In agile we can use either a burn-up chart or burn-down chart for tracking the health of releases or sprints. These charts help the team and stakeholders to understand how is the progress in any point of the release or sprint.

Burn-down chart provides you the information showing the progress based on the remaining hours or story points from top to bottom. This chart features  two lines: expected remaining and actual remaining, this is the most used chart in scrum and since it has only two lines it is considered to be a simple chart. .

On the other hand the burn-up chart shows you the information based on the progress from bottom to top. This report demonstrates three lines: scope, expected progress and actual progress.

Burn-up charts has one important advantage that it allows to divide the scope and the progress whereas, in the Burn-down it is combined and it doesn’t allow to visualize and identify changes in scope and/or progress.

Therefore, by looking at g the burn-down chart may result in giving the appearance  that the team is not performing well, but the problem could be an increase on the scope of work.  

See example below

The burn-down chart displays the remaining story points for the project in sprint 5 is 226. It means that the team has  progressed 126 story points (from 352 remaining story points at start to 226 remaining story points).

The similar  information represented in a burn-up chart shows that  the progress is 126 story points represented by  the red line. However, in this case there is  one more line that  shows the scope, which is 352 story points.

To continue with the comparison between burn-down and burn-up charts the remaining story points are the same 226, the  scope is 352 story points  and an actual of 126 story points.

As you can see both charts showcase similar information from different angles: burn/remaining vs progress.

To better understand the advantage of using burn-up chart

In order to  clearly show  how it works and why burn-up charts have an advantage the following is an example assuming that for sprint six  120 story points will be burned but the scope has also increased by 120 story points.

As you can see below in the burn-down chart, , one could possibly  think that the team did not  do any progress, since the remaining story points for sprint five and sprint six are the same, 226 story points. However, the team did the best sprint ever because the scope was increased, which  it did not reflect  the real velocity of the team.

Using burn-Up chart allows to see the reality. In this case, the team has recovered the delay that they had of 50 story points and also put the project ahead by 26 story points as per the original plan.

This information is reflected  in the chart since the actual was 246 story points whereas, the target was 220 story point. Therefore, we can conclude t the team is doing well but that the problem is the scope changes.

Extra bonus of using burn-up chart

Using the burn-up chart with the following table one u can get the estimate of completion which is demonstrated with a brown line shown in the graph below.  The deviation shown in the project, for example in this case 94 story points can also be seen in the burn-down chart. 94 story points are the extra points  needed from estimate at completion which is 378 story points to achieve the actual scope of 472 story points. Also, you can get a metrics related to scope and velocity.

Furthermore, based on the projection that the project will be finished by sprint 12, 472 story points are needed.

Using burn-up chart you will better understand the progress, change in scope and expected time of completion. It gives a more clear picture and control to all the stakeholders.

We hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to contact us if you have further questions or comments.

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