Visualize your work progress using story points and burndown charts

Backlog offers several ways to work visually with tasks. Besides using Boards and Gantt charts, you can also choose to use Burndown charts.

Today, we’re going to go through a quick overview of how you can use Burndown charts in Backlog to visualize how quickly you and your team are completing tasks, including whether you are on track to hit all your project milestones and deadlines.

Burndown charts vs Gantt charts

To refresh our memory, a Gantt chart shows each task as an elongated block with start and end dates on a continuous timeline.

On the other hand, a burndown chart shows the amount of remaining work (in hours) plotted against the milestone’s timeline. As work is done, a line ‘burns down’ until it reaches zero, which indicates that all work and tasks have been completed.

Comparing Gantt charts and burndown charts Characteristics Recommended uses Gantt chart Intuitive to use Easy to view task  information such as start/end dates, status, and assignee Can express dependencies and order relationships between tasks Projects with minor changes or that require minimal effort  Easily defined projects with solid time estimates. Burndown chart Simply expresses the project status in terms of remaining tasks versus time Actual task completion rate and work performance reflected in the chart Chart is automatically updated every five minutes and a task status changes Projects that are more likely to undergo changes  If the amount of work is difficult to predict upfront

Gantt charts are intuitively easier to understand than burndown charts. That’s why some people prefer to use the Gantt chart for their projects. Additionally, it’s possible to manage or plan tasks on a Gantt chart and easily communicate details like the task status, person-in-charge, start/end dates, project deadlines, etc.

On the other hand, burndown charts are a bit less intuitive for people who are not familiar with them. But, they’re useful in helping us to understand the amount of work required and how long it’s taking to complete tasks. For example, it is possible to look at the burndown chart below and naturally come to the conclusion that it will be difficult to meet the milestone deadline based on the work rate.

If work progress is not progressing as estimated, a flame icon will show on the chart.

Understanding absolute and relative estimates 

Burndown charts operate on the principle of estimating how much work is required for tasks. To figure this out, there are two methods used for estimation:

Absolute estimation is a direct estimation of the work/time required for a task, e.g. in units of hours, man-days, or man-months.  Relative estimation is an estimation of the work and time of a task by comparing it to another task. The unit for relative estimation in Agile/Scrum is a story point.  Advantages of using relative estimation and story points

Firstly, it’s easier to agree on an estimate by using a common base for comparison. 

For example, depending on the person, people tend to have differing opinions as to whether a task takes 5 or 8 man-days. Trying to settle the difference occupies the team’s time and blocks them from moving forward. 

However, it’s easier to agree that Task A is about the same size as Task B, and should take

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