Chris Croft's Personal Blog

September 18, 2012

SCRUM burn down chart question

Filed under: Project Management — Tags: , , — chriscroft @ 9:18 am

SCRUM burn down chart question

Does anyone out there know about the trendy ‘agile’ project management methodology scrum? I’ve looked into it a little bit and It seems to me that a lot of it is just rebranding of exisiting ideas to make them sound more exciting – e.g the project manager is called a scrum master. Oh Per-lease…. So my question is: Is a burn-down chart (see photo attached, showing hours of work remaining to be done against time remaining) really just the same as a conventional cumulative spend chart? – or have I missed the point? If I have missed something then great, I’d love to learn a better way. Let me know!



  1. Well, one’s demoninated in pounds and one’s in hours.

    Two thoughts from me, the least disciplined person in the world

    1) The scrum chart has no similarity to a scrum, BUT when you count down to zero it does create a sense of doom associated with missing the target that is not there when you show the spending mounting upwards. An overrun is one thing, but going NEGATIVE is quite another.

    2) How would you structure a measure that showed the depletion over time of TOTAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE? If you’re running short of time, that may be remediable if you have extra money to throw at an issue. (eg: expand the number of remaining hours by adding people to the budget). So your resource remaining is a combination of TIME + MONEY. This is not en easy idea to capture, but my analogy is the Duckworth-Lewis method of adjusting cricket targets after rain delays. It contains the idea that at any given time the resources available to a batting team are its remaining overs and its remaining wickets. Do some reading on the DLM, and see if you can use that insight to come up with a Duckworth-Croft method for tracking the total resource remaining to a project team.


    Comment by Martin R Herrington — September 18, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

    • Great comments Martin!
      Yes one is hours worked (but they are money really) and yes, psychologically different I guess. But still bascially the same underneath, or at least, not a radical new creation as SCRUM would claim.
      I love the way cricket has the answers…..
      I’ve just googled DL and it’s fascinating. Maybe achieving quality (= winning the match) could be seen as using up the two resources of people (wickets) and time (overs remaining), and maybe the DL multiple curves can be used to show the various options once a project is half way through, running late. and/or overspending.

      I suppose the cricket question is “What’s the slowest run rate that will allow us to reach the target score just before we run out of time?” since slowest rate = least wickets. (Equivalent of Finishing the job within the timescale for minimum cost). Or.. what’s the most runs we can get with our remaining wickets such that we just run out of wickets at the end? (equivalent of Best quality for the money, within the timescale). In cricket you can’t have more time, but in PM that is sometimes the best choice.

      More thought needed by me, I think!


      PS – Wiki also says “The Duckworth Lewis Method” is the name of a band formed by Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy and Thomas Walsh of Pugwash, which recorded a self-titled concept album of cricket songs.

      Comment by chriscroft — September 18, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

  2. Scrum manager. Tosh.

    May be a bit out of date on this subject however I still think the graphical analysis you taught us back in the day – to determine whether the PM is in the DPZ – was classic.

    Comment by Wizzard Prang — September 30, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

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