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What is a Burndown Chart?

Joydip Kanjilal
Published: January 12, 2023

project Management tutorials

A burndown chart provides project managers and developers a quick and easy way to visualize the progress of any software project over time, showing the workflow and how much work remains to be done. In this project management tutorial, we will go through what a burndown chart is, and why it is useful in your projects.

Read: Best Kanban Tools for Developers

Overview of a Burndown Chart

A burndown chart is a type of project management tool used to identify and track a project’s progress. A burndown chart typically displays the amount of work remaining to complete a project on the y-axis, while the x-axis typically represents the time remaining.

A burndown chart can help project managers and developers estimate the amount of work left to do and predict when it will be finished. Burndown charts show the total amount of work needed to complete the project and any pertinent deadlines. It is imperative that stakeholders have access to this information in order to fully comprehend the present status and progress of a project.

In essence, burndown charts can be a valuable tool in helping teams manage complex projects, identify potential problems early on, and track progress more accurately. They can be used for both technical and non-technical projects, but they are particularly useful for software development projects.

What are the Types of Burndown Charts?

There are a few distinct variations of the burndown chart:

  • Sprint burndown: A sprint burndown is used to determine how much work is left in the current iteration.
  • Product burndown: A product burndown depicts the amount of work that has to be done for the whole project.
  • Epic Burndown: Epic burndowns provide a detailed view of the progress made on projects that might span multiple releases.

What are the Components of a Burndown Chart?

There are some key components of a burndown chart, as highlighted below:

  • The vertical axis (Y-axis): The Y-axis of the graph will indicate how much work remains for the project as of the present time. In order to monitor a project and determine its progress, various measures are typically adopted.
  • The X-axis (horizontal axis): The X-axis is often used to monitor the amount of time remaining until the project’s deadline.
  • Ideal Work Remaining: This is represented by a diagonal line with a slope that decreases over time. As the team updates the chart with real work remaining progress, the comparison with ideal work remaining helps the team to decide if they are on track to finish or need to course correct.
  • Actual Work Remaining: This is the quantity of work that remains to be completed at any given moment in a project or sprint. As the project moves on, this is updated in real-time. Maintaining track of this is critical, so you know whether you’re on schedule to finish the project on time.

What are the Benefits of Burndown Charts?

A burndown chart provides several benefits for developers and project managers of software development teams:

Burndown Charts Help Track Progress

A burndown chart helps stakeholders track a project’s progress visually and easily. Burndown charts offer an easy way for teams to track progress and ensure they meet their deadline. Additionally, it allows team members to identify areas where progress has slowed or stalled so that they can adjust their approach and get back on track.

The burndown chart can also indicate how quickly tasks are being completed and helps to maintain visibility on the progress of any given project. Additionally, it is used to measure progress toward milestones and predict future tasks needed to complete the software project.

Burndown Charts Provide Insights on the Progress of a Project

Burndown charts provide visual representations of the amount of work completed and remaining as well as forecasting the completion date based on the progress made thus far.

A burndown chart helps developers and project managers to determine if you are on track to meet your deadline or whether there are any unexpected delays in completing tasks. It also helps teams understand where they are falling behind or ahead of schedule and make necessary adjustments accordingly.

Burndown Charts Help Project Planning

Regular use of a burndown chart can help software development teams plan and manage their workloads more effectively, leading to better project outcomes over time. Additionally, it is an essential tool for project planning and project management.

A burndown chart visually represents the progress of a project, empowering teams to understand better and complete their tasks efficiently and effectively.

You can learn about other project management tools in our tutorial: Guide to Project Management Software for Developers.

What are the Disadvantages of Burndown Charts?

Despite the benefits of burndown charts, there are certain downsides of burndown charts as well. First, they can be complex to create and interpret, especially if you are new to project management. Second, they only provide a snapshot of progress at a specific point in time, so they may not give you the full picture of what is happening on a project. Finally, because they rely on estimation, burndown charts can be inaccurate if estimates are not well-informed or realistic.

Burndown Chart vs. Burnup Chart

A burndown chart plots the time left against the total work remaining in a visual format. Project managers may use burndown charts to monitor the team’s progress and keep the project on track. On the other side, a burnup chart plots output versus time spent, visually representing the amount of work completed against the time spent in achieving it.

Final Thoughts on Burndown Charts

Burndown charts are a very powerful project management tool for tracking progress and helping teams stay on track. They can be used in almost any industry, and are typically used in Agile software development to track progress toward a goal; however you can use them for any project where there is a need to track and visualize progress over time.

Burndown charts help you stay focused and organized, better understand the project’s progress, and facilitate easier decision-making. By using burndown charts, project managers can ensure that they stay on track and that their projects are completed on time with successful results.