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Burndown charts or other ways to report status

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  • Leland Newsom
    We have been transitioning from a waterfall to a more iterative process and have been getting some resistance from a few team members for filling out the
    Message 1 of 13 , Nov 18, 2008
      We have been transitioning from a waterfall to a more iterative
      process and have been getting some resistance from a few team members
      for filling out the burndown charts. I've been tasked with reviewing
      the burndowns and seeing if there is anyway to improve the project
      reporting. Anyone have any other suggestions for tracking progress
      other than a burndown that we could consider?
    • David H.
      ... There is no other way to replace this very basic tool of tracking. There are many more advanced things you can add, but burndown charts are as essential as
      Message 2 of 13 , Nov 18, 2008
        On Tue, Nov 18, 2008 at 9:04 PM, Leland Newsom <biglnewsom@...> wrote:
        > We have been transitioning from a waterfall to a more iterative
        > process and have been getting some resistance from a few team members
        > for filling out the burndown charts. I've been tasked with reviewing
        > the burndowns and seeing if there is anyway to improve the project
        > reporting. Anyone have any other suggestions for tracking progress
        > other than a burndown that we could consider?
        >
        There is no other way to replace this very basic tool of tracking.
        There are many more advanced things you can add, but burndown charts
        are as essential as breathing.

        Thank you

        -d

        --
        Sent from gmail so do not trust this communication.
        Do not send me sensitive information here, ask for my none-gmail accounts.

        "Therefore the considerations of the intelligent always include both
        benefit and harm." - Sun Tzu
      • Angela Druckman
        Hi Leland - What about it exactly do they resist?  If they simply don t like the adminstrative act of filling out a form, consider gathering all this info in
        Message 3 of 13 , Nov 18, 2008
          Hi Leland -
           
          What about it exactly do they resist?  If they simply don't like the adminstrative act of filling out a form, consider gathering all this info in the Daily Scrum and letting the ScrumMaster fill out the burndown charts.  I make it my goal to introduce as little paperwork (electronic or hard copy) to my teams as possible.
           
          More complicated is the issue of not liking the burndown because it shows the whole world how little progress is being made.  If that's why they don't like it, you have a different problem entirely...
           
               --Angela

           


          From: Leland Newsom <biglnewsom@...>
          To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 1:04:02 PM
          Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Burndown charts or other ways to report status

          We have been transitioning from a waterfall to a more iterative
          process and have been getting some resistance from a few team members
          for filling out the burndown charts. I've been tasked with reviewing
          the burndowns and seeing if there is anyway to improve the project
          reporting. Anyone have any other suggestions for tracking progress
          other than a burndown that we could consider?


        • Ron Jeffries
          Hello, Leland. On Tuesday, November 18, 2008, at 4:04:02 PM, you ... Sprint burndowns? What do they have to fill out? Ron Jeffries www.XProgramming.com
          Message 4 of 13 , Nov 18, 2008
            Hello, Leland. On Tuesday, November 18, 2008, at 4:04:02 PM, you
            wrote:

            > We have been transitioning from a waterfall to a more iterative
            > process and have been getting some resistance from a few team members
            > for filling out the burndown charts. I've been tasked with reviewing
            > the burndowns and seeing if there is anyway to improve the project
            > reporting. Anyone have any other suggestions for tracking progress
            > other than a burndown that we could consider?

            Sprint burndowns? What do they have to fill out?

            Ron Jeffries
            www.XProgramming.com
            www.xprogramming.com/blog
            Steering is more important than speed,
            in driving and in software development.
          • Doug McQuilken
            Leland, some random thoughts - presuming, of course, that resistance is not a manifestation of another problem...as Angela alludes to 1) The administrative
            Message 5 of 13 , Nov 18, 2008
              Leland,

              some random thoughts - presuming, of course, that "resistance" is not a manifestation of another problem...as Angela alludes to

              1) The administrative requirements are so much lower than "waterfall, I am surprised by the feedback
              2) The team should have a working agreement in place that outlines expectations for itself. This would include "reporting" requirements
              3) The administrative burden on my team is minimal, they work completely on stickies. I on, the other hand, check the stickies every day and maintain a spreadsheet to generate story point burn-down & PBI burn-up charts.
              4) We use a short10-day sprint, so using stories as a single measure of progress has its limitations - as far as the team is concerned. So, I generate a second set of charts that track burn-down of hours remaining & task burn-up.

              Regards,
              Doug

              --- On Tue, 11/18/08, Angela Druckman <angela.druckman@...> wrote:
              From: Angela Druckman <angela.druckman@...>
              Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Burndown charts or other ways to report status
              To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008, 4:35 PM

              Hi Leland -
               
              What about it exactly do they resist?  If they simply don't like the adminstrative act of filling out a form, consider gathering all this info in the Daily Scrum and letting the ScrumMaster fill out the burndown charts.  I make it my goal to introduce as little paperwork (electronic or hard copy) to my teams as possible.
               
              More complicated is the issue of not liking the burndown because it shows the whole world how little progress is being made.  If that's why they don't like it, you have a different problem entirely...
               
                   --Angela

               


              From: Leland Newsom <biglnewsom@yahoo. com>
              To: scrumdevelopment@ yahoogroups. com
              Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 1:04:02 PM
              Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Burndown charts or other ways to report status

              We have been transitioning from a waterfall to a more iterative
              process and have been getting some resistance from a few team members
              for filling out the burndown charts. I've been tasked with reviewing
              the burndowns and seeing if there is anyway to improve the project
              reporting. Anyone have any other suggestions for tracking progress
              other than a burndown that we could consider?


            • Alan Dayley
              ... Burndown charts are easy to fill out once one has estimates. This has the smell of something else going on and burndown is getting the blame. Let s
              Message 6 of 13 , Nov 18, 2008
                On Tue, Nov 18, 2008 at 2:04 PM, Leland Newsom <biglnewsom@...> wrote:
                > I've been tasked with reviewing
                > the burndowns and seeing if there is anyway to improve the project
                > reporting.

                Burndown charts are easy to fill out once one has estimates. This has
                the "smell" of something else going on and burndown is getting the
                blame.

                Let's suppose something else is just as effective. What attributes
                would it have?

                - Easy to update. Can even be hand written easily.
                - Highly visible to the team and the stakeholders.
                - Easy to read and understand at a glance.
                - Immediately exposes problems or successes.
                - Can replace constant "How's it going?" questions that disrupt team work.

                I don't know of any other reporting mechanism that can accomplish
                these goals so easily.

                As those who want something else for user stories. "As a <role> I
                want to <do something with project reports> so that I can <get or have
                benefit>." That might help get to the bottom of resistance and help
                learn if something really is missing that the organization needs.

                I suspect you may get to:
                "As a developer I want to spend time making long reports so that I can
                hide behind the complexity if I have problems."
                or
                "As a manager I want detailed project reports so that I can micro-manage."

                I've already heard these answers about anything Scrum that increases
                and simplifies visibility, though not phrased in this way because that
                would be too direct. ;^)

                Alan
              • Ron Jeffries
                Hello, Alan. On Tuesday, November 18, 2008, at 9:13:07 PM, you ... Cards on a board are nice. Columns like Not Started / In Progress / Code Complete /
                Message 7 of 13 , Nov 18, 2008
                  Hello, Alan. On Tuesday, November 18, 2008, at 9:13:07 PM, you
                  wrote:

                  > Let's suppose something else is just as effective. What attributes
                  > would it have?

                  > - Easy to update. Can even be hand written easily.
                  > - Highly visible to the team and the stakeholders.
                  > - Easy to read and understand at a glance.
                  > - Immediately exposes problems or successes.
                  > - Can replace constant "How's it going?" questions that disrupt team work.

                  > I don't know of any other reporting mechanism that can accomplish
                  > these goals so easily.

                  Cards on a board are nice. Columns like

                  Not Started / In Progress / Code Complete / Inspected / Demoed / Done

                  Move 'em across. See what's up.

                  Ron Jeffries
                  www.XProgramming.com
                  www.xprogramming.com/blog
                  Accept your conditions, but not your fate. -- Rod Walsh & Dan Carrison
                • Alan Dayley
                  ... Absolutely use cards on a board, Ron. I agree. The burndown provides the summary of the card summary version of status for those that just want the
                  Message 8 of 13 , Nov 18, 2008
                    On Tue, Nov 18, 2008 at 7:52 PM, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
                    > Hello, Alan. On Tuesday, November 18, 2008, at 9:13:07 PM, you
                    > wrote:
                    >
                    > Cards on a board are nice. Columns like
                    >
                    > Not Started / In Progress / Code Complete / Inspected / Demoed / Done
                    >
                    > Move 'em across. See what's up.

                    Absolutely use cards on a board, Ron. I agree.

                    The burndown provides the "summary of the card summary version" of
                    status for those that just want the headline. Also the cards don't
                    show velocity trends, the effect of distractions and added scope as
                    obviously as a burndown graph does.

                    Burndown and cards together are a powerful combination!

                    Alan
                  • Leland Newsom
                    Thanks for the replies. I m pretty sure that Angela has hit it directly on the head when she said, More complicated is the issue of not liking the burndown
                    Message 9 of 13 , Nov 18, 2008
                      Thanks for the replies. I'm pretty sure that Angela has hit it
                      directly on the head when she said, "More complicated is the issue of
                      not liking the burndown because it shows the whole world how little
                      progress is being made."

                      We now have a meeting on Monday to discuss what other options we have
                      other than the burndown charts. Any suggestions on how to approach
                      this?

                      --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Doug McQuilken
                      <dougmcq000@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Leland,
                      >
                      > some random thoughts - presuming, of course, that "resistance" is
                      not a manifestation of another problem...as Angela alludes to
                      >
                      > 1) The administrative requirements are so much lower
                      than "waterfall, I am surprised by the feedback
                      > 2) The team should have a working agreement in place that outlines
                      expectations for itself. This would include "reporting" requirements
                      > 3) The administrative burden on my team is minimal, they work
                      completely on stickies. I on, the other hand, check the stickies
                      every day and maintain a spreadsheet to generate story point burn-
                      down & PBI burn-up chart.
                      > 4) We use a short10-day sprint, so using stories as a single
                      measure of progress has its limitations - as far as the team is
                      concerned. So, I generate a second set of charts that track burn-down
                      of hours remaining & task burn-up.
                      >
                      > Regards,
                      > Doug
                      >
                      > --- On Tue, 11/18/08, Angela Druckman <angela.druckman@...> wrote:
                      > From: Angela Druckman <angela.druckman@...>
                      > Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Burndown charts or other ways to
                      report status
                      > To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                      > Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008, 4:35 PM
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Hi Leland -
                      >  
                      > What about it exactly do they resist?  If they simply don't like
                      the adminstrative act of filling out a form, consider gathering all
                      this info in the Daily Scrum and letting the ScrumMaster fill out the
                      burndown charts.  I make it my goal to introduce as little paperwork
                      (electronic or hard copy) to my teams as possible.
                      >  
                      > More complicated is the issue of not liking the burndown because it
                      shows the whole world how little progress is being made.  If that's
                      why they don't like it, you have a different problem entirely...
                      >  
                      >      --Angela
                      >
                      >  
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > From: Leland Newsom <biglnewsom@yahoo. com>
                      > To: scrumdevelopment@ yahoogroups. com
                      > Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 1:04:02 PM
                      > Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Burndown charts or other ways to report
                      status
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > We have been transitioning from a waterfall to a more iterative
                      > process and have been getting some resistance from a few team
                      members
                      > for filling out the burndown charts. I've been tasked with
                      reviewing
                      > the burndowns and seeing if there is anyway to improve the project
                      > reporting. Anyone have any other suggestions for tracking progress
                      > other than a burndown that we could consider?
                      >
                    • Leland Newsom
                      I do believe that the burndown is getting the blame for another problem. I have my guess at what the problem is but on Monday, I m meeting with the team
                      Message 10 of 13 , Nov 18, 2008
                        I do believe that the burndown is getting the blame for another
                        problem. I have my guess at what the problem is but on Monday, I'm
                        meeting with the team members who are interested and going to do a
                        root cause analysis to see what the problem reall is.

                        Thanks for the attributes though. They give me something to start
                        with when I define out the attributes of something to replace them.

                        --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "Alan Dayley" <alandd@...>
                        wrote:
                        >
                        > On Tue, Nov 18, 2008 at 2:04 PM, Leland Newsom <biglnewsom@...>
                        wrote:
                        > > I've been tasked with reviewing
                        > > the burndowns and seeing if there is anyway to improve the project
                        > > reporting.
                        >
                        > Burndown charts are easy to fill out once one has estimates. This
                        has
                        > the "smell" of something else going on and burndown is getting the
                        > blame.
                        >
                        > Let's suppose something else is just as effective. What attributes
                        > would it have?
                        >
                        > - Easy to update. Can even be hand written easily.
                        > - Highly visible to the team and the stakeholders.
                        > - Easy to read and understand at a glance.
                        > - Immediately exposes problems or successes.
                        > - Can replace constant "How's it going?" questions that disrupt
                        team work.
                        >
                        > I don't know of any other reporting mechanism that can accomplish
                        > these goals so easily.
                        >
                        > As those who want something else for user stories. "As a <role> I
                        > want to <do something with project reports> so that I can <get or
                        have
                        > benefit>." That might help get to the bottom of resistance and help
                        > learn if something really is missing that the organization needs.
                        >
                        > I suspect you may get to:
                        > "As a developer I want to spend time making long reports so that I
                        can
                        > hide behind the complexity if I have problems."
                        > or
                        > "As a manager I want detailed project reports so that I can micro-
                        manage."
                        >
                        > I've already heard these answers about anything Scrum that increases
                        > and simplifies visibility, though not phrased in this way because
                        that
                        > would be too direct. ;^)
                        >
                        > Alan
                        >
                      • Alan Dayley
                        ... Good news! By using Scrum burndown charts have identified that something is amiss. Either an impediment is slowing the velocity of our development teams
                        Message 11 of 13 , Nov 18, 2008
                          On Tue, Nov 18, 2008 at 8:50 PM, Leland Newsom <biglnewsom@...> wrote:
                          > Thanks for the replies. I'm pretty sure that Angela has hit it
                          > directly on the head when she said, "More complicated is the issue of
                          > not liking the burndown because it shows the whole world how little
                          > progress is being made."
                          >
                          > We now have a meeting on Monday to discuss what other options we have
                          > other than the burndown charts. Any suggestions on how to approach
                          > this?

                          "Good news! By using Scrum burndown charts have identified that
                          something is amiss. Either an impediment is slowing the velocity of
                          our development teams or our velocity and estimates are off or
                          something else is going on that we need to fix. It's great to have
                          tools that show us when there is an issue. Let's work to find the
                          root cause and fix it!"

                          Now, back to reality.

                          Make a progress report product backlog. Prioritize it and estimate
                          effort to implement it. Compare to what the burndown provides. Is
                          the extra value of whatever else worth the extra effort?

                          Alan
                        • Angela Druckman
                          Ah, so now is the time you need to decide if you want to apply a band-aid or go for a cure.. You can spend a lot of time talking around the issue and coming up
                          Message 12 of 13 , Nov 19, 2008
                            Ah, so now is the time you need to decide if you want to apply a band-aid or go for a cure..
                             
                            You can spend a lot of time talking around the issue and coming up with new, fancy charts that delightfully obscure what is really going on (thereby making your team feel comfortable again)
                             
                            or...
                             
                            You can explain the purpose of the burndown and why it is important to always have a visual representation of the work completed vs. work left to complete. 
                             
                            Maybe a physical task board, as Ron suggested, would be less threatening to them?  In any case, if they are on a Scrum project, they need to be willing to play by Scrum rules.  You can't bring a group of people together to play soccer and have 1/2 of them follow the rules of rugby instead.  Why should it be any different in software development???
                             
                            Delivering fun messages like this is why ScrumMasters need to develop mental body armor  :)
                             
                                 --Angela

                             


                            From: Leland Newsom <biglnewsom@...>
                            To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 7:50:10 PM
                            Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Re: Burndown charts or other ways to report status

                            Thanks for the replies. I'm pretty sure that Angela has hit it
                            directly on the head when she said, "More complicated is the issue of
                            not liking the burndown because it shows the whole world how little
                            progress is being made."

                            We now have a meeting on Monday to discuss what other options we have
                            other than the burndown charts. Any suggestions on how to approach
                            this?

                            --- In scrumdevelopment@ yahoogroups. com, Doug McQuilken
                            <dougmcq000@ ...> wrote:

                            >
                            > Leland,
                            >
                            > some random thoughts - presuming, of course, that "resistance" is
                            not a manifestation of another problem...as Angela alludes to
                            >
                            > 1) The administrative requirements are so much lower
                            than "waterfall, I am surprised by the feedback
                            > 2) The team should have a
                            working agreement in place that outlines
                            expectations for itself. This would include "reporting" requirements
                            > 3) The administrative burden on my team is minimal, they work
                            completely on stickies. I on, the other hand, check the stickies
                            every day and maintain a spreadsheet to generate story point burn-
                            down & PBI burn-up chart.
                            > 4) We use a short10-day sprint, so using stories as a single
                            measure of progress has its limitations - as far as the team is
                            concerned. So, I generate a second set of charts that track burn-down
                            of hours remaining & task burn-up.
                            >
                            > Regards,
                            > Doug
                            >
                            > --- On Tue, 11/18/08, Angela Druckman <angela.druckman@ ...> wrote:
                            > From: Angela Druckman <angela.druckman@ ...>
                            > Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Burndown charts or other ways to
                            report status
                            > To:
                            target=_blank rel=nofollow ymailto="mailto:scrumdevelopment%40yahoogroups.com">scrumdevelopment@ yahoogroups. com
                            > Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008, 4:35 PM
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > Hi Leland -
                            >  
                            > What about it exactly do they resist?  If they simply don't like
                            the adminstrative act of filling out a form, consider gathering all
                            this info in the Daily Scrum and letting the ScrumMaster fill out the
                            burndown charts.  I make it my goal to introduce as little paperwork
                            (electronic or hard copy) to my teams as possible.
                            >  
                            > More complicated is the issue of not liking the burndown because it
                            shows the whole world how little progress is being made.  If that's
                            why they don't like it, you have a different problem entirely...
                            >  
                            >      --Angela
                            >
                            >  
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > From: Leland Newsom <biglnewsom@ yahoo. com>
                            > To: scrumdevelopment@ yahoogroups. com
                            > Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 1:04:02 PM
                            > Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Burndown charts or other ways to report
                            status
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > We have been transitioning from a waterfall to a more iterative
                            > process and have been getting some resistance from a few team
                            members
                            > for filling out the burndown charts. I've been tasked with
                            reviewing
                            > the burndowns and seeing if there is anyway to improve the project
                            > reporting. Anyone have any other suggestions for tracking progress
                            > other than a burndown that we could consider?
                            >


                          • mike.dwyer1@comcast.net
                            What is there resistance? Is it Not getting 80 percent credit for being 20 percent short of DONE? If so then you know what the problem is - and go correct
                            Message 13 of 13 , Nov 20, 2008
                              What is there resistance? Is it Not getting 80 percent credit for being 20 percent short of DONE?
                              If so then you know what the problem is - and go correct that.
                              The simplest way is to NOT be the clerk. Let them fill it out during the daily meeting when they say how much they estimate they have left to do. When that doesn't go down call an impediment and find out why

                              Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


                              From: "Leland Newsom" <biglnewsom@...>
                              Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2008 21:04:02 -0000
                              To: <scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com>
                              Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Burndown charts or other ways to report status

                              We have been transitioning from a waterfall to a more iterative
                              process and have been getting some resistance from a few team members
                              for filling out the burndown charts. I've been tasked with reviewing
                              the burndowns and seeing if there is anyway to improve the project
                              reporting. Anyone have any other suggestions for tracking progress
                              other than a burndown that we could consider?

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