Burndown and Burnup Charts: What They Are, and What Are the Differences

Efficient project management is the desire of every leader, regardless of the sector. When we talk about technology and development, the importance of management is even more evident: services that are difficult to measure time, unpredictability of changes and other recurring obstacles.

Whoever suffers from the pains of project management needs tools to help make information clear and palpable, so that they can serve as a parameter for decisions and new processes for team members.

A very functional way of measuring and analyzing your team’s performance is the burndown and burnup graphics tool . These graphics are part of Scrum and can help – a lot – in understanding the processes of your project. Understand what they are, their differences and how they apply.


Burndown and Burnup graphics

Burndown and burnup are graphs that help managers to follow the team’s progress on projects, considering time, effort and delivery time. The burndown and burnup charts allow the proposed agenda for some activity to be observed and evaluated, revealing when any delays occurred and what the implications were for the project schedule. These charts are Scrum tools for agile design methodology teams.


Scrum is a set of agile best practices for managing high performance projects. For you to understand in all details, you can check the material we prepared only on Scrum , but in summary you should know that Scrum organizes the processes and the team in sprints , which are periods of 2 to 4 weeks, usually marked by delivery some functionality of the software or system under development (considering this area in the example).

The differences between the burndown and burnup charts are mainly in the way the data is presented. For project management, the use of both can directly help leaders and teams to analyze their planning follow-up capabilities.

Using both graphs well can answer questions such as: how much is my team capable of delivering? What deadlines can we meet? How much can we plan our activities and how can we make this planning more realistic?


But what is each of these graphs? Keep reading and find out!


What is the Burndown chart

The burndown chart (which means in free translation burning down ) is formed by two axes: the Y axis (vertical), which represents the demand for work to be burned ; and the X axis (horizontal), which represents time – the number of days or hours of work to burn demand.

his graph is represented in two lines. The first is the ideal line , straight, from top to bottom, which represents the complete demand for work at the beginning of the project (at the top, on the left) and which goes to the lowest point on the right, where the forecast for completion of the project is. project on schedule.


The second is the real line , which reveals how the team behaved in relation to the projection of time use for demand. In general, the real line is in one of three possibilities:


  1. Endless line: it passes far from the outline of the ideal line, oscillating outside the direction of the project schedule. And the worst: it never reaches the zero point, that is, it represents that the team did not fulfill the planning (which in itself already shows that a change in the project management is necessary). The endless line is usually caused by changes whose time has not been put on the schedule, disunity of team members or unrealistic expectations of performance;
  2. Unstable line: reaches the zero point and meets the deadline, but its execution includes instability in relation to the planned one, as it curves away from the ideal line. It usually indicates that a team member may have missed a deadline, some lack of updated estimates or some isolated fact with the team;
  3. Real-ideal line: not with the same precision as the ideal line, the straight flow follows with slight variations towards the deadline and the fulfillment of demands. It is the representation of a well-planned project and of a team that fulfills the steps proposed by the management.


The burndown chart reveals not only whether the deadline has been met or not, but mainly how the team handled the flow of activities during the sprint (or other predetermined time period). When used well, this chart is a guide for the leader to offer the team a real plan for each part of the project.


Especially with regard to IT (Information Technology) projects, identifying problems and presenting solutions, as we presented in a post just about it , it is essential for your team to not only visualize the data of the graphs, but seek to understand them really .


What is the Burnup Graph

The burnup chart shows, as well as the burndown chart, the point of the schedule with the planned delivery time (represented on the X axis, horizontal). The difference is that the vertical Y-axis (which represents deliveries) shows where the team is along the sprint, revealing how much progress has been made while the line goes up (burning upwards) towards the end point.

A differential of the burnup chart is that it is possible to make a projection about the schedule. Considering week by week, it is possible to analyze how much the line has already burned upwards and how much remains to go up in the planning, allowing a projection of compliance and possible necessary adjustments.


The central difference is in the way the data is delivered. It is up to the project leader to view the graphs and understand which one helps best in each stage of management (presentation to the client, work with the team, accountability to management, etc.).


Now that you have seen how burndown and burnup graphics can help in planning your project, take the opportunity to learn even more with our e-book Everything you need to know to optimize IT Project Management . A complete guide for you to revolutionize your project management practices!

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