Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.
Scrum, Sprint, Burnup, and Burndown Charts
If you are familiar with the complex product development model known as Scrum, you'll probably also remember the terms ''sprint'' and ''burnup/burndown.'' (If you want to refresh your knowledge with regard to these terms, you can visit the lesson entitled Burn Up Chart vs Burndown Chart in Scrum.)
Reviewing Scrum Terminology
Since Scrum terminology can be a little tricky, we've included a limited list of terms in the table below in case you need a quick review.
|Sprint||A 30-day block of work containing a collection of smaller tasks|
|Sprint goal||The end product of the sprint|
|Sprint backlog||The collection of smaller tasks that represent the work required (As per the development team)|
|Burnup chart||The backlog items that still need to be done|
|Burndown chart||The backlog items that are complete and no longer in the backlog|
|Product backlog||The sum of all the tasks (create, build, sustain, etc.) required by the product (As per the owner)|
The Function of Burnup and Burndown Charts
Burnup and burndown charts are one of the ways that a Scrum methodology uses to covey important information about work. (Specifically, tasks having to do with the current sprint.) Despite the complex-sounding terminology, burnup and burndown charts are basically variations of a simple line graph that show progress, trends, and modifications to the quantity of work.
Let's look at a scenario in which you'll have an opportunity to build your own burnup and burndown charts.
Standing-Up a New Electronic Medical Record System
For this scenario, imagine that you are working with a small team on a very narrowly-scoped but complex sprint. The larger project is to stand up an electronic medical record system (EMR) in a medium-sized hospital system, but your team is working specifically on interfaces. There are more than 16 applications of varying sizes and uses that must all be integrated with the new EMR, and your current sprint goal is to design, build, and implement an interface for one of these 16 applications. For maximum applicability, let's build both the burnup and burndown charts with the assumption that you are 15 days into your 30 day sprint.
- From this position in the sprint, will you be creating a burnup chart, a burndown chart, or both?
- How do you know this already despite the fact that your scenario has minimal information in it at this point?
If you answered that you'll be building both charts, you're right! You know this for a fact because we've noted that you're 15 days into a 30 day sprint. Since a burnup chart shows work remaining and a burndown chart shows work completed, the 15th day of the sprint will have 15 days of burndown and 15 days of burnup to document in your chart.
Raw Data for the Sprint
The table below contains raw, not-yet-organized information that you'll need in order to build your charts.
|Remaining Backlog Items||Pts||Completed Backlog Items||Pts|
|Phase 1 Testing||3||System diagrams||7|
|Technical documentation||5||Creation of build environment||11|
|Acceptance testing||9||Creation of test environment||11|
|Quality control testing||6||Integration analysis||7|
|Database optimization||3||Database creation||19|
|End-of-sprint tasks||1||Beginning of sprint tasks||1|
|Go-Live||11||Creation of production environment||11|
This table contains the estimated historical points for the burnup chart and the remaining person hours for the burndown.
Backlog Item Points: Time and Complexity
- What does the point value represent in the data table above?
- How is the point value relevant to burnup and burndown charts?
In its simplest form, points are a way to quantify complexity. The complexity can be technical in nature (like a difficult development task), but it can also represent risk, uncertainty, or the potential for unexpected variance. Basically, the higher the point value, the more attention and resources the backlog item may consume.
You'll need to know the sum of the sprint's points in order to build your charts accurately.
Plotting the Data
- What elements are plotted on the x-axis (horizontal) and the y-axis (vertical) of a burnup chart?
- What elements are plotted on the x-axis (horizontal) and the y-axis (vertical) of a burndown chart?
On a burnup chart, the x-axis represents time - usually in the form of sprint dates. The y-axis represents the complexity points assigned by the development team. In a burndown chart, the x-axis remains as sprint dates, but the y-axis represents an estimate of remaining hours required to complete the backlog. With that in mind, it's time for you to apply your knowledge.
- Take the raw data from the table above and build a burnup and a burndown chart. When you're done, compare it to the one below and determine if you captured and plotted everything correctly.
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