Tracking Burn-down Progress

From the Voices on Project Management Blog
by , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

About this Blog

RSS

View Posts By:

Cameron McGaughy
Marian Haus
Lynda Bourne
Lung-Hung Chou
Bernadine Douglas
Kevin Korterud
Conrado Morlan
Peter Tarhanidis
Vivek Prakash
Christian Bisson
Cyndee Miller
David Wakeman
Jen Skrabak
Mario Trentim
Shobhna Raghupathy
Rex Holmlin
Roberto Toledo
Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina
Wanda Curlee
Joanna Newman
Linda Agyapong
Jess Tayel
Ramiro Rodrigues

Past Contributers:

Jorge Valdés Garciatorres
Hajar Hamid
Dan Goldfischer
Saira Karim
Jim De Piante
sanjay saini
Judy Umlas
Abdiel Ledesma
Michael Hatfield
Deanna Landers
Alfonso Bucero
Kelley Hunsberger
William Krebs
Peter Taylor
Rebecca Braglio
Geoff Mattie
Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL

Recent Posts

Do You Know The 3 Drivers Of Project Success?

It’s Time for a Long, Hard Look at Processes

Trust: The Secret Ingredient to Project Success

The Traps of Textbook Scrum

Assessing Risk in the Real World


Categories: Agile, Tools


Agile teams often rely on burn-down charts to show how much work remains in each two-week sprint. The starting point represents the total work to be done and ends at zero when it's finished. There's no detailed plan of how much work is done each day -- teams just draw a line from start to finish.
 
But two problems can arise:

1. Teams get used to collecting data, but forget to interpret and take action on it.
 
2. Executives may look at the graph and become concerned if the actual numbers don't track precisely to the projected line.

So how do you know when to be concerned versus when the numbers are varying normally? An average of 20 percent variance is a good rule of thumb. Anything less is a false alarm. Anything more demands attention.

Here are some models I've created of possible scenarios, but in reality, progress is more of a wandering curve. The vertical axis shows how many hours are left and the horizontal axis shows how many days are left. The straight blue line represents the planned amount of work left each day in hours, while the red line shows the actual hours left.

Case 1: Under the line
The team consistently finished more work than expected. Does this represent an error in estimation or natural variance in the system?

Case1.jpg

 
Case 2: Above the line -- but okay
The team is running behind, but is close enough that it will still complete the work for the iteration.
Case2.jpg


Case 3: Above the line -- in trouble
The team is so far behind, it must stop and take action to address the problems or re-plan the work. This progress line is a powerful warning signal.

Case3.jpg


How do you use burn-down charts?
Posted by William Krebs on: April 05, 2011 10:52 AM | Permalink

Comments (0)

Please login or join to subscribe to this item


Please Login/Register to leave a comment.

ADVERTISEMENTS

"Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits."

- Mark Twain

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsors

Vendor Events

See all Vendor Events