In Defense of the Burn-Down Chart

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Jurgen recently posted on why we should chuck our burn-down chart in favor of the better, faster, stronger burn-up chart. I agree with the facts of the case: burn-up charts reveal more information. But, I don’t want to kiss my burn-down chart goodbye just yet.

I’ll admit that I’ve started using burn-down charts only recently, so I can’t speak from a volume of experience, but my favorite thing about burning down is the simplicity: Make the line go down. If it’s not going down and aimed at the target, something is wrong.

I use it as the proverbial canary in a coal mine. It signals when things are off-track. Then it’s up to me to track down why they’re off. We may have discovered new tasks, features might have been added (scope creep), or there’s some obstacle to our progress. I’m not looking to the chart to tell me why things are off, just if they’re off.

Don’t get me wrong. Someday I’d love to be at a point where I could create and use a burn-up chart like this, but for now, all I can manage is the stark good/bad of the burn-down chart.


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