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SCRUM – Cumulative Flow Chart Analysis

José Gramaglia


August 23rd, 2012

In speaking about Scrum, it’s not uncommon to hear about the Burndown chart.  However, we should also pay attention to other charts which can provide complementary information.  Specifically, the Cumulative Flow Chart helps us to get a single review on the health of the Scrum process.

Here is a typical Cumulative Flow Chart.

Cumulative Flow Chart

Analyzing this chart, we can answer the following questions:

  • Are we planning properly?
    • If the “To Do” shape looks like Figure 1 then we can say we are planning properly.  This looks right since we are planning at the beginning of the sprint, and then we added a few items during the sprint.

      Figure 1
    • On the other hand if “To Do” shape looks like Figure 2,  we may have problems.  It could mean that we weren’t a good planning at the beginning of the sprint and we added tasks while we transited the sprint.

      Figure 2
  • Are we executing task properly?
    • Well, in this case we need to take a look to the “In Progress” shape (Showed in blue). If it looks like Figure 3,  we are in the ideal scenario. We are putting in progress tasks gradually, and the last ones were moved to  “In Progress” a couple days before the end of the sprint.

      Figure 3
    • On the other hand, if it looks like Figure 4,  we likely have a problem.  This may show that we are NOT following the principle of “Minimize the work in progress,” or we are doing all the tasks at the same time and loosing track of the project.

      Figure 4
    • Also if this shape looks like Figure 5,  we may show problems again. It may be a symptom that people aren’t updating the Issue tracker tool daily, but instead  doing it the last day of the sprint.

      Figure 5

 

  • Are we testing in an agile way?
    • If “Ready for test” and “Done” (Green in the graphic) shapes  closely follow closely the “To Do” (purple in the graphic) shape, as in Figure 6 example,  then we are OK since it reflect that on each day we are developing, testing and flagging as “Done our tasks” and “User Stories.”

      Figure 6
    • If the Chart looks like Figure 7,  it could mean that developers are not delivering things on time to allow QA to test the product properly, and eventually the purple section could disappear or be even smaller if QA doesn’t have the time to approve each “User Story.”

      Figure 7

 

As a general approach,  all of this analysis I have exposed could be symptoms of potential sicknesses in the process, and should trigger discussion with the team. However, it’s important that each never be considered in isolation of other data.

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