What Is a Burndown Chart? Definition and Overview

Max 4min read
burndown chart

What is a Burndown Chart? 

Definition: The burndown chart shows the amount of work left on a project and the amount of time it will take to complete.

The burndown chart is a graphical depiction of how much work will be completed within the allotted time. 

You usually use it during sprints. It shows the status of both completed and unfinished work.

Burndown charts also provide your team’s estimated time to complete the work when it gets integrated with the velocity estimate. It also helps to pick out any scope creep because, in that case, the sprint will take longer to complete than expected. 

What are the advantages of Burndown Charts?

  • Burndown charts represent whether a sprint that finishes too early or too late. In such a scenario, revise the sprint planning
  • A sharp fall during the work progress indicates that the work is too complicated and needs to get broken down into smaller chunks. 

Burnup chart vs. Burndown chart:

If a product has a fixed scope, burndown charts are always a preferable alternative to keep things simple for the observer.

Nevertheless, suppose the scope of a product is constantly changing, and there is a need to show stakeholders progress at every step. In that case, a burnup chart is the way to go. 

Burnup charts allow you to see how far you’ve come while also allowing you to add more work along the way.

Burndown charts’ simplicity can sometimes work against them. Burndown charts are ineffective in displaying transparency regarding changes in product scope. These graphs conceal any data that indicates a difference in the chronology.

On the other hand, burnup charts are excellent for displaying transparency along the timeline regarding any changes in product scope.

Because burndown charts are simpler than burnup charts. They’re ideal for audiences that only care about Product progress (at any one time).

On the other hand, a burnup chart is an excellent tool, especially for audiences who want to learn more about how the product manager uses product management tools and product roadmap tools over time.

Burndown charts are appropriate for products with little to no changes in the total number of allocated jobs or features.

However, burnup charts are more appropriate when a product gets subjected to several features or task changes.

How to create a burndown chart in excel?

Set up a table:

We’ll establish the foundation for the work burndown chart with a table. It will include your primary time and task information.

Divide the tasks into two columns: the estimated number of pending works (your planned effort) and the actual tasks remaining on that day.

Create columns in excel as needed for your project.

Fill in the following information in the intended column:

We’ll add our values to the scheduled column, which represents the number of tasks you’d like to have left at the end of each day of the 10-day sprint.

Keep in mind that this is a perfect case.

Hence any figures you enter here don’t account for any real-world issues your team may face throughout the sprint.

Make a graph:

Excel will take over the rest of your process once you’ve gathered all of your hard-earned data in one spot.

Follow these steps to do so:

  • Choose the columns ‘Dates,’ ‘Planned,’ and ‘Actual.’
  • You can find ‘insert’ in the top menu bar.
  • Select the line chart icon.
  • Choose from a variety of simple line charts.

After you’ve created your graph, alter it by changing the values in the ‘Actual’ column.

How to read and interpret a burndown chart? 

A burndown chart usually shows:

The horizontal axis (X-axis):

The X-axis is the horizontal axis, showing how much time remains to finish the job. It gets displayed in days.

The vertical axis (Y-axis):

The Y-axis’s vertical axis depicts the leftover effort required to finish the project.

Line of work:

The actual work line represents the rest of the work. As issues develop and the time it takes to finish work increases. It is frequently different from the initial estimate. 

In certain circumstances, the real work line is straight. Yet, it is usually not due to project challenges and unexpected work.

Estimated work (ideal work remaining line):

The ideal work remaining line shows the workload you estimated in an ideal case. This is usually a more straight path than the actual work line.

Points to consider:

Agile teams usually use story points to estimate the remaining work. 

The story points get represented on these axes in a burndown chart. For example, The Y-axis may have story points ranging from 0 to 100 to reflect effort. 

The X-axis could have story points ranging from 1 to 30 to represent the number of days left to finish the assignment.

Sprint goal:

Finally, a good burndown chart will include the overall sprint target. For example, your sprint target may be a straight line of effort at 50% in 12 days. 

While your real job may not precisely reach this goal, it’s good to have a target in mind to keep tasks going.


Why is a Burndown Chart useful?

Burndown charts indicate if a sprint finishes too early or late. This situation constitutes a recommendation for revising the sprint planning.

The chart indicates that the work is too complicated when there is a sharp fall during the work progress. Thus, it needs to get broken down into smaller chunks.

Is burndown chart a scrum artifact?

Although a sprint burndown (or burnup) chart is not an official scrum artifact. Many teams use it during the sprint to discuss and track progress toward the sprint goal. 

Burndown charts depict the number of jobs completed during a sprint

What are the types of burndown charts?

A sprint burndown chart, which focuses on the iteration, and a product burndown char. It shows the remaining work for the entire project is accessible.

Crafting great product requires great tools. Try Chisel today, it's free forever.