A burndown chart shows a graphical representation of the number of cards that needs to be completed versus time. It allows you to see an estimation for when all cards on a board will be completed based on your team’s velocity over the past three days. The burndown chart is often used by teams working in sprints or in short projects with clear deadlines. Those teams aim for completing all cards on the board within 2-4 weeks and therefore want to predict if they will finish on time.

Working in sprints, visualizing burnups and burndowns 

Teams working in sprints usually decide how much work they will take on during a ‘Sprint Planning’. All cards for that upcoming sprint are pulled from the planning backlog to their team board, this action will create a burnup.

To view the burndown chart, open the menu (⋮) on the right side of the board and click charts. The burndown chart menu allows you to set a date range and select what to burn by: number of cards, estimation, or time spent.

During the sprint, team members assign cards to themselves and pull them forward once they have capacity to do so. As cards are completed and reaches the rightmost column, the chart will start trending downwards. You can add an ideal burndown line that shows how fast you would ideally work in order to complete all cards before the sprint ends or before the project is due. If you compare the ideal line (green) with the predicted line (red dotted) you can see if you’re on the right track.

Once the sprint is over you can see if the team managed to complete everything they had committed to. The burndown chart should in that case have reached all the way to the bottom, indicating that there are no cards left to be completed.

Reusing the same board and comparing past sprints

As mentioned in this article, we see many teams creating new boards for each project or sprint. Working with team boards instead will not only make it easier to overview work but will also improve the historical data used in charts and reports. By reusing the same board, you get both a burnup and a burndown, letting you compare sprints by setting date ranges.

Comparing past sprints will help you analyze your team’s performance in a retrospective. You can easily see how many cards (or estimated hours/points) on average your team can burn through during one sprint. This will help make your planning and estimation more accurate in the future.

Want to learn more?

To go even deeper into how you can use charts to analyze your team’s performance and improve your process even further, check out the article “Working with cycle times and identifying bottlenecks in your process“.

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