What is a Burndown Chart?

A burndown chart is a simple way to display progress on your project. It displays remaining work as a line that slowly decreases toward zero.However, this type of chart can hide information such as the effects of scope change. A burn up chart offers more flexibility for projects that require frequent adjustments to the timeline.


Remaining Work on the X-Axis


The X-axis on a burndown chart displays the amount of time it takes to complete an iteration, typically in days, weeks, or months. The leftmost point on the axis represents day zero, the starting point of your project or sprint. The rightmost point is your project’s endpoint, which marks the point where all remaining work is completed. This is where your ideal work line, also referred to as your burndown curve, will be located. The ideal line showcases the projected progress of your team under ideal conditions, such as if all tasks are completed according to their initial projections and no issues occur.


It’s normal to see a dip in the actual work line once it’s plotted on your burndown chart, as most teams experience some deviations during the course of a project. However, large gaps in the actual work line may be an indicator of unforeseen delays and can suggest that your project is not on track to meet its original deadline.


Remaining Work on the Y-Axis


The X-axis represents the amount of time left to complete a project or sprint. This axis is usually represented in days, hours or whatever units of time your team prefers to use. The Y-axis represents the work that remains to be completed, which is typically shown in story points. Agile teams tend to use story points as a method of estimating remaining work. The ideal work remaining line plots a straight diagonal slope reaching down to zero when the project is finished on schedule. The actual work remaining line updates in real-time and tends to resemble a flatline or may hover above the ideal work remaining line as the team makes progress.


When a sprint or release is behind schedule, the actual work remaining line gets below the ideal work remaining line to indicate that the team has lost momentum and is struggling to meet its target date. On the other hand, if a sprint finishes ahead of schedule, it will get above the ideal work remaining line to show that the team has surpassed its estimate.


Remaining Time on the X-Axis


When it comes to project management, a burndown chart is a key tool for tracking progress and forecasting a completion date. It shows a comparison between the estimated number of hours or story points that remain to complete a project and the actual work completed in each iteration. It can also reveal any issues with scheduling, such as a rework or other delays.


A typical burndown chart consists of an x-axis that displays time (either days, weeks, or months depending on the team’s sprint cadence) and a y-axis that represents the remaining amount of work to be done in the sprint or project. The trend lines – the ideal and the actual work remaining – represent progress made by the team during an iteration. The actual line tracks the team’s current pace, and the ideal line is based on estimates of how fast the team should be working under perfect conditions.


The goal is for the actual line to meet or exceed the ideal line at the end of the iteration. If it does not, the project may be behind schedule and should be remedied. This is why it is important to regularly monitor and update the chart using a project management software.


Remaining Time on the Y-Axis


A burndown chart is a great way to keep track of work that remains in your sprint or project. It compares actual progress with planned progress, and allows you to see how your team is on track or off track. It’s an important tool for agile teams that are working on iterations.


A basic burndown chart consists of an x-axis representing the timeline of your project or sprint, and a y-axis showing the remaining work in terms of time or story points. The trend lines on the chart are based on your original estimates for each task, and the ideal pace at which you should complete work to finish on time. The actual line will look different than the ideal line, because your team may complete tasks faster or slower than you expected.


The key to a successful burndown is to update the y-axis each day as your team completes tasks. This helps you track the total amount of effort left and predict when the task will be completed. Ideally, the actual line will be below the ideal line. This indicates that your team is ahead of schedule.


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In this scenario, a burnup chart might be a better option for your team. This methodology keeps track of the remaining work by subtracting user stories from the vertical axis as they are completed. The X-axis on the burnup chart shows your sprint timeline, while the Y-axis displays your backlog’s estimation statistic (as defined in your board’s saved filter). This gives you an accurate overview of your sprint progress, allowing you to quickly detect whether you are falling behind or ahead.


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