Sprint burndown

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Throughout your sprint, you can monitor the sprint burndown chart to determine if your team is on track to complete its sprint plan.

Use this topic to learn

  • How to view current and past sprint burndowns
  • Required and recommended activities to support sprint burndown

For usage guidance, see Burndown guidance.

Note

The system automatically builds a sprint burndown chart based on the tasks and Remaining Work estimates you define and update throughout the sprint cycle. For details, see Sprint planning and Task board. To open the sprint burndown chart, jump to the section Open sprint burndown chart.

A healthy sprint burndown chart will look something like this. The Ideal Trend line connects the two points:

- (1) Team's total capacity at the start of the sprint
- (2) 0 Remaining Work at the end of the sprint.

The slope represents the rate at which the team needs to burn down work to finish the sprint on time.

The actual graph, the blue area, represents the total amount of planned sprint work and how it changes throughout the course of the sprint. The blue area corresponds to the sum of all Remaining Work set for all sprint tasks, and possibly bugs, that have the current sprint as their iteration path.

Healthy sprint burndown chart

Open sprint burndown chart

Click the chart to display it in a larger view.

Open sprint burndown chart

Note

You can't add the system-generated sprint burndown chart to a dashboard. However, you can add the Sprint burndown widget, which captures the same information for the current sprint, to a dashboard.

In particular you can review your sprint burndown charts to show the team patterns in execution. The burndown charts maintain a record of the team's ability to plan and estimate.

Sprint 1 Sprint 2 Sprint 3
Sprint 1 Sprint 2 Sprint 3

Teams may find it useful to review this record periodically during their sprint retrospectives. It may spark useful discussions and lead to setting one or more sprint goals, such as:

  • How does our projected velocity match up to our actual velocity?
  • How can we more accurately determine how much we will be able to accomplish in a sprint?
  • How can we complete work at a more regular pace throughout the sprint?

In order to access the sprint burndown chart and use it to monitor your sprint progress, your team must perform the following actions.

Required:

Recommended:

  • Define tasks that take a day or less to complete to lessen the impact of poor estimates.
  • Don't divide tasks into subtasks. If you divide a task into subtasks, specify hours only for the subtasks. These hours are rolled up as summary values for the parent task.
  • Update Remaining Work daily or several times within a week to support monitoring and achieve a smoother burndown chart.
  • At the end of the sprint, update the task status of completed tasks and determine how to handle incomplete tasks.

Current and past sprint burndown charts

As you complete each sprint, the system maintains a history of your activity. You can always review past sprints and sprint burndown charts by choosing the sprint listed under the Past section.

Past sprints provide historical record

Try this next

In addition to the sprint burndown chart, teams can review the velocity at which they work sprint over sprint. The velocity chart tracks how many backlog items your team works on in a sprint.

You can use your team velocity as input into the forecast tool to help plan your sprints.

You can learn more about defining, planning, and executing your sprints from these topics:

And, from these industry resources:

For on-premises TFS deployments, you can specify the format that appears—h for hours or d for days—for the remaining work field.

Empty sprint burndown chart

If your sprint burndown chart appears empty, check the following:

  • Have you assigned tasks to the sprint associated with the chart?
  • Have you assigned remaining work to the tasks assigned to the sprint?
  • Are the parent work items of the tasks assigned to the same sprint? If not, the tasks may appear in another sprint associated with the parent item.