Agile Burn Down Chart – an executive dream tool

By · August 30, 2011 · Filed in Software Development for Executives

The lack of meaningful metrics is one aspect of software development that has always baffled me. This lack of metrics causes project issues to simmer without action.  The business dimension that suffers is “predictability” – or delivering functionality on time.

Recently, I was invited to attend a project ‘stand up’ meeting or Scrum meeting.  A ‘Scrum’ meeting lasts 15 minutes and discusses the project in terms of its current status and what is ‘blocking’ progress.   After the meeting the leader of development team updates the ‘Burn Down chart’.  A burn down chart shows outstanding work items on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal axis and usually runs left to right.  An ideal ‘burn down’ line is drawn from top left to bottom right corner.

For a more complete description of a Burn Down chart click here.

Here is an example of a burn down chart:

Burn Down Chart

Burn Down Chart







What a simple tool!

The graph was put on a large piece of chart paper which was taped in a hallway.  At a glance the team’s progress could be seen by everyone and anyone walking by. If the line was drifting to the right of the straight diagonal line the project was slipping behind.  If the line was left of the diagonal line the project was ahead of schedule.  In just under one second, meaningful data was communicated to the ‘whole team’ on the project’s progress.

If you are interested in discussing the burn down chart feel free to send an email ( ) or just give me a call 416.505.4756