Burndown Chart In Agile (With Types, Features And Benefits)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 13 October 2022

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A burndown chart is a data visualisation tool that Agile teams use to track the progress of a project in a sprint. It helps Agile project management teams outline the remaining work and the percentage of work completed in each iteration. Understanding how to use burndown charts can help you better estimate deadlines for Agile project developments. I n this article, we define what a burndown chart in Agile is, discuss its types and features, explain how to use this chart and provide information on its benefits and limitations.

What Is A Burndown Chart In Agile?

A burndown chart in Agile graphically represents the advancements of sprints by plotting the user stories against time. The burndown chart helps record the speed of the project while predicting the possible timeline for project completion. It is an effective management tool for scrum teams that show the quantity of work completed and ones remaining each day until the project ends. The chart gets displayed for everyone in the Agile management team and updated regularly for accurate visual data.

Related: What Is A Sprint In Agile? (Definition, Benefits And Example)

Types Of Burndown Charts In Agile

Here are the different types of burndown charts in Agile:

Sprint burndown chart

A sprint burndown chart graphically shows the rate or speed at which work progresses and how much work remains in an ongoing sprint. It measures the scrum team's progress towards a particular sprint goal and displays specific user stories based on the team's decisions during the sprint planning session. This chart shows days on the horizontal axis and project points on the vertical axis to estimate the effort required to implement the sprint.

Product burndown chart

The product burndown chart visualises the entire project's progress and indicates the number of project goals the team has achieved and the work remaining within a project. The chart can provide insight into the requirements completed in the product backlog over time. In the product burndown chart, the horizontal axis represents the sprint number, while the vertical axis depicts story points.

Related: What Is A Scaled Agile Framework? (Principles And Benefits)

Features Of Burndown Charts In Agile

Burndown charts typically illustrate the visual data in the form of graphs. The following features can help you analyse these graphs:


The axis in the burndown chart represents time and remaining work. The horizontal axis, or x-axis, shows the time counted from the day a project or sprint starts. The vertical axis, or y-axis, indicates story points, which are the number of days left to complete a task or sprint in the project. You may also show the development time as the number of sprints instead of days with a fixed sprint timeline. For example, a graph may display 14 days or two seven-day sprints.

Estimated work and time points

The burndown charts may have multiple points on the graph to indicate specific components of the project. One of them is the start point, which is the estimated number of tasks in the project. The other is the finish point, which shows the estimated time for the sprints to be complete. The start and finish points get calculated based on the number of team members, sprints and the efficiency factors in the team.

For instance, you have 30 days for the estimated tasks and three development members in the team who may work at 80% efficiency. You can calculate the finish point as (30 / 3) / 0.8 = 12.5, which means you can expect to complete the task in 12 or 13 days.

Estimated tasks remaining

The estimated remaining task is a straight line on the graph, beginning from the highest point or start point on the y-axis to the finish point or lowest point on the x-axis. This line is a mathematical average of the tasks that teams may complete each day to achieve the project goal on time. You can use this line as a guide to compare your progress and know whether you are ahead of schedule or falling behind deadlines.

Actual tasks remaining

This line on the burndown chart shows the actual work remaining at each point of time in the project. Your team might update this line frequently to compare their progress against the estimated tasks. If your actual tasks line is above the estimated tasks line, you are ahead of schedule. This line on the graph is an essential feature to measure project performance.

Related: 14 Popular Scrum Tools For Agile Project Management

How To Use Burndown Charts In Agile?

Here is how you can use burndown charts in the Agile framework to manage your projects:

1. Determine the project scope

Study the project scope and divide the project or sprint into short-term tasks. Review your tasks with the Agile team and estimate the time requirements of each task based on the project deadline. You can evaluate the effort and time for each iteration in the project to determine the project scope. For example, if you have three months to finish a project, you can divide the project into six sprints to track the progress on the chart.

2. Predict estimated time

Estimate the time requirements for your project. You can use your story points and project scope to predict the estimated time. For accuracy in plotting estimated time and tasks on the chart, you may refer to the previous project performance analysis of the team and consider their workload to calculate time requirements.

3. Plot the points on the chart

Start plotting your burndown chart. Mark your estimated time or the number of sprints on the horizontal axis and story points on the vertical axis. Draw the straight line for estimated tasks remaining from the highest point on the y-axis to the lowest point on the x-axis. You may also mark story points as estimated tasks or efforts and sprints as time requirements in hours or days. You can plot the points based on how your team works on projects.

4. Examine project progress

The scrum master may update and maintain the project progress at each point of time regularly. The burndown chart is visible to the team members and other stakeholders. Sometimes members might be responsible for updating the agile team's progress and examining the sprint development.

Related: Learn How To Become A Scrum Master (With Tips And Skills)

5. Analyse the burndown chart

It may be beneficial to analyse the burndown chart daily to know whether the project goals are progressing ahead of schedule or not. You can study the estimated remaining work line and actual remaining work line for the project analysis. Based on your study, you can make changes accordingly to achieve sprint goals on time.

Related: Agile Vs Scrum: What Is The Difference? (With FAQs)

Benefits Of Using Burndown Charts

Burndown chart is an essential tool for Agile teams and using them may provide the following benefits for your projects:

  • Gives insights into team productivity. Burndown charts are useful for comparing estimated work with actual work, helping to map the team's productivity. If your team is behind the actual schedule, you can analyse the chart, evaluate the reasons for the delay and enhance the team's efficiency.

  • Promotes effective collaboration. Most organisations use burndown charts for collaboration between project stakeholders. The chart ensures everyone gets regularly updated about the project progress and highlights comparisons of task progress that may assist Agile teams in examining potential sprint problems.

  • Encourages adaptability. The visual representation of the burndown chart is simple and adaptable and you can use it for scrum sprints, epics, Agile release planning and project iteration. It is adaptable with kanban or lean programming development operations and creates status reports for various project types in agile.

Related: Types Of Graphs And Charts

Limitations Of Agile Burndown Charts

Here are a few of limitations of burndown charts:

Lack of specific information

Burndown charts effectively compare the progress reports with estimated deadlines. They may not show which elements of a project or sprint get completed and what remains. For example, it displays the sprint data on the graph, but you may not be able to know which particular sprint goal is incomplete. You may require plotting different graphs for project iterations to track every change in the project.

Variance in data estimation

A burndown chart records results based on estimated data points. The estimated data may generate inaccurate results if there is variance or an error. You can reduce the risk of incorrect data by updating your estimated lines on the graph occasionally throughout your iteration timelines, depending on the status reports of the project progress.

Ineffective outlines

While burndown charts are effective for daily tracking of a sprint, they may not display the reason for the increase in the estimated or remaining work. The charts do not show the effect of deleting a task and might display removed tasks as completed tasks, which can affect the chart outline. You can reduce this limitation by showing data points for added or deleted work on the chart.

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