How to Create a Burndown Chart in Excel?

In Agile project management, it is crucial to get a clear picture of the project’s reality. Hence, one of the best ways is to visualize the progress.

A Burndown chart is a project management chart that shows the remaining work needed to reach project completion over time.

Let’s understand how can you create a burndown chart in Excel:

What is a Burndown Chart?

A Burndown chart visually represents teams’ or projects’ progress over time. It analyzes their pace, reflects progress, and determines if they are on track to complete it on time.

Burndown charts are generally of three types:

Product Burndown Chart

The product burndown chart focuses on the big picture and visualizes the entire project. It determines how many product goals the development team has achieved so far and the remaining work.

Sprint Burndown Chart

Sprint burndown charts focus on the ongoing sprints. It indicates progress towards completing the sprint backlog.

Epic Burndown Chart

This chart focuses on how your team is performing against the work in the epic over time. It helps to track the advancement of major deliverables within a project.

Components of Burndown Chart


A burndown chart has two axes: X and Y. The horizontal axis represents the time or iteration and the vertical axis displays user story points.

Ideal Work Remaining

It is the diagonal line sloping downwards that represents the remaining work a team has at a specific point of the project or sprint under ideal conditions.

Actual Work Remaining

It is a realistic depiction of the team’s performance that is updated in real-time. It is drawn as the teams progress and complete user stories.  

Story Points

Each point on the work lines displays a measurement of work remaining at a given time.

Project/Sprint End

It is the rightmost point of your burndown chart that represents whether the team has completed a project/sprint on time, behind, or ahead of schedule.

Benefits of Burndown Chart

Visual Representation of Work

A Burndown chart helps in keeping an eye on teams’ work progress visually. This is not only simple to use but also motivates the team to perform well.

Shows a Direct Comparison

A burndown chart is useful to show the direct comparison between planned work and actual progress over time. This helps in quickly assessing whether the team is on track to meet its goals.

Better Team Productivity

A burndown chart acts as a tool for inspiration. Such types of charts transparently show the progress and work efficiency. Hence, improving the collaboration and cooperation between team members.

Quickly Identifies or Spots Blockers

A burndown chart must be updated daily. This helps in tracking progress in real-time, identifying problems in early stages hence, assisting in completing the project on time.

How to Create a Burndown Chart in Excel?

Step 1: Create Your Table

Open a new sheet in Excel and create a new table that includes 3 columns.

The first column should include the dates of each sprint, the second column have the ideal burndown i.e. ideal rate at which work will be completed and the last column should have the actual burndown i.e. updating them as story points get completed.

Step 2: Add Data in these Columns

Now, fill in the data accordingly. This includes the dates of your sprints and numbers in the Ideal Burndown column indicating the desired number of tasks remaining after each day throughout the let’s say, 10-day sprint.

As you complete tasks each day, update the spreadsheet to document the number of tasks you can finish under the ‘Actual Burndown’ column.

Step 3: Create a Burndown Chart

Now, it’s time to convert the data into a graph. To create a chart, follow these steps: Select the three columns > Click ‘Insert’ on the menu bar > Select the ‘Line chart’ icon, and generate a line graph to visualize the different data points you have in your chart.

How to Use a Burndown Chart in the Best Possible Way?

Determine the Project Scope

Study project scope and divide the projects or sprints into short-term tasks. Ensure to review them and estimate the time required to complete each task based on the project deadline.

Check the Chart Often

The Scrum master must check the chart often and update it daily. It helps to understand the flagging trends, know the pitfalls, and ensure it aligns with the expectations.

Pay Attention to the Outcome

Don’t lose sight of the outcome. By focusing on it, software development teams can ensure they are making progress toward their goals and adjust their efforts accordingly to stay on track for successful project completion.

Don’t Put in Weekends

Teams pause the work during weekends or holidays. Excluding weekends provides accuracy by focusing solely on the days when active work is being done hence giving a clearer representation of progress and highlighting the team’s actual productivity levels during working days.

Encourage Team Ownership

Burndown chart, when accessible to the entire team, fosters collaboration and accountability. It gives them a sense of ownership to discuss points to address challenges and celebrate achievements.

Limitations of a Burndown Chart

A burndown chart is great for evaluating the ratio of work remaining and the time it takes to complete the work. However, relying solely on a burndown chart is not the right way due to certain limitations.

A Time-Consuming and Manual Process

Although creating a burndown chart in Excel is easy, entering data manually requires more time and effort. This makes the work repetitive and tiresome after a certain point.

There are various tools available in the market that offer collaboration and automation features including Jira, Trello, and Asana.

It Doesn’t Give Insights into the Types of Issues

The Burndown chart helps in tracking the progress of completing tasks or user stories over time within a sprint or iteration. But, it doesn’t provide insights about the specific types of issues or tasks being worked on. It includes shipping new features, determining technical debt, and so on.

It Gives Equal Weight to all the Tasks

A burndown chart doesn’t differentiate between an easy and difficult task. It considers all of them equal, regardless of their size, complexity, or effort required to complete it. Hence, leading to ineffective outlines of project progress. This further potentially masks critical issues and hinders project management efforts.

As a result, the burndown chart is not a reliable metric engineering leaders can solely trust. It is always better to complement it with sprint analysis tools to provide additional insights tailored to agile project management. A few of the reasons are stated below:

  • Sprint analysis software can offer a wider range of metrics such as velocity, cycle time, throughput, and cumulative flow diagrams to provide a more comprehensive understanding of team performance and process efficiency.
  • These tools typically offer customization options to tailor metrics and reports according to the team’s specific needs and preferences.
  • They are designed with Agile principles in mind which incorporate concepts such as iterative improvement, feedback loops, and continuous delivery.

Typo - An Effective Sprint Analysis Tool

Typo’s sprint analysis feature allows engineering leaders to track and analyze their team’s progress throughout a sprint. It uses data from Git and the issue management tool to provide insights into getting insights on how much work has been completed, how much work is still in progress, and how much time is left in the sprint hence, identifying any potential problems early on and taking corrective action.

Screenshot 2024-05-11 at 9.58.10 PM.png

Key Features:

  • A velocity chart shows how much work has been completed in previous sprints.
  • A sprint backlog that shows all of the work that needs to be completed in the sprint.
  • A list of sprint issues that shows the status of each issue.
  • Time tracking to See how long tasks are taking.
  • Blockage tracking to check how often tasks are being blocked, and what the causes of those blocks are.
  • Bottleneck identification to identify areas where work is slowing down.
  • Historical data analysis to compare sprint data over time.