Sprint Burndown Chart & Release Burndown Chart

We’ll take a look at both Sprint Burndown Charts and Release Burndown Charts and how they can be utilised in Scrum.

Burndown Charts allow Scrum teams and stakeholders to keep track of how much has been completed, how much needs to be completed and a forecast for when the project will end. In this article, we’ll take a look at both Sprint Burndown Charts and Release Burndown Charts and how they can be utilised in Scrum.

What is a Sprint Burndown Chart?

A Sprint Burndown Chart is a visual representation of the rate at which work is completed and what remains to be done. More specifically, it is represented as a graph that shows the remaining work for a period of time during the Sprint. The scale for the remaining work can either be in hours or number of one-day tasks.

Days within a Sprint are shown across the horizontal axis of the chart, while estimated remaining work is shown across the vertical axis. The chart slopes downward over the duration of the Sprint as tasks are completed.

Ideally, the ‘actual’ work line should follow the ‘ideal’ work line as closely as possible. This indicates that work is being fulfilled at such a rate that it can be completed on time by the end of the Sprint.

How is the Sprint Burndown Chart used?

The team uses the Sprint Burndown Chart to track the amount of work remaining in a Sprint backlog. They can assess how quickly the team is completing work and make a judgement on whether the Sprint Goal will be achievable at the current pace. 

The Sprint Burndown Chart is also a great tool to use in retrospect of a Sprint. The performance of previous Sprints will help to make informed decisions regarding workload and efficiency for the future.

Who is involved in the Sprint Burndown Chart?

The Developers in the Scrum team are responsible for preparing and updating the Sprint Burndown chart. They update it every day and are often supported by the Scrum Master in doing this. 

In case the Sprint Burndown Chart indicates that the Sprint Goal will not be met in time, it is the responsibility of the Developers to come up with an alternative plan for reaching the Sprint Goal in time. If this is impossible, the Developers must meet with the Product Owner to negotiate an achievable Sprint Goal.

The Sprint Burndown Chart is simply a part of the Developers navigating system, which helps them to reach their commitment for the Sprint. It is not a reporting tool and should not be used for such purpose either.

What is a Release Burndown Chart?

The Release Burndown Chart is a representation of the actual progress versus the planned progress in a measured format. It therefore, tracks the team’s progress and deliveries during the product release or development. 

The Release Burndown Chart is similar to the Sprint Burndown Chart, in that it displays the remaining work in the release over time. All Release Sprints are represented on the horizontal axis and the remaining work is shown on the vertical axis. The remaining work is normally measured in story points or number of backlog items. We recommend not to use hours for the remaining work in a Release Burndown Chart as there is much uncertainty over the full length of the project and use of hours will provide an artificial sense of precision.

Utilising the Release Burndown Chart can be beneficial in maintaining a smart and steady approach to delivering and achieving the product goal. It also helps in identifying any challenges and obstacles that can be resolved before having an overall impact.

Who is involved in the Release Burndown Chart?

The Product Owner is responsible for preparing and maintaining the Release Burndown Chart and update it by the end of each sprint by recording what the team of Developers have achieved during the sprint.

The Release Burndown Chart is used for forecasting the project and as such it is part or the reporting mechanisms of the project.

Summary

As we have touched on in this article Burndown Charts are an important tracking tool used by the Scrum team to deliver results in an efficient way. As such, it is essential for Scrum teams to understand and make use of Burndown charts.

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