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Burn-Up Chart

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  1. 1. What Is a Burn-Up Chart?
  2. 2. Burn Up vs Burndown Chart
  3. 3. What Are the Benefits of a Burn-Up Chart?
  4. 4. Related Terms/Concepts
  5. 5. Conclusion
  6. 6. Frequently Asked Questions About Burn-Up Chart

Definition: A burn-up chart is a visual tool that displays the total amount of work done in relation to the total project scope over time, often used in agile methodologies to track progress toward completion.

A burn-up chart is an essential tool in project management that clearly represents a project’s progress. It helps teams and stakeholders understand how much work has been completed and how much remains. This can be particularly useful in managing expectations and providing transparency.

What Is a Burn-Up Chart?

A burn-up chart shows the total work done against the project’s scope over time, providing a straightforward view of the project’s progress. The chart typically consists of two lines: one representing the total amount of work completed and the other the estimated total work required for the project.

The burn-up chart is an effective way to communicate progress to stakeholders and the project team. It can be used to identify when the scope of a project has changed, as increases in the total project work line will indicate new work has been added. Regularly updating the burn-up chart helps keep everyone aligned on the project’s trajectory and facilitates the management of scope changes.

Burn Up vs Burndown Chart

The key difference between a burn-up and a burndown chart lies in how they convey the project’s progress and scope. A burn-up chart shows the progress made towards the total scope, highlighting any changes in the project’s scope and providing a clear line of sight to completion.

It consists of two lines: the ‘scope’ line that represents the total amount of work estimated, and the ‘completed work’ line showing the progress made.

In contrast, a burndown chart reflects how much work remains to be done and does not explicitly show scope changes. It usually has only one line that starts with the initial project scope and trends downward as work is completed.

This can sometimes lead to misinterpretation of progress if the project scope increases because the chart may show a rise in the remaining work, without clearly distinguishing whether this is due to added work or slow progress.

What Are the Benefits of a Burn-Up Chart?

Burn-up charts offer several advantages in project management:

  • Transparency: They provide a visual representation of progress and scope changes, making it easier for stakeholders to understand where the project stands.
  • Scope Management: Burn-up charts effectively show when additional work has been added to the project, helping manage and communicate scope adjustments.
  • Motivation: Visualizing the amount of work completed can be motivating for teams, as they can see the direct impact of their efforts.
  • Forecasting: By tracking the rate of progress, project managers can better predict when the project will be completed, aiding in effective planning and resource allocation.
  • Clarity of Completion: Unlike burndown charts, which can be ambiguous when scope changes, burn-up charts clearly indicate how much work has been done in relation to the end goal.
  • Agile Project Management: A methodology that emphasizes iterative development, where burn-up charts are often used.
  • Iteration: A time-boxed period during which specific work has to be completed, commonly visualized using burn-up charts.
  • Scrum: An agile framework for managing complex projects, which often utilizes burn-up charts to track sprint progress.
  • Project Scope: The part of project planning that involves determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs, and deadlines.


Burn-up charts an indispensable asset in the project management landscape, particularly within agile environments. They not only foster a culture of transparency and open communication but also serve as a beacon, guiding teams toward project completion with a clear understanding of progress and scope.

The ability to adapt to scope changes, provide motivational milestones, and assist in accurate forecasting distinguishes burn-up charts as a preferred choice for many project managers. As such, embracing burn-up charts can lead to more informed decision-making and a smoother journey to project success.

Frequently Asked Questions About Burn-Up Chart

Can a Burn-Up Chart Show Project Delays?

A burn-up chart may not explicitly show delays, but it can indicate a lag in progress if the ‘completed work’ line does not track towards the ‘total work’ line as expected. Comparing planned progress against actual progress can help identify delays.

How Often Should a Burn-Up Chart Be Updated?

A burn-up chart should be updated regularly, typically after each work cycle, sprint, or iteration, to reflect the most current state of the project.

Can Burn-Up Charts Be Used in Non-Agile Projects?

Yes, burn-up charts can be used in any project management methodology, although they are most commonly associated with agile practices. They are a versatile tool for visualizing progress and scope changes.

Is a Burn-Up Chart Suitable for Small Projects?

Burn-up charts are suitable for projects of any size. For small projects, they can provide a quick visual reference to track progress and manage scope changes effectively.

How Do Scope Changes Appear in a Burn-Up Chart?

Scope changes in a burn-up chart appear as changes in the ‘total work’ line. If more work is added to the project, this line will rise, making it clear that the project scope has increased.

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