Scrum agile projects make progress in short iterations of time which are not more than a month long. These iterations are called sprints. A sprint starts by team members committing to deliver some number of features that were listed on the project’s product backlog. The product backlog is the complete list of functionalities. This remains to be added to the product and it is often populated with user stories.
A user story is a short, simple description of a feature told from the perspective of the person who desires the new capability, usually a user or customer of the system. On the first day of the sprint and during the sprint planning meeting, the team members create the sprint backlog. A sprint backlog contains the list of things that will be “done” during the sprint. Keeping the sprint backlog updated is key as it not only allows to work out how fast a team can work, but also acts as an early warning indicator.
Two other primary artifacts are the sprint burndown chart and release burndown chart which are used to represent “work done”. These charts ideally should demonstrate a steady drive to zero hours remaining. These graphs may not be a perfect straight line as the time taken to complete different tasks may not be uniform.
When these features are coded, tested and integrated into the evolving product or system they are marked as “done” and the sprint ends. After the end of the sprint a sprint review is conducted during which the team demonstrates the new functionality to the product owner and other interested stakeholders who provide the feedback which can influence the next sprint. These charts are required to finish all the planned work finished by the desired date and provide an effective tool to easily determine whether a sprint or release is on schedule.