What Is A Burndown Chart & How To Create One

A burndown chart template is an agile project management tool that helps Scrum teams track the amount of work remaining to complete a project within a given time.
Tracking a project’s progress and ensuring all team members play their part in completing said project on time is one of your primary responsibilities as a project manager. However, it’s not always easy to keep track of everything.

If you’re wondering how to stay on top of all your projects, then you need a burndown chart.
A burndown chart is a simple data visualization tool you can use with your existing agile framework to ensure all their projects go according to plan.

What is a burndown chart?

A burndown chart is a simple graph that shows how quickly your project team is working by plotting customers’ user stories against the time it takes for each iteration (or to complete each user story point).

Aside from measuring your team’s pace (or velocity), you can also use a burndown chart to predict your team’s performance on specific projects and ensure all your projects are within budget.

Burndown charts are especially common with Scrum Masters, agile teams, and product owners who handle agile software development projects.

Types of burndown charts

There are two different types of burndown charts used on agile projects: sprint and product burndown charts.
While these charts can both be used to monitor scope creep, they have specific purposes they fulfill.

Sprint burndown chart

A sprint burndown chart tracks the total work remaining in a specific sprint or iteration (usually under three weeks). The sprint burndown chart helps software development teams identify “micro” issues that can cause delays in bigger projects.

Product burndown chart

On the other hand, a product burndown chart helps teams estimate how much work remains for an entire project.

How to read a burndown chart: understanding its components

Like most graphs, a burndown chart has a basic layout with a horizontal and vertical axis. Once plotted, the graph shows how much work is left and the time to complete said work.
Created with Highcharts 9.3.1DateActual # Tasks RemainingIdeal # Tasks Remaining16. Oct18. Oct20. Oct22. Oct24. Oct26. Oct28. Oct30. Oct1. Nov3. Nov05101520

Horizontal axis: Iterations & timeline

The horizontal or X-axis of a burndown chart displays the iteration timeline (usually in days) for a project or sprint.

Vertical axis: story points & team effort

The vertical Y-axis of a burndown chart represents the story points and team efforts. This axis indicates the remaining work that needs to be completed in a sprint or project.

Project/sprint end

The project/sprint end is the rightmost point of your burndown chart that indicates whether you completed a project/sprint on time, behind, or ahead of schedule.

Ideal work line

An ideal work line is a straight line that connects your graph’s starting point to its project/sprint end (in the chart above it’s represented by the
Ideal # Tasks Remaining
line). This line shows how much time it would take your team to complete a project depending on your team’s recent performances, meaning it’s not always accurate or absolute.

Most burndown charts use a color different from those of other elements on the graph to help you quickly identify the ideal work line.

Actual work line

The actual work line shows the real-life progress you and your team accomplish on a project.

Unlike the ideal work line, the actual work line does not follow a straight path, even though they both start from the same point. Instead, the actual work line can either go above or below the ideal line, depending on how efficient your team is.

If the actual work line is below the ideal line, it means you’re ahead of schedule. But if the actual work line is above the ideal line, then you’re running behind schedule.

Why a burndown chart is so beneficial for Agile project management

Managers who use burndown charts for their agile projects can expect to enjoy the following benefits:

Real-time overview of the entire project

A real-time overview of the entire project is one of the most significant benefits that burndown charts provide.
With this chart, you can quickly tell whether you can complete a project on time and within budget. A real-time project overview also keeps everyone on the same page and can serve as extra motivation.

Insight into actual & estimated team speed

The actual and ideal work lines plotted on the burndown chart help managers quickly identify their team’s speed when completing sprints and the project as a whole.

Effective client & stakeholder communication

The simple visual nature of the burndown chart makes it easy to collaborate with clients and stakeholders concerning a project’s progress.

Accurate status report

Since burndown charts are easy to read, your team members can quickly get accurate status reports with a single glance at the graph.

Quick reaction to scope creep

Burn down charts can help you manage and quickly react to any scope creep before it gets out of hand.

👉 Get started with this burndown chart template.
Copy this template

After you copy this template, you can utilize this free burndown chart template for your agile and scrum projects. This way you can better visualize how to scope your project sprints and organize your team and resources.

Create a Burn Down Chart with this Coda template

Step 1: Define Project Sprints and Tasks

On the
page, you can add your Project Sprints and Tasks for each sprint by clicking the
Add Sprint
Add Task
buttons, respectively. This will create a new row in the
table that you can plan for.

table will show tasks for a filtered
and the
Date Range
for the tasks, ideally it would be best to view tasks for the present week (7 days) to keep track of the team.

Step 2: Scoping Workload and Estimated Complete Dates

Ideal # Tasks Remaining
is the estimated amount of tasks that are yet to be completed in a Sprint at the end of each day in a Sprint (the default amount is 15 tasks for 15 days of a sprint). The ideal # tasks remaining is the set goal of tasks that you plan for your team to complete within a given time frame. Ideally, one task should be completed per day, which is shown in the

By adding a task to a sprint, you can add
, the
is to be completed, the person it is
Assigned To
, and its
. As tasks are marked as
, they are highlighted in
and the sprint is closer to being completed.

Step 3: Visualizing Burn Down Chart

On the
page, you’ll be able to see a chart of the
Ideal Work Line
Work Line
in the current sprint that you are looking at in the
This will allow you to visualize the traction you have made on your current sprint, and how much work is left to finish before the sprint ends. The closer the Actual Number of Tasks Remaining is to the Ideal Number of Tasks Remaining, the more efficient each Sprint is.

Extra Steps: People & Teams

In the
page you can manage people in your organization, their contact information, and which teams they are a part of.

Burndown chart FAQs

What are the benefits of using a burndown chart?

What are the limitations of a burndown chart?

How is the burndown chart calculated?

What are burnup and burndown charts in Agile?

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