Project Management

A Better Burndown for More Accurate Sprint Planning

PMI Puget Sound Chapter
The Scrum method of Agile development is excellent. I have used it with my teams for more than 5 years now, and we deploy successful sprint after successful sprint, each and every month. One of the secrets of that success is that I have varied from the traditional burndown chart and sprint estimation suggestions that are taught when a person learns about Scrum. Fortunately, the original Scrum books state that Scrum is not "prescriptive" - meaning that it is not a hard and fast set of rules that are set in stone. We are suppose to modify and adapt it to work in our organization. If you have had issues with making accurate burndown charts that reliably tell you when your sprint will finish, then perhaps my suggestions can help.
 
The traditional definition of a Scrum team is that of a self-managed team that does not have set roles. The team is supposed to decide who will perform each task. That is a great concept, except that some people have developed careers as software developers and some are experienced at testing. Tasks may vary in the amount of development and testing required, and testing typically can't start until the development is complete.

Another issue with traditional Scrum is that teams are encouraged to estimate tasks using "Story Points" instead of hours. Story Points are an arbitrary unit of measure that a team can …

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