Interpreting Sprint or Iteration burn-down charts

If you learn to interpret the iteration burn down charts or sprint burn down charts, then you have understood agile or scrum conceptually correct. This article will walk you through the iteration burn down chart of a sprint.


The Iteration or Sprint starts with the Iteration planning meeting. The output of the iteration planning meeting are;

  • The list of features to be developed during the iteration
  • Estimated story points (feature points) for the features (Fibonacci series)
  • The activities that need to be performed and their effort estimates
  • The tracking board (kanban board) which has the columns for;
    • To be done
    • Being done
    • Done
  • Two types of the Iteration / Sprint burn down chart
    • One with cumulative effort required to complete the sprint on the ‘Y’ axis and the duration of the sprint on the ‘X’ axis. The balance effort required to complete the sprint gets updated on a daily basis. This is a re-estimate by the team on a daily basis (this is not planned effort – consumed effort). This type of iteration burn down charts with the effort required to complete the iteration on the ‘Y’ axis and the iteration duration on the ‘X’ axis will help teams to speed up when required.
    • Teams use Iteration burn down to monitor the story points completed against the story points planned within the iteration. In this case the ‘Y’ axis will have the total story points planned for the sprint. This will get decreased based on the actual story points completed. This type of iteration burn down charts help the project stakeholders, especially the product owner to monitor and control the story points planned Vs achieved within the iteration.

Sprint burn down – Immediately after the planning meeting

Sprint burn down after day#2 of the sprint

Sprint burn down after day#3 of the sprint

Sprint burn down after day#4 of the sprint

Areas to apply agile within EPC Projects

The overall duration of the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) intensive projects can be reduced / controlled considerably by the application of agile best practices during the following phase / activities;

Pre-project phase

  • Assigning a task force to conduct preliminary studies
  • Studying the users requirements
  • Defining the technical specifications
  • Studying how to secure funds
  • Estimation of the project cost and duration (budgetary)
  • Approval of the project cost
  • Determining the technical specification of the materials
  • Studying the impact of the project on safety and health
  • Establishing criteria for the selection of project location
  • Establishment of milestones
  • Describing the responsibilities and authority of the parties involved
  • Establishment of a change control process
  • Establishment of design criteria for structural specifications
  • Conducting a feasibility study of the proposed project
  • Site preparation / readiness
    • Getting all the clearances required
    • Establishing the construction areas and path of construction

Site preparation

  • Land acquisition
  • Re-rehabilitation
  • Getting all the clearances required
  • Ensuring site readiness

Project phase

  • Basic design phase
    • Documentation for tendering and contracting
    • Specifications for procuring equipment
    • Regular design and specification review meetings
  • Detailed design phase
    • Qualifying of design professionals
    • Performing technical and financial analysis of offers from competing contractors
    • Selecting the design team
    • Providing inputs to design on time
    • Monitoring and controlling the design progress
    • Updating design documents
    • Reviewing design documents
    • Ensuing design quality and adherence to technical standards
  • Tendering
    • Preparing the specifications and agreement conditions
    • Preparing bill of quantities (BOQ) and estimating the contract value
    • Issuing tender documents
    • Holding tender briefing meetings
    • Receiving bids and evaluating them
    • Recommendations are made for the successful contractor
    • Awarding of the contract
  • Execution or construction phase
  • If detailed designs are not provided as part of the tender document, the contractor proceeds with the detailed design and drawings and follows it up with construction
  • Regular progress monitoring

Closure or completion phase

  • Snag lists
  • Punch lists
  • Completion certificate

As we can see, these are the areas where multi disciplinary communication and coordination is required maximum. The biggest culprit for delay in most of the infrastructure projects is in getting clearances. By bringing in agile project management (APM) best practices to these areas of projects, the overall delay of the projects can be controlled effectively.

Lead the change your product is intended to make

You have a brilliant product idea, and you want to go ahead very fast with the product idea, and unfortunately things are not moving as planned. After some time, you are tired, and almost drops the idea. A few years later suddenly you come across a very successful product in the market, similar to the one you conceived years before and dropped half way through. This is a very common shared experience by many first time product owners.

After all, every innovative product is intended to shake the world in a gentle way. It is about changing the lives of many in a gentle way. The internet did it. iPhone did it with the touch screen. The android phone did it in a subtly different way. The covid vaccines are doing it, the medical equipment and the building material segment is doing it…the automotive industry is a veteran in this. ..every successful product changes the way we do things in a subtly better innovative way. More than just product development, what really matters is the long term strategy to manage the change the product is intended to deliver to it’s end users.

Eight steps to manage the change promised by the product of your project

  1. Sense of Urgency – The first and foremost ingredient to change management is creating the sense of urgency. When we are working for others, we are always pressurized by others deadlines. But when you own the product, the risk of complacency is very high. During the initial phases of the product, your investment in the product is low. Your only potential loss is the opportunity cost (opportunity lost if the product fails to take off) which is a futuristic cash flow. You do not feel a crisis at this stage and the ‘sense of urgency’ can take a back seat. This is really risky phase. Consistent ‘sense of urgency’ is one good quality I have observed in every successful product owner / entrepreneur.
  2. Creating the guiding coalition – To see the envisaged change by the product of your project impacting the world positively, one has to create a great coalition who resonates the same excitement and sense of urgency you have about the product. This coalition include technical experts, financial experts, marketing gurus, quality assurance, sales, investors…they are all external entities and getting them as excited as you are in the project starts with the right selection of these partners and getting them work together as a team.
  3. Developing a vision & Strategy – For many reasons, for many the vision and strategy documents are something to decorate the office. Many management books describes vision as something that motivates you to get up everyday and work. The best definition of ‘Vision’ that excites me most is the one by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the late president of India. It goes like this…’Vision is something that wont let you to sleep, till accomplished’. Having an exciting vision and a strategy to support it makes all the partners / stakeholders work together as a cohesive unit.
  4. Communicating the change vision – Nobody lights a lamp and keeps it under the cot, instead it is placed on the lamp stand so that others can see the light. This is true with the change visions as well.
  5. Empowering broad based action – Removing impediments, getting rid of obstacles, encouraging risk taking and innovation.
  6. Generating short term wins – Releasing the minimum viable product (MVP), as fast as possible to the early adopters and then moving fast to address the other segments.
  7. Consolidating gains and producing more change – Incorporating change at a rapid pace to incorporate the feedback and the lessons from the market.
  8. Anchoring new approaches in the culture – After the early successes, profitable cash flows, successful partnerships it is time to consolidate, refine and institutionalize so that you can move on to more exciting products and changes that can impact the world in a better, bigger way.

Every project has a product or service as a primary deliverable. These products and services brings in changes the way people do things. Developing a product with the technical team is easier when compared to sell and manage the change the product offers. While developing the product calls for management skills, managing the change need leadership skills. Behind every successful product, there is a successful product owner who plays the leaders role.

Reference – Leading change – John P Kotter

Digital and Agile PMO

PMOs are evolving at a faster pace than anticipated. The traditional PMO’s started by providing project delivery support. Soon PMOs became strategic in nature by extending their support to enterprise portfolio management. This was followed by the digital PMO and the Agile PMO.

The future is of ‘Digitally agile PMOs’, which will help the project managers and other key stakeholders to be more agile and predictive at the same time. Facilitating the adoption of agility along with the predictability of the predictive project management.

Here is a mind map on the evolution of PMOs through traditional, strategic, digital and agile to ‘Digitally agile PMO’

Evolution of the PMO

Characteristics of digitally agile PMO

  • Multi disciplinary – They are multi disciplinary. They must be able to support projects in all the aspects of project management covering;
    • Scope
    • Schedule
    • Cost
    • Resources
    • Procurement
    • Communications
    • Stakeholders
    • Quality
    • Risks
    • Integration
  • Value driven – Their primary focus is to maximize the value delivered to the customer in the shortest possible time. They must also enforce a minimum set of ground rules to facilitate effective collaboration.
  • Agile metrics – Apart from the traditional metrics, they focus on the agile metrics. Most of the predictive project management metrics and measurements are focused on the past performance like schedule variance, cost variance etc, where as the agile metrics combine both past and future indicators.
  • Balance flexibility & stability – While scope is flexible, other parameters like time buckets, rules of credit, definition of done (acceptance criteria) must remain non-negotiable and must be uniform across projects.
  • Quick response to changes – As agile projects welcome changes even late in the project, agile PMOs should also align to this character of agile projects.
  • Flexible reporting tools
    • Iteration burn downs
    • Release burn downs
    • Product burn downs
    • EVM for agile
    • Cumulative flow diagrams
    • Schedule forecasts
    • Cost forecasts
  • Multi device
    • Any device
    • Any time
    • Any relevant stakeholder
    • Integration of new and legacy platforms

Benefits from a ‘digitally agile’ approach to project management


  • Project with tight schedule with penalty clause
  • Multi cultural team with team members from USA and China
  • Concurrent engineering from 6 different locations


  • Hybrid project management, mixing the best of both agile and predictive best practices. The long term planning was based on the predictive styles where as for execution the best practices of agile were used
  • Right selection of a project monitoring and control tool with the capability to;
    • Support both predictive and agile ways of working
    • Provide transparency and accuracy of project progress data to relevant stakeholders almost real time
    • Interface with legacy scheduling and document management systems
    • Roll up and roll down project status from multiple locations
    • Manage risks
    • Manage quality
    • Manage configuration management of engineering drawings
    • Collaborate across multiple teams


  • Project got completed ahead of schedule
  • 85% improvement in project management efficiency
  • 75% less time in reporting
  • 100% quality achievement
  • 80% reduction in deliverable management time
  • Reduction in review cycle time from 7 days to 1 day

To know more contact us

Creating Agile Environment

For agile project management has to take roots within teams and across organizations, an agile friendly environment is a pre-requisite. The agile environment must be based on respect, commitment, openness, courage. The members of the agile ecosystem must respect each other. The members must be highly committed to complete the work at hand, nothing else. Everything must be open, that include work progress information, challenges, productivity etc. The team members must be encouraged to be courageous enough to calculated risks. This video explores the ways of building an ideal agile environment, before starting the deployment of agile framework.

How technology empowers Agile Remote teams – Fernanda Lopez

In the past few months remote work has become one of the most common ways of work. With benefits including reduced travel costs, increased organizational benefits from using the best talent regardless of location, and the greater availability of sophisticated technology to support such distributed work. (source)

This trend is expected to continue, but as we already said, the success of remote work can be supported by technology improvements. Today we are going to learn more about the technological necessities that a remote team has. But even more specific the features that an agile team needs to work remotely.

Read more

Get Scrum (Agile) certification in 1 hour

SCRUM is the most popular framework among the agile family of frameworks like XP, Crystal, SAFE, Disciplined Agile, TDD etc. Scrum is simple and domain independent. With PMI promoting Hybrid project management which allows the combination of predictive and agile project management, knowledge of agile is becoming mandatory for all project managers irrespective of their domain.

We are offering this free one hour on demand scrum training to help all those who want to understand agile. The best method to master Agile is to master SCRUM completely before trying to learn all the jargon and best practices available in the agile world. Instead of remaining as a jack of all agile frameworks and master of none, this training will help you to be master of scrum before getting into everything out there.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will learn;

  • Roles and responsibilities of;
    • Scrum master
    • Product owner
    • Development team
  • Scrum ceremonies like;
  • Sprint planning meeting
    • Daily Scrum
    • Sprint review
    • Sprint retrospective
  • Scrum artifacts like;
    • Product backlog
    • Sprint backlog
    • Definition of done
    • Product increment

Start your agile journey now… Click here