Burndown chart: What is it and How to use it? 


A business organisation exists to achieve its goal. These goals need to be realised within the specified period fixed by the top management. It sometimes becomes difficult for tactical management to work within time limits. They will tend to cross the time limit if they don’t create and implement plans based on top management’s policies and strategies. 

A burn down chart is one technique to guide the managers about their team’s efficiency and time left for completing the project. The agile software development teams utilise this tool to balance the pending work and the remaining time to complete that work. A line chart is drawn between the two parameters, i.e., work to be completed and time left. The teams running scrum sprints are the ones who use the burn down chart. 

Sprint Burn down chart 

In a sprint Burn down chart, a collection of sprint backlog items are prioritised for a month or less to create a useful and developed product version. The scrum team works on these items during the sprint duration and impart the perfect product at the end of the sprint. So the sprint burn down chart reflects the rate at which the work is finished and work remaining to be completed. It is an essential element of a scrum. 

Scrum is an agile framework that enables the team to solve complex problems while maintaining efficiency and creativity at the highest level. The scrum utilises an iterative process.

The burn down chart scrum keeps track of the performance of activities necessary to achieve the best productive results.

Elements of burn down chart: 

The burn down chart is a graphical representation in the form of a line chart providing you with a quick analysis:

  • On the X-axis lies the sprint duration reflecting the number of days. 
  • On the Y-axis lies the activity remaining to be completed in sprint duration. 

The line chart represents two lines: 

  • One is the ideal progress line that indicates the rate at which the team should progress. The team manager should keep the sprint progress line close to this line to avoid any loss. 
  • The other one is the sprint progress line that reflects the actual progress and fluctuation in the team’s progress due to any update in the product and its estimates. This line will enable you to monitor the team’s performance and let you control if the work is out of track. 

How to use a burn down chart? 

The burn down chart agile is best suitable to simplify the complicated problems. As you read the burn down chart, you will observe several points on the line graph. Those points represent the movement of productivity by the team. 

You can use a burn down chart in two aspects: 

  • Place number of tasks on Y-axis: 

By placing the number of tasks remaining on the Y-axis left in the sprint on the given date, obtain information regarding the progress of the activity. This graph is simple to read and understand. If the tasks are completed as time progresses, the sprint progress line will start moving downwards. 

There is a  disadvantage in utilising this chart. The team tends to leave the complex activities for the end of the sprint as there is no estimated time allocation for each task. They may forget that not all tasks take equal time for completion, due to which it becomes challenging to complete all the tasks on time though they were working as per plan during most of the sprint duration. 

  • Plotting tasks as stories or estimate points on Y-axis: 

Story points are used where you want to estimate the complexity of tasks. This assists in completing the complex tasks within time.

Benefits of burn down chart: 

  • Use it as an update report for tasks by keeping an eye on the efficiency and quality of the product.
  • It encourages the team to work as per the plan as managers can track their team’s performance. It develops a sense of belongingness and involvement in the team. 
  • Early detection of vital deviation, finding the solution, and defeating those issues early is a significant advantage. 
  • It is a way of direct conversation with the team without giving long speeches. 
  • Use it for future reference to locate the velocity of the stories completed during the iteration process. 

Limitations of burn down chart: 

  • It provides minimal information about the story. 
  • It doesn’t reveal the changes in the work scope. 
  • No indication is provided of the product backlog items that have been completed by the burn down chart or burn up chart. 


There are many concerns with the burn down chart, such as the accuracy of the ideal progress line. This kind of chart is a measure to show the trends, but they don’t reflect the actual product backlog items. These issues can be resolved by incorporating an efficiency factor in the burn down chart. Therefore, for this reason, the recalculation of the efficiency factor takes place to get more accurate results. Get more in-depth knowledge of the product management capabilities through product management certification offered by Jigsaw Academy to create more career opportunities. 





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