A burndown chart can be used by an agile team to track their progress against a release plan. In its simplest form, the chart consists of time on the X axis and the amount of work on the Y axis.
You can choose to burn down on whatever metrics that are relevant to your team. Since I prefer burning down on story points against iterations, that is what we’ll use for this tutorial.
It only takes a Google Account, a few minutes of your spare time and best of all it’s free.
Create a Google Spreadsheet
Enter 3 columns labeled Iterations, Ideal and Actual
Enter the number of planned iterations in the Iterations column
Enter the ideal number of points to complete per iteration in the Ideal column. (we’re using a velocity of 10)
Enter in the actual number of points completed by the team per iteration in the Actual column
Click the Insert Chart icon
Click select data range and select your rows of data
Select line chart type
Check both “Use row 3 as headers” and “Use column A as labels”
Customize it with a title of Release Burndown, an X axis label of Iterations, a Y axis label of Story Points and a Point Style of Tiny
Click the Insert button
I’ve shared the burndown chart I created in this demo if you wish to get a better idea of how it is structured. It is only a guide, and there are many different ways you can change the data to suit your needs. These variations range from burning down, burning up and accounting for changes in velocity to predicting optimistic / pessimistic completions and so on.
If you continue to find these quick tutorials useful, such as the Virtual Story Wall in Google Docs, let me know in the comments and I’ll continue to create them.