Build It Up Scotty

How BuildUp Charts Improve Your Scrum Team’s Inspecting and Adapting

Scrum is a lightweight framework used to complete complex work. Scrum opens the door to greater collaboration and transparency by providing artifacts that help a Team find the best way to build the right product at the right time. These artifacts foster better inspecting and adapting of the product vision, delivering greater value to the Stakeholders. And, to pay homage to Trekkie Scrum Practitioners everywhere, these artifacts aid in boldly going where no Scrum Team has gone before.

Burning and Building

Which brings us to the topic of burning and building. Historically, Scrum Teams monitored their efforts using a Burndown Chart, which tracked task completion. What did it really track? Team Members doing busy work. Does that sound Scrummy to you? Not at all. Burndown Charts are decidedly predictive and not at all agile. And, most importantly, not helpful to what the Team really should be doing, which is building a product.

We recommend using a BuildUp Chart to gain a more accurate snapshot of how the Team is really doing throughout the Sprint. The BuildUp Chart’s focus is on the Doneness Agreements that were made during Sprint Planning. After all, that’s what the Team agreed to actually do. And the BuildUp accurately reflects development of the product (not just busy work the Team may have been doing), which is something of value that the Stakeholders want to see.


How To Make a BuildUp Chart

It’s simple. We convert the Doneness Agreement for each Story into a checklist. All items on the checklist must be checked off in order for the Story to be completed. The Team’s progress can easily be measured by counting up the number of checked off items and comparing it to the total number of checklist items in the Sprint. Then, graph it. Chart the dates (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 of the Sprint) on the horizontal axis against the cumulative number of completed checklist items on the vertical axis. Add the total number of checklist items for the Sprint as a line across the top, to show what the graph is climbing toward.


The BuildUp Chart should summarize the Sprint based on accumulated value. A good BuildUp Chart will be able to answer the Team’s questions, “How much will we finish?” and “Are we on track?” Both answers will nicely help the Team and the Stakeholders inspect and adapt.

A Sprint by no means is the final frontier. But, it is part of your Scrum Team’s voyage. And, while you may not explore strange new worlds or seek out new life and new civilizations per se, utilizing BuildUp Charts will assist your Scrum Team in successfully completing your mission.

Build it up, Scotty! And, As Always, Stay Agile.