What is the burndown chart and what types and limitations does it have?

What is the burndown chart and what types and limitations does it have? The Burndown chart shows you how much work has been done in a time period or sprint and the total work remaining. Burndown charts are used to predict the likelihood of your team completing work in the time available. In other words, the Burndown chart is a tool used by agile teams to collect information about the work done in a project and the work that needs to be done in a certain period of time. In this article, we are trying to examine this important tool and consider its types and limitations.

What is a Burndown Chart?

As we said, the Burndown chart is a measurement tool that shows the amount of work remaining along with its specific duration. The name “Burndown” comes from reducing the number of remaining tasks while making progress. “Burndown” creates a descending line with a slope that shows how much work is left before the deadline. In an ideal world, this would be a straight line. This means that no obstacles have been created during the development. Of course, this is not the case in reality.

What is a Burndown Chart
What is a Burndown Chart

The Burndown chart consists of a vertical Y-axis (work rate) and a horizontal X-axis (timetable). Typically, the slope starts at the top of the graph attached to the Y-axis and so-called “burns” until it hits the ground and it’s done.

Burndown chart types

Two types of burndown charts are available:

  • Sprint Burndown Chart: Focused on Iteration
  • Product Burndown Chart: This shows the remaining work for the entire project.

During a sprint planning session, all tasks are defined and placed on the vertical axis of the chart. Instead of tasks, you can also inject story points or work hours into this chart. Alternatively, if you’re using a product variable chart, the product backlog items are displayed on the Y-axis, and the number of sprints on the X-axis.

Why is it important to use a burndown chart?

A major reason for the use of highlight charts among agile teams is that they clearly show the speed at which work is progressing. Progress velocity refers to the team’s efforts in relation to User Stories or assigned tasks during the project iteration process. To calculate the team’s work speed, just divide the amount of work done by the number of days. Encourage team members to participate in scrum meetings to improve work speed.

How to read a burndown chart?

Step 1:

Look at the X-axis. Specify whether days, weeks, or months are shown on the X-axis.

Step 2:

Now, consider the Y-axis. Does it show any tasks? Story points? Or working hours?

Step 3:

Determine the ideal line. The ideal line is a projected slope that depicts how the team would fare in a perfect universe. This line serves as a guide for you.

Step 4:

Follow the real line. Based on the ideal line, by comparing it with the actual effort line, you can determine whether you are behind or ahead of schedule.

Here are some examples of burndown charts for your sprints:

burndown chart

The above image shows the performance chart of a well-organized team. The team is neither behind nor ahead of schedule. The team completes the final task on time. In this case, there is no need to adjust.

burndown chart

This is a fairly typical diagram for experienced agile teams. This chart shows that the team started out slow but eventually caught up. During the Retro session, the team must come up with a suitable solution for the late start so that this Burndown diagram resembles the first diagram.

burndown chart

This chart shows that the team is off to a slow start and has been falling behind schedule. However, this team was able to finish its work speed on time. During the Retro Scrum session, changes must be made to the team. Whether moving low-priority tasks to a future sprint or returning to a product backlog meeting.

burndown chart

In this diagram, it is clear that the team missed the deadline. In this case, the capacity of the next sprint should be “burned” or reduced, so the team can have time to complete tasks or story points related to the previous sprint.

burndown chart

In this diagram, the team may have overestimated the project timeline. The Scrum Master should help the team to resolve incorrect estimates.

burndown chart

This image can show that a diagram is quite difficult. Team commitment has either decreased or the Product Owner (PO) has delivered fewer stories than usual. The Scrum Master plays a vital role here, constantly monitoring the team’s commitment to the project and prompting the Product Owner to add more work to the Sprint Backlog if there are signs of slowness.

burndown chart

The team is working hard to meet the deadline, but at the end of the process, it is only at the bottom of the chart that it is in trouble. Maybe the product owner added the amount of work equal to the completed work; Therefore, the line remains constant.

What is the average burndown rate?

The average burndown rate, also known as the ideal line, guides the team throughout project development. It starts at the top of the Y-axis and ends at the far right of the X-axis. It is worth noting that not all tasks may be known at the start of the sprint. The backlog schedule may change, which will also reflect the individual chart. However, the team should focus more on how well they delivered than on what they did. There are scenarios where teams are just spinning their wheels


Burndown charts are one of the best ways to track your team’s progress and make workflow adjustments as needed. You can also use burnup charts if your business is prone to downward creep. Burnup charts keep your customers on task.

Check Also:

Key points you should know about action plan and how to write it

Application of artificial intelligence (AI) in project management

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button