From traditional burn-down-charts to the sprint flow
- visualize the sprint progress and see on a daily base where we are in the sprint (and adjust sprint strategy if necessary)
- for the team including the product owner - used during the daily scrum
- for stakeholders and other interestest people passing by during the sprint
- input for the sprint retrospective to have a progress representation as input for inspect & adapt (what went well? what to improve?)
Requirements to make it useful are
- easy to maintain on the daily base
- highly visible and usable during the daily standup
- progress information easy to understand with less room for interpretation
Let's consider the different ways for displaying the sprint progress based on an example
Example overviewTeam X had a 2 week sprint and committed to implement 5 stories:
Starting with the hour-based burndown chart
|illustration 1 - hour based burndown chart for a a 2-week sprint|
Problems with this chart
- How many stories are finished? You can't answer this main question from the chart. It looks not that bad - but it could be that no story at all was finished...
- To draw the chart line daily - you need to count the hours burned and added daily. At least you need some way of doing this calculation on your scrum board (what I still favour over tools) - This counting is time consuming
- On the 15.11. all looked fine - sprint committment looked like achievable - but exploded at the end. At least from this chart it was not visible at all
- it delivers input for the retrospective (and can be enhanced with event bubbles - see below)
- maintainance efforts are higher compared to the other variants described below
- it's visible if you put it on a flipchart paper in your team area. But it's not that easy to embedd it in you daily scrum flow because you need to count the hours and you won't wait with the whole team for the counting. A meeting after the daily scrum to discuss the progress is from my opinion not really an option.
- it leaves a lot room for interpretation. You don't know really where you are in the sprint.
Followed by the story-based burndown chart
|illustration 2 - example of a story based burndown chart + event bubbles for a 2 week sprint|
Advantages compared to the hour based chart
- focus on the main deliverables - the stories. You know how many stories are finished and are left to be finished
- much faster to update - as finished stories lead to a burndown, otherwise the line remains straight.
- can be better integrated in the daily scrum - whole team can update it and can discuss actions necessary
- lesser room for interpretation
There are still some problems with this chart
- it's only useful if you more than 4 stories in your sprint and stories are not too big (what's anyway the recommendation, but we encountered sometimes problems with it ... then this chart is not that helpful)
- if you work on stories in parallel the line remains straight for some days and you can't see the progress. During these days the progress is not easy to understand and it opens room for interpretation.
- it delivers input for the retrospective and visualizes the sprint progress on the daily base (story based)
- it it easy to maintain
- you can embedd it in your daily standup (better)
- progress information for stories is available but leaves room for interpretation.
And now we use the sprint flow
|illustration 3 - example of a sprint flow for a 2 week sprint|
Advantages compared to the story burndown chart
- even easier to maintain
- includes public holidays and roles better
- shows work in parallel
- it's highly visible and provides input for the retrospective (as it shows the last state how you worked on it)
- it's easy to maintain and nice to integrate in the daily scrum
- progress is easy to see, there is still room for interpretation but less than in the previews ways
- it removes the "hidden" thinking about how to tackle the sprint and embedds it in the sprint planning meeting.
Can you help me?
- How is your experience using sprint progress visualizers?
- What do you use?
- Do you agree with the problems outlined above?
- How do you embedd using it in your daily standup?