A Simple Task Burndown with TFS 2015

I work with and for a Scrum team that is only estimating effort associated to their Product Backlog Items (PBIs). This team is still quite young so I orientated them to break down the work into tasks so they can share a common view of what to do for each PBI. They were fine estimating an effort for their PBIs but not for the tasks as they didn’t want to talk about hours. After few sprints and after some time their velocity looks quite stable but the last week of each sprint was usually a mess. The only bad indicator during their sprints was they weren’t able to see when they were going to land the sprint and get the work done. Their impossibility to see the rate at which they were accomplishing the work was really missing and the only way to see that was to look at the task board and visually estimate their progress depending on the number of task on each of the three columns (To Do / In Progress / Done).

The team was using TFS 2015 and as you may know the task burndown is only working with tasks estimated in hours. Not a solution here. So here are few steps to create your own task burndown with TFS 2015.

  1. Go to to your TFS Team Project with your favorite browser
  2. Click on the Work tab, then select the Queries sub tab.
  3. On the left of the Shared Queries click on the mouse over arrow and select New Query.
    tfstaskburndow01
  4. Create and save the query as shown below
    tfstaskburndown1
  5. Now put your mouse over the created Shared query on the left and click on the arrow then select Add to Team Favorites.
    tfstaskburndow0
  6. Go back to your TFS Team Project home page. And click on the green plus icon at the bottow right of the screen. (mouse over the blue pencil to see it).
  7. Select the Chart for Work Items widget and click on Add.
    tfstaskburndown2
  8. Fill the configuration with the following
    tfstaskburndown3
  9. If you have existing work items you should be able to select the color of your choosing for each work item state (To Do / Done / In Progress …)
    tfstaskburndownseries

This is an example of the task burndown. As you can see the iteration started on the 19th of may and they created tasks progressively. Then we can see an increase in the In Progress and Done state day after day. The flat line is due to the week end.

tfstaskburndownresult

Please note that doing a task burndown like this will work a lot better if the tasks have all approximately the same size. If not this can result in the team having a false positive key performance indicator. For example, a team having done 80% of the tasks few days before the end of the sprint but the 20% remaining tasks avec representing 80% of the work ! So be careful when using this, the team must be aware and well informed about the risks.

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