Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #12

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #12

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Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #12 has been proudly brought to you by International Scrum Institute,

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What Is A Scrum Burndown? This Might Surprise You!

The “Scrum Burndown Chart” is a visual measurement tool that shows the completed work per Sprint against the projected rate of completion for the current project release.

Its purpose is to enable the Scrum Product Owner, the Scrum Team, and other stakeholders to control the progress of the project. So the Scrum Team achieves to deliver the requested software solution within the desired timeline.

Simple Scrum Burndown Chart

The speed/rate of progress of a Scrum Team is called “Velocity”. It expresses the total number of story points completed that the Scrum Team delivers per Sprint (Iteration). 

An essential rule to assess and calculate the Velocity is that; Only entirely completed user stories that precisely fulfill their Definition of Done (DoD) are counted. The velocity calculation shouldn’t take partially completed user stories into account. (For instance, coding of a user story is done, but its tests are still missing)

Only a few Sprints after a new Scrum Team is formed, the Velocity of the team can be reliably calculated. That helps the Scrum Product Owner to predict the throughput of the Scrum Team better, and he or she can foresee what user stories the Scrum Team can deliver in a given Sprint. That would enable the Scrum Product Owner to plan software releases more accurately, with less surprises towards business clients and end-users.

As a simple example: Let’s assume the Velocity of your Scrum Team is 50 story points per Sprint. And the total amount of remaining work has been estimated as 300 story points. Then you can predict that you need 6 Sprints to deliver all of the remaining user stories from the Product Backlog.

However, in reality, the user stories in the Scrum Product Backlog will change over the course of the project. New stories are added, and other stories are modified or even deleted.

In the Simple Burndown Chart, the Velocity of the Scrum Team and the change of the scope cannot be visualized accurately. To increase this lost accuracy and visibility, Scrum Teams use another type of diagram, which we call “Extended Burndown Chart”.

Extended Burndown Chart uses a bar chart instead of a line diagram. The size of each bar represents the total number of remaining user stories at the beginning of each sprint. The Velocity of the Scrum Team is subtracted from the top bar, while changes of the Product Backlog are presented at the bottom of the bar. 

Extended Burndown Chart Separating Velocity and Scope Changes

To get even more accurate results with the Burndown Chart, we can also take the rate of changes in total work into account. We call this more precise model “Extended Burndown Chart With Prediction”. However, we have to be careful when using this model. The magnitude of changes in the Product Backlog will be relatively higher at the beginning. And yet, the rate of changes will usually drop, and they approach zero towards the end of the project.

What Is A Scrum Burndown Report? This Might Surprise You!

The Sprint Burndown Chart (Sprint Burndown Report) visualizes the progress within the Sprint towards reaching the Sprint goal.

It enables transparency and actionable progress data about the actual performance (burndown rate) of the Scrum Team. That allows the Scrum Product Owner and the Scrum Team to easily monitor how the Sprint is going. Thanks to this overview delivered by the Sprint Burndown Chart, the team can predict if the Sprint goal can be accomplished until the end of the Sprint on time. 

Otherwise, the Scrum Master and the Scrum Team should consider and implement other measures to speed-up the execution of the remaining tasks and user stories in the Sprint Backlog. 

In the Sprint Burndown Chart, the initial Sprint Backlog defines the start-point for the remaining efforts. Every day the remaining effort which needs to be completed until the end of the Sprint is summed up, and it’s logged on this graph.

Sprint Burndown Report/Chart

It’s worthwhile to remember that; While a new Scrum team is forming, the performance is often not as good as how the ideal burndown rate envisioned it. That usually happens due to wrong estimates or unforeseen impediments that have to be removed to bring the Scrum Team on full speed.

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