What Makes the Burn Up Chart Such an Effective Agile Tracker? - 7pace
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What Makes the Burn Up Chart Such an Effective Agile Tracker?
Published:Jan 24, 2023

What Makes the Burn Up Chart Such an Effective Agile Tracker?

What’s the toughest part of being a software development project manager? If your answer to that question is communication with product owners and external stakeholders, you’re not the only one.

When your primary job function involves programming in C++, it’s hard to explain the work you do on a daily basis to someone who hasn’t touched a line of code in their entire lives. 

So, it’s the project manager’s task to develop an efficient workflow for engaging stakeholders and keeping them informed on your team’s progress.

But this puts PMs in a tough spot. 

That’s why project managers use data visualization to display overall progress to stakeholders in a way that makes sense to them. After all, a simple graph outlining tasks completed is far easier to understand for the non-technical than metrics like code coverage or escaped defects.

A burn up chart is the most straightforward way of visualizing your development progress to stakeholders, making it the number one tool in the agile project management handbook. 

Today, let’s dive into the world of data visualization to understand what a burn up chart really is and how you can create one.

What Is a Burn Up Chart, Really?

Simply put, burn up charts are a visual representation of your team’s progress from one sprint to the next during an agile iteration. 

They display the number of story points completed during each sprint, putting the work accomplished in perspective against the total amount of work deliverable. 

(If you want a better understanding of agile terms like story points and product iterations, check out our in-depth guide on agile KPIs.) 

So, burn up charts are designed to reveal three things: a) the total amount of work deliverable for the entire project, b) the ideal amount of work accomplished during a sprint, and c) the actual amount of completed work in a given sprint.

Together, these elements offer a comprehensive view of your project progress to stakeholders whether or not they are aware of the technical aspects of your work.

Burn up charts are a visual representation of your teams progress from one sprint to the next during an agile iteration

When Should You Use a Burn Up Chart?

There are lots of data visualization techniques consisting of different types of charts used in the agile methodology — so it’s important to know which one of them is right for any given situation.

A burn up chart is most useful when communicating with external stakeholders because it visualizes your team’s progress by tracking the amount of work accomplished. 

As opposed to a burndown chart, which plots the amount of work remaining as a downward slope from left to right, burn up charts display the number of story points accomplished along with the total amount of work deliverable for the software project. 

Not only does it provide stakeholders with a bird’s eye view of the project, but it also helps you as a project manager to showcase your team’s achievements over the course of payable time.

Moreover, burn up charts can also be used to forecast your team’s progress over the course of the project. For example, if you have historical data on the amount of work completed in the last few sprints, you can use that to predict how much work you’ll get done over the next sprint.

How to Create a Burn Up Chart from Scratch

It’s very easy to create a burn up chart, which is part of what makes it so great. Before we dive into the process of creating one, let’s take a moment to understand the concept:

A burn up chart works by plotting the amount of story points completed in the vertical axis against the number of sprints on the horizontal axis. It also consists of the following elements:

  • A straight line from left to right showing the total number of user stories to be completed throughout the course of the project. This line remains parallel to the x-axis unless there’s a scope change.
  • A line visualizing the ideal or predicted amount of work to be accomplished per sprint.
  • A line indicating the actual progress in story points accomplished per sprint.

You can use spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel to easily create burn up charts from existing data. 

Apart from that, there’s plenty of different platforms that enable you to generate data visualization charts for agile teams. If you use a project management tool to track your team’s progress, it may also have built-in options to help you visualize your team’s burnup.

But, the best way to create a burn up chart that updates itself in real time with the most accurate data on your team’s performance is to use a time-tracking tool like 7pace.

Using 7pace to visualize sprint burnup

Using 7pace to Visualize Your Sprint Burnup

7pace is a time-tracking extension that integrates seamlessly with Azure DevOps to provide in-depth data on your team’s performance right within your development environment. 

It enables you not only to track current performance but also to create estimates for new projects using a proprietary concept called “pace”.

With 7pace, you gain access to several extra features like a dedicated reporting dashboard that you can customize with relevant fields like work items, activity types, and project iterations. 

This lets you create deep-dive reports on your team’s performance, including burn up charts that you can share with your project stakeholders.

What’s more, we just launched 7pace for Github. That means more developers can take advantage of our extensive time-tracking tools regardless of the platform they’re on.

Want to learn more about how 7pace can help you as a project manager? Get started today!

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