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How to use burndown to increase agile and devops

How to Use Burndown to Increase the Success of Your Agile and DevOps Practice

Three factors are critical to the success of any project implementation: people, processes, and technology. A deficiency in any one of these elements will upset the balance and threaten the success of your project. But, how do you tell when there is a problem? This is where burndown can help. 

What is Burndown?

In agile software development methodology, product owners define user stories. Architects, administrators, and developers take the user story and design and deploy useable product features. Each story, and its associated tasks, are sized by how much time they will take to complete — stories are sized by points, with one-point equivalent to one day’s work for a developer, and tasks are sized by the hours they will take to finish. Work on the story and tasks is combined into finite timeboxes called sprints.

Burndown is the rate at which stories and tasks are completed. Agile project management systems, such as JIRA and Rally (formerly CA Agile Central), can visually depict burndown. Ideally, a burndown graph will show a steady downward sloping line that ends at the completion of the sprint. 

OK, So What if my Burndown Looks Like a Cliff or is Janky? 

A burndown graph that doesn’t show a steady downward sloping line is typical of fledgling agile implementations. Generally, burndown improves after a few sprint iterations. However, if you don’t see improvement and your burndown looks like a cliff or is janky, it’s time to look for bottlenecks.

Accounting for every task in a sprint is vital, as it will help identify where bottlenecks lie. For instance, if you see that development isn’t starting until late in the sprint, you may need to look for bottlenecks in your processes and team structure — perhaps business users are taking too long to respond to inquiries or stories might not be clearly defined. Similarly, if you are using changesets to migrate changes, you may see tasks being completed successfully until it comes to moving changes across environments. This is where a continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) solution like AutoRABIT can help. 

Why is it Important to Identify Bottlenecks? 

A successful project requires a sustainable balance between people, processes, and technology and a predictable flow, as stories and tasks are completed throughout the sprint. If teams are not following processes correctly, it will put a strain on the technology. If the technology is not delivering, people and processes become stressed — which often results in people allocating blame. If processes are not clearly defined and adhered to, technology and people will become strained. Ultimately, overextended resources add an element of unpredictability to your project that can lead to bottlenecks and unproductive blaming as people become frustrated with the delays. This can cause substantial roadblocks for your project.

How can AutoRABIT help? 

AutoRABIT is a complete CI/CD solution that integrates Salesforce with agile management systems like JIRA and version control systems, including Git. AutoRABIT streamlines processes and automates activities, enabling you to complete deployment tasks for a story across different environments, from development all the way to production. Developers check their changes and link them to user stories, improving documentation and traceability while reducing effort. AutoRABIT is built on the combined expertise gained from many agile and DevOps implementations, enabling us to help guide your CI/CD project to success.

Jacques Grillot is an Enterprise Architect at AutoRABIT. Feel free to contact him on LinkedIn.

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