing an idea of the overall sprint overview. Those that are included in the task list is not part of the scope of the sprint.
Evaluating schedule. The chart is advantageous in schedule management by being updated daily with all the efforts delivered. This enabled the team to be constantly informed whether the schedule is right on track or not.
Minimizing risks. Also, the chart minimizes potential risks. Using the chart, it helps in providing daily feedback or issues instantly to the team. As a result, this enables the team members to act accordingly to act on issues or set things straight.
Used as a communication tool. The chart is a critical communication device for stakeholders and clients. With printed burndown charts, this can update the stakeholders about how the software development process is applied and the progression of daily scheduled activities.
Burndown chart sample
A burndown chart highlights the remaining work against time. The remaining or outstanding work is shown on the vertical y-axis while the time is seen in the horizontal x-axis.
The burndown chart is very helpful in forecasting when all the tasks at hand are completed on time. Outstanding work can be shown in either the time or story points.
Sprint Burndown Chart in agile scrum
Regarding the Sprint Burndown Chart, this is the same as the chart in the agile scrum. The only difference is that it shows the remaining work in the sprint.
Like the basic burndown chart, the y-axis highlights effort remaining through the story points. The difference is seen in the chart’s x-axis while measuring the time in the sprint’s time units. The unit duration is based on the length of the sprint. For instance, the sprint duration is four weeks. So the x-axis highlights the length of time (e.g. four weeks) on the graph. The graph is vital in keeping track of the team’s progress in any sprint.
Sprint chart in Agile
The Sprint Burndown Chart serves as a guide for project managers when reviewing the work progress by:
- Identifying how much work needs to be completed in the sprint remaining backlog.
- Determining how quickly the team members can complete their tasks.
- Creating a feasible forecast when the team is likely to achieve its goals.
Tracking agile development
After defining the tasks, scheduling the iterations, and developing features during the iteration that have been made into tasks and testing, the real work commences. The team can begin working with their tasks and establish the designated software product.
With all these factors, new questions may pop up like: ‘How the team is performing?’ and ‘Is the team going to make it?’ The iterative development nature needs to be addressed at two levels: (1) every iteration and (2) each release or the whole project itself if there is only a sole release.
Assessing the iteration process
Upon evaluation of the team's progress within an iteration, it is vital to identify a metric that reasonably shows the progress in the entire iteration. Completed features are one potential option to use. However, the feature completion rate can sometimes be heavily distorted toward the final iteration. So this could not be a good indicator when you are already half-way through to the project completion.
Undertaking acceptance tests provide a less slanted approach but the effort needed for evaluation tests may greatly vary. Certainly, this should not be the sole metric to use. Task progress shows the overall iteration progress and can potentially remain at a constant rate in the entire iteration. The burndown chart provides an overview of the entire task progress. It is considered the most widely used metric in the iteration progress.
Evaluating release development
Iterations work as the lifeblood of the development team. Meanwhile, releases serve as the business’ source of income. With these, the team's capacity to successfully release a product software to the market is crucial. While planning and executing at the iteration level is vital, software development teams should never lose track regarding the overall release plan.
To ensure iterations are successfully rendered in offshore development, some teams may hold back on their target progress as compared to release goals. The additional software development process may keep on creeping into the plans as the team moves forward. Once the team does not evaluate its progress about the overall goal, the situation may not be resolved until the final output is achieved.
Aside from the completed and remaining work, other considerations involve innovative and eliminated features and modifications in the estimates. With agile development seeks to embrace and benefit from a potential change, this analyzes, understands, and communicates the critical change in any situation, involving external sponsors and stakeholders.