Burn Up Charts Explained: Everything You Need To Know

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Aug 16, 2022
Updated on
Aug 16, 2022
Table of Content

Looking at a burn up chart (or burnup chart, or even burn-up chart) is a lot like looking into the future. By understanding how this type of chart works, you can begin to see trends and patterns that will help you make better business decisions. 

A burn up chart is a graphical representation of the progress of a project. The horizontal axis shows the total amount of work to be done, while the vertical axis shows the amount of work that has been completed. It is a valuable tool for project managers because it allows them to track the progress of their projects and identify any potential problems early on.

This blog post will explain the ins and outs of a burn up chart and how to read it. We'll also provide some examples to give you a better understanding of how this tool works. Once you understand the basics of the burn up chart you'll be able to use it to your advantage to improve your business processes. Stay tuned!

What is a Burn Up Chart?

A burn up chart is a graphical representation of the amount of work completed on a project compared to the total amount of work that is estimated to be required. The burn up chart can track progress, identify bottlenecks, and forecast the completion date. The burn up chart is typically used in Agile software development, but can be applied to any project where work is divided into discrete units. 

To create a burn up chart, simply plot the total amount of work remaining on the Y-axis and the total amount of work completed on the X-axis. The line will move up and to the right as work is completed. If the line starts flattering or moving down, the team is falling behind schedule. 

A burn up chart is a valuable tool for project managers as it provides a clear picture of progress and can help to identify potential problems early on. Used in conjunction with other agile tools such as Scrum boards and velocity charts, the burn up chart can help teams to deliver high-quality products on time and within budget.

Burn Down Chart Vs. Burn Up Chart

In project management, burndown charts and burn up charts are two ways of visualizing the amount of work remaining until the completion of a project. As the name suggests, burn down charts "burn down" over time, while burn up charts "burn up" over time.

So, what's the difference? Burn down charts are typically used in Agile project management, focusing on regularly delivering small pieces of functionality. Burn up charts on the other hand are more common in traditional project management, focusing on providing a complete product or service.

In a burndown chart, each iteration starts with a certain amount of work. This could be represented by the total number of hours required to complete the project or by the number of features that need to be implemented. The aim is to "burn down" this work throughout the iteration so that no work remains by the end of it. To do this, you track the progress made each day and plot it on a graph.

A burn up chart is similar, but instead of starting with a certain amount of work to be done, you start with zero work to be done. The aim is to "burn up" this work over time so that all of the work is complete by the end of the project. As with burn down charts, you track progress each day and plot it on a graph.

While burn down and burn up charts can be helpful tools for visualizing progress, burn down charts are generally considered more helpful in Agile projects, and burn up charts are usually considered more helpful in traditional projects.

Burn Up Chart Benefits

When it comes to analyzing data and making informed decisions, nothing is more valuable than a burn up chart. Burn up charts comprehensively show how much work has been completed over a given period. They can be used to track everything from product development to software project management. 

By understanding the benefits of burn up charts, you can use this powerful tool to improve your business process and get better results. These benefits are;

  • Tracking a project's overall development
  • Monitoring the project's predicted progress over a predetermined period
  • Illustrating the project's full scope
  • Analyzing a project's timeline to see if it meets the necessary deadline
  • Demonstrating how effectively a project is running
  • Expressing the proportion of a project that is finished at any particular time
  • Indicating how much effort is still needed to finish a project

How to Create a Burn Up Chart

Creating a burn up chart is an efficient way of tracking the progress of your project. This chart allows you to see how much work has been completed and how much remains. In this section, we will explain how to create a burn up chart.

Identify total scope and time of work

First, identify the total scope of work to be done. This can be achieved by making a list of all deliverables or tasks that need to be completed. Next, estimate the time each task will take to complete. Once you have this information, you can begin creating the burn up chart.

Set the X-axis

Make an X-axis at the bottom of the burn up chart. This axis represents sprints or the amount of time assigned to the project. 

Set the Y-axis

Next, draw a vertical Y-axis across the burn up chart. This axis represents the amount of work remaining in the project, often known as tale points. 

Determine the colors of the lines

Determine what each line in the burn up chart represents by assigning a color to it. A green line, for example, may represent all finished work in the project. A red line may signify the scope or amount of work to be completed before the project is finished. The chart can then be filled out as your project advances.

How to Read a Burn Up Chart

To read a burn up chart, first identify the total scope of the project on the vertical axis. This will give you an idea of the size and scope of the project. Next, identify the timeframe for the project on the horizontal axis. This will help you track the project's progress and see how much work has been completed. Finally, identify the burn rate on the chart. This will tell you how quickly the project is progressing and whether or not it is on schedule.

Burn Up Chart Examples

Burn up charts are helpful in many fields like product development and software project management. In this section, we will provide examples of using a burnup chart in different industries.

Software Development

In software development, a burn up chart can be used to track the progress of a project. The X-axis represents Sprints or the amount of time assigned to the project. The Y-axis represents the amount of work remaining in the project. The chart can track the project's progress and see if it is on schedule.

Product Development

In product development, a burn up chart can be used to track the progress of a product. The X-axis represents the time that has passed since the product was launched. The Y-axis represents the amount of work remaining. The chart can track the product's progress and see if it is on schedule.

Conclusion

A burn up chart is a diagram that illustrates the progress of a project over time. It starts at the beginning of the project and plots out each completed stage or task on the Y-axis while measuring cumulative work completed (or remaining) on the X-axis. 

Burn up charts are especially helpful in projects with tight deadlines where it’s essential to track and manage expectations about when tasks will be completed. They also help team members understand their role in meeting the project's overall goal. If you’re looking for a way to visualize your project’s progress, give burn up charts a try!

If you’d like help drafting or understanding a burn up chart, contact us at GoRetro. GoRetro is an expert in assisting businesses in enhancing their processes to become more productive and efficient and can assist you with drafting a burn up chart to suit your business needs.

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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