by Manon Midy

Surprises, astonished things, untoward events … in others words, uncertainty, are inherent to any type of project. Even with the best will in the world and the more engaged people, that’s difficult to precisely schedule how long each tasks will take.

And that makes it very difficult to manage projects even more using traditional project management tools. Indeed, time assumptions and Gantt chart created before the green fire of a project are helpful for setting initial milestones and budgets. But once the project is on the way, they can’t help understand how to adjust course if something unplanned happen. The question is: how to map the project’s current status to available options for reaching the initial goal?

We need a chart helping teams to move forward and adjust what next, not blaming each other because such task took more effort than planned. Burn up charts do.
In a previous article, I share the basics to read a Burnup chart properly. This post helps you going forward, taking the safest and more reliable solution if something deviates the initial purpose.

Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, whether the agile way you and your colleagues are keen of, the burnup chart is really valuable.

Burnup charts help teams take a decision

Recording what happened from the beginning of the project until now, a burn up chart shows the past, the present and the future trend. It highlights risks and gaps towards the final objective.

Burn up charts help identify options to adjust the course of your project. Most of time, teams have 3 levers they can activate:

  • Delivery scope: this is a amount of deliveries. You cut features to meet the deadline.
  • Team effort: you increase the number of people working on the subject.
  • Deadline: given a working set of features and a fixed team, you extend the deadline.

Adjusting Scope and Budget

Once a team has a few good sprints worth of data recorded, the burn up chart can help visualize the options for adjusting a project plan to keep it on track. If scope is added or the ideal trajectory proves to be unrealistic given actual data, we can illustrate the following options using a burn-up chart:

Solution 1 : Reduce scope to save calendar deadlines and budget

Solution 2 : Extend deadlines (or budget) to deliver all work

A transparent basis for discussions with clients

The goal of any chart is up-to-date communication, at a glance. Burnup is an effective tool for communicating to project clients and partners. It shows completed work and project scope.

When discussing a project status with a client, the burn-up chart provides an up-to-date and transparent view of the state of the release. By visualizing options to adjust the plan, a burnup can provide a way for you and your client to consider a potential adjustment to scope, budget, and/or timeline within the context of the overall project.

It will show how an extra feature request they are asking affect the deadline. It enables customers re-evaluate whether they really need that extra functionality or not.

Having conversations regularly and early will keep all the team focused on building the right product without sacrificing value or quality.

Burnup chart is really helpful

Here are the most important things about Burnup charts you should keep in mind.

  • Visualisation enables early detect difficulties.
  • Visualisation does not alone correct problems but it enables anticipate and communicate as soon as possible.
  • Displaying the “DONE” work is really important as the customer will, at the end of the milestone, only get the completed work.

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Manon Midy


Manon Midy

Manon has been working in the software engineering world from 2008. She enjoys the challenge to create economic value for a company where innovation and open source are the DNA. She is convinced it’s possible to provide professional services embracing FLOSS values (open-mind, transparency, co-elaboration) with business objectives. She believes the real strength of Enalean comes from the valuable men and women in their teams, as well as the powerful Tuleap techno. 

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