Atlassian is an Australian company specializing in all things software development, from project management to code hosting to issue tracking. One of their flagship products is Jira, a comprehensive project management suite with a wide range of features.
Since its founding in 2002, Jira has become the most recommended Agile software tool in the world – and considering the host of well-developed features it offers, it isn't hard to see why.
One of the most popular features in Jira is its ability to create burndown charts – graphs that track the progress of a project over time. Burndown charts are an essential tool for Agile software development, as they allow team members to monitor the status of their project and make changes where necessary.
So, what exactly are burndown charts, and why are they so important? Let's take a closer look.
Burndown chart in the Agile context
Like most workflow tools, Jira’s burndown chart was created with a specific work methodology in mind: Agile project management. In this methodology, work is split up into phases. Tasks (or “stories”) are estimated in terms of their effort (in hours), and teams work to complete as many tasks as they can each day or week.
In the Agile context, the burndown chart is used to track the progress of a project over time. It can be used to help answer questions such as:
- How much work remains?
- What is the team’s velocity?
- Is the team on track to meet their deadlines?
- What tasks need to be completed in order to meet those deadlines?
How to Read a Burndown Chart in Jira
A burndown chart is a graph that shows the rate of task completion over time, typically represented as a line chart. The x-axis typically shows time in days or weeks, while the y-axis shows the number of tasks remaining (or completed) at each point in time. The slope of the line on the chart indicates how quickly work is being completed.
Ideally, the line should be a downward slope, indicating that work is being completed at a steady rate. If the line on the chart starts to curve up, it means that the team is falling behind and needs to speed up in order to meet their deadlines. Conversely, if the line curves down, it means that the team is ahead of schedule and can relax a bit.
Benefits of Using Burndown Charts
When your team begins to align with the Agile methodology, burndown charts are just one of the tools that can help you track and predict your project's progress. Burndown charts offer a host of benefits for both individuals and teams working on projects.
Some such benefits include:
- Helping individuals and teams to better understand the project's progress and status. Because of the way that burndown charts are laid out, they make it easy to see at a glance how much work remains and how that changes over time.
- Helping individuals and teams to identify potential issues and problems early. When the burndown chart starts to look like it's trending in the wrong direction, this can be an early warning sign of potential trouble.
- Identifying when the project is in danger of slipping its deadline. A well-used burndown chart will help you predict whether the project is going to be finished ahead of or behind schedule.
- Providing a historical record of the project's progress. This can be extremely helpful for teams looking to retrospect and learn from their past experiences.
- Fostering transparency and collaboration within the team. With everyone able to see the burndown chart, team members will have a better understanding of where the project is at and what still needs to be done.
How to Create a Burndown Chart in Jira
Jira makes the chart-building process easier by providing pre-made templates that you can use right away, as well as tools to help you customize your chart to fit your specific needs.
Your burndown chart will require the following information:
- The name of the project you're tracking.
- The start and end dates of the project.
- The number of stories or tasks in the project.
- The estimated effort for each story or task.
- A "burn" column that shows how much work has been completed over time.
Once you've prepared the information you need for your chart, here are some simple steps you can follow to create the chart in Jira:
1. Navigate to the Board view for your project and click on the Reports tab.
2. Under the Reporting section, select Burndown Chart. This will open up a dialog box where you can configure your chart's settings.
3. Select the date range for your chart.
4. Next, choose the issue types you want to include in your chart. You can also define a filter to include or exclude certain issues based on their status, priority, or other criteria.
5. Select the sprint(s) you want to include in your chart.
6. Choose the Velocity Scale you want to use. This will determine how the progress of your sprint is represented on the chart.
7. Select the Chart Type. You can choose between a Line Chart or a Bar Chart.
8. Click on Create to generate your chart.
Your chart will now be displayed, showing the progress of your sprint over the specified date range.
Epic Burndown Chart vs. Sprint Burndown Chart
Epic Burndown Chart
An Epic Burndown Chart is a graphic representation of the work progress on a sprint. Epics can be tracked by teams, enabling them to see how much work has been completed in the past. This allows teams to spot potential bottlenecks early and take corrective action.
To see the epic burndown chart for your project, open the project and go to Reports > Epic Burndown.
Sprint Burndown Chart
A Sprint Burndown Chart is a graphic representation of the work remaining in a sprint, typically measured in hours or days. By tracking the remaining tasks, the team can better estimate when they will complete the sprint.
To see the sprint burndown chart for your project, open the project and click Reports > Burndown Chart.
Project management is a critical part of any team’s workflow, and Jira is an excellent tool for overseeing tasks and tracking progress. In this article, we have covered the basics of Jira Burndown charts and discussed how to create one.
To summarize, burndown charts are a great way to monitor the progress of a project and ensure that it is on track. It can help teams identify potential problems early on and make necessary adjustments. They can also use it to predict when a project will be completed.
However, whilst Jira is time-tested and highly regarded there are still a lot of burndown chart tool alternatives to choose from. For example, GoRetro offers a free burndown chart that offers a wide range of features and tracking metrics for your dev team such as: Chart Drill down, Grace customization and Carry-over work views.
Find all the similarities and differences between Jira and GoRetro in our Jira burndown chart vs GoRetro burndown chart comparison article.