An Agile project is exciting by its very nature: you’re jumping into the development process with both feet, working toward milestones during quick sprints, constantly watching your project evolve. You’re seeing shippable results within days or weeks rather than months or years.
Of course, that doesn’t mean planning takes a back seat, or that no one’s paying attention to production rates. In fact, without a solid strategy on which to build the project’s sprint schedule, there’s no way an Agile project can effectively reach its goals. The constant improvement and iteration required could keep a project going indefinitely if a set plan doesn’t provide concrete goals and timeframes for success.
And that’s where the burn-up chart comes in.
If you’re not familiar with the Agile burn-up chart or how to create one, there are several resources available online that offer a detailed overview of this powerful and dynamic planning tool. Some of our favorites are Kirsten Minshall’s in-depth “Why I Use Burn Up Charts for Planning”
We also provide a free Excel template for you to create your own Burn Up Chart, or Cumulative Flow Diagram.
The Burn Up Chart Vs. the Burn Down Chart
Using a burn up chart as opposed to a burn down chart is largely a matter of preference and the value of each depends to some extent on the complexity of your individual project.
While both planning tools accomplish the same basic purpose – indicating how much work is left to do and approximately how soon it will be accomplished – the burn down chart displays this information in a more simplistic fashion as a line graph that drifts down toward a point at which there is no more work to do.
The burn up chart, on the other hand, displays both the cumulative scope of the entire project and the cumulative amount of work being completed over the course of the project’s time line. As these two lines converge, the project approaches completion.
The benefit to a burn up chart, especially for more complex projects, is its ability to visually track any changes in the scope of a project along with changes in the productivity of the team. This can help Scrum Masters offer more accurate assessments a team’s effectiveness and analyze the extent that scope creep or ongoing changes to the project are impacting on their productivity.
The Value of Integration in Agile Software Tools
If your company or development team works exclusively or largely using Agile methodologies, you’re probably already considering a software tool to help with planning and documentation.
One of the finest we’ve come across is the Atlassian suite of Agile development tools , which is why we’ve joined forces with Atlassian as an Expert Partner for development and consultation.
A recent add-on to the Atlassian suite that we’re proud to offer for free to any clients running the Atlassian JIRA tool is the fully-functioning Burn Up Chart plugin.
This plugin offers fast, visible project tracking using a simple and intuitive interface that allows a Scrum Master to quickly update scope, story points, and cumulative production for an up-to-the-moment view of the project’s status and estimated completion date.
Based on user-generated factors, the plugin also maintains a visual “danger zone” with built in warnings to help identify when production is trending toward unsuccessful completion.
Due to its ease-of-use and powerful reporting capability, we strongly recommend taking advantage of the new Burn Up Chart plugin along with all the Atlassian Agile tools.