The Burndown chart is a tool used to map the hours of work left to complete over time. It is a useful visual aid in tracking the team’s progress and is also useful for predicting when all of the work will be completed.
Each Iteration contains a list of prioritized stories from the Product Backlog. Each backlog item (story) contains a set of tasks. These tasks are all given a value representing how many hours it will take to complete the task. During the Daily Scrum Meeting the team will alter the value on the task by reducing the amount of hours if the task is near completion, or raising the hours if more work is needed to complete the task.
Part of the Scrum Masters job is to maintain the Burndown Chart. I do this is by creating a spreadsheet that holds all of the stories within the iteration and the tasks held within the stories. After each Daily Scrum I update the number of hours left on each task in the spreadsheet and then plot the latest reading in a graph. This graph is called the Burndown Chart and is shown below.
The red line represents the total number of hours left in the iteration. The number of hours is mapped along the Y axis of the graph while the number of days in the iteration runs along the x axis. It is hoped that as the iteration progresses, then number of hours will decrease until it reaches 0.
The Burndown graph is a good tool for assessing the progress within an iteration. If the Burndown chart does not seem to be burning down at a steady rate, it is burning upwards or is even flat-lining, this may mean that your team may be encountering something that is impeding them from completing their work.
As you can see from my graph, I also map out each skill set within my group within the Burndown. This allows visibility throughout the team of how the iteration is progressing. This also means that as Scrum Master I can look out for any impediments that may be stopping the team from burning down effectively and try and resolve them.
Now that you know the basics and what a Burndown chart is and what it is used for, look out for my next articles where we will dig deeper into the Burndown Chart.