With this post I share with you a template for creating a simple Release Burndown Chart.

The chart was originally described by Mike Cohn as the alternative release burn down and shows some additional information in comparison to the default burn down chart.

The story burn down is displayed at the top line. As soon as stories are done it burns down. The green line shows the trend.

As soon as stories are added the bottom grows to the negative (you can see it at the 3rd bar where in total 2 stories were added). If stories are removed (scope gets reduced) the chart grows to the positive at the bottom (see the 4th bar where in total 6 stories got removed from the release).

The point where the top and bottom trend line cross each other indicates the iteration when the release will be finished.

To create the chart please fill the given table this way (see the example picture below). Define the initial backlog size in the Initial story total column. Add your sprints in the Sprint column.

At the end of each sprint fill

  • the Sprint Done column with the amount of stories completed, 
  • the Backlog New column with the number of stories added and 
  • the Backlog Removed column with the number of stories de-scoped. 

You can either use the number of stories completed or story points done. As I favor the #NoEstimates approach I’m using the number of stories 😉

Download the Release Burndown Chart. It is available for OpenOffice and LibreOffice but not (yet) compatible with Excel as unfortunately the diagram building works differently.

When to use it?

We show the chart in our reviews to provide an overview for our stakeholders. 
In addition we add the chart highly visible to our story map to support the visualization of our current status. This way we can immediately discuss, what was added, done and removed from the release and  whether scope changes are necessary.
Have fun visualizing your release state and thanks for your feedback with your comment!