Including Sub-tasks in Burndown Chart

I have seen a few questions on this, but they seem to involve 'story points' which we don't use.

Our sprints are typically made up of a number of parent stories, which are split up into sub-tasks that are given estimates (typically a day or less). The stories normally have no estimate, but that's fine as Jira will total up the sub-task estimates and show that against the parent.

The use of sub-tasks is great for the kind of work we do, which is difficult to isolate into single stand-alone estimable stories. Subtasks can be completed daily, whereas the parent story may last a week, or even the entire sprint.

The problem is, the burndown chart (set to 'original time estimate') only seems to tick down when a parent story is completed. Further, that tick down is represented by a single drop on the day of parent story completion, of the total combined sub-task estimates.

So you can imagine, our burndown charts look like nothing has been done until the final days of the sprint, when the last sub-task of the various stories is completed, and we can close off the entire stories.

What I would prefer is either:

  1. Sub-tasks tick down the burndown chart as they are completed, or if that's not possible...
  2. ...when a parent story is completed, rather than ticking down the chart by the combined sub-tasks estimates on the date of parent story completion, it retrospectively ticks down the chart on the dates the sub-tasks were completed.

Are either of these possible in Jira? If not, I sort of wonder what the point of subtasks are, if their completion don't count in the burndown? How can we record the work we do in a way that Jira can understand?

Thanks!

Chris

1 answer

Hi,

In the scrum methodology one of the goals is to give a shippable version at the end of each sprint. It means that every story has to be fully completed before it is considered as "Done". Quality is important so you can't ship a functionality that is 1/2 or 3/4 done. That's what the burndown chart is showing: if a subtask within your story is not complete then you can't ship this functionality then it's like you did nothing.

If you want more visibility on the completion including subtask you can use the "Issue statistic" gadget on your dashboard with "Sprint" as statistic type and including resolved issues.

Otherwise you can also explore some add-ons like Eazy BI , All-In-One reports , ...


In the scrum methodology one of the goals is to give a shippable version at the end of each sprint. It means that every story has to be fully completed before it is considered as "Done". Quality is important so you can't ship a functionality that is 1/2 or 3/4 done. That's what the burndown chart is showing: if a subtask within your story is not complete then you can't ship this functionality then it's like you did nothing.

I like this explanation! But what bothers me is that the burndown chart isn't presented in this manner in Jira when you have the Y axis as "Original Time Estimate", which is explained: "Track the total work remaining and project the likelihood of achieving the sprint goal. This helps your team manage its progress and respond accordingly."

By this description, completing subtasks should in fact reduce the "Total Work Remaining" as our "Original Time Estimates" are merely Jira's summation of the sub-task estimates, and therefore I think should be reduced by each sub-task's estimate, every time one is completed. Right?

What you say could make sense but it's not the way burndown charts are used (in Jira or outside of Jira).  :-)

If you have 6 stories of equivalent points in your sprint, you completed 2 of them, then you did one third of the work (even if you did 90% of the subtasks of the 4 uncomplete stories). Because your customers will only get 2 stories. Burndown charts show this, what the customers can actually get at the end of the sprint.

If you want other metrics then it's better to use other reports. See my previous comment for some suggestions ;-) 

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