How does the Burndown Chart help us to meet Sprint Goals?

From my perspective, the beauty of Scrum framework is running Sprints for a short period of time (typically 2-3 weeks) and at the end of it being able to judge the team’s overall performance  objectively.  Setting a goal for a few weeks timeframe and going for it enables the team to get disciplined and stay focused. Historically, we had 6-9 months long projects with potential delays. This leads the teams easily jump into the comfort zone and adapt a relaxed and ‚take it easy‘ type of attitude due to the long time for the project completion. Generally speaking, the human nature has a tendency to delay most of the work to be done towards the deadline. ( Remember your university finales :)) Therefore, setting digestible, S.M.A.R.T Sprint goals developing iteratively and incrementaly is an effective way to accomplish significant achievements within a certain timeframe.

Well, how does the team monitor if bringing the Sprint Goal to DONE status is something already secured or it is at risk ? Even though, it’s not mentioned in the Scrum guide at all, best practices propose „Burndown Chart“ for that purpose.  As the Scrum Institute put it precisely:

The Scrum Burndown Chart is a visual measurement tool that shows the completed work per day against the projected rate of completion for the current project release. Its purpose is to enable that the project is on the track to deliver the expected solution within the desired schedule.

Herebelow you can see our team’s Burndown Chart.

Let me explain how it works (at least for our team :))

In a typical Sprint Goal, we are taking the responsibility of completion of a total number of Story Points according to the team’s capacity. Once the Sprint starts, at the end of each Daily Scrum we are monitoring the status of the completed Story Points and make the associated adjustments on the burndown chart. (as seen in red) The blue line shows the projected trend of burning Story Points in ideal cases. However, as you would see in this graph, chances are we could not make a good Sprint start and at the first few days, there is no SBIs in DONE state.

Transparently, as a team we really took advantage of tracking the completed work so closely  every single day. Sometimes, no change on the graph made us feel bad, sometimes we really enjoyed the sharp decrease on the trend. One way or another, burndown chart is a great tangeble asset for the team to stay focused and working hard in order to hit the Sprint Goal. I strongly recommend to adapt burndown chart usage to all Scrum teams to empower the team sprit and consistently meeting the Sprint objectives. 

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