AACE Source June 2017 - 23
the amount of work completed, in units
of story points, the comparable
technique for construction projects is
earned value management. Earned value
is the percent of the total budget
actually completed at a point in time [13,
p. 2], so earned value also measures the
amount of work completed. A histogram
of earned value earned for each time
period can be generated using monetary
units for the vertical axis, and that is
equivalent to the velocity histogram.
Books and websites are evenly
divided on whether the term is burn
down or burndown; this article will use
the single word version. A burndown
chart displays the remaining work for a
specific iteration. The remaining work is
typically shown as story points, but as
discussed earlier, story points can easily
be converted into hours.
The burndown chart is also used to
show the remaining work for a release,
which consists of multiple iterations.
Figure 10 shows the burndown chart for
the second product release on a project.
The chart shows actual values for
iterations 7, 8 and 9; and forecast values
for iterations 10, 11 and 12.
Release #2 consists of up to six
iterations with 150 defined story points.
Note the use of two baselines. The first
baseline uses the known 150 story
points, and the previously calculated
average of 46 story points per iteration.
Based on this information, the release
can be completed in four iterations
(150/46 = 3.3).
However, on agile projects
requirements and scope evolve, so
typically only 60 to 80 percent of the
user stories are known at the start of a
release. Assuming the worst case of 60
percent known requirements, the
number of expected story points is 250
(150/0.6). Using the calculated velocity
of 46, the number of iterations needed is
six (250/46 = 5.4). Therefore, the second
baseline shown is based on the expected
story points and six iterations. Note with
the sample release burndown chart the
addition of story points before the start
of the next iteration as new
requirements and scope are defined.
The burndown chart is frequently
used on constructions projects, but
hours are used instead of story points for
the vertical axis. The burndown chart can
be used to show planned, actual and
earned hours. The biggest difference
with construction projects is that new
hours are not added to the chart unless
there is an approved scope change.
Agile lifecycle models, such as
scrum, are based on iterative and
exception is kanban, which was
developed by Toyota in the late 1940s.
Kanban focuses on the continuous flow
of work, and does not use fixed‐length
iterations like scrum. The key metric with
scrum is velocity, which is the number of
story points completed during the
iteration, and this provides a measure of
the amount of work done. The key
metric with kanban is cycle time, the
amount of time it takes for a unit of work
to travel through the project process.
Kanban is a Japanese word and
roughly translates to "card system." The
cards were used to create a "pull" system
in the production line, rather than the
common approach of letting material
queue up for the next step in the
process. For example, the team that
attaches the doors to the car frame
delivers a card, or "kanban," to the team
that assembles the doors to signal they
will soon need more doors. This signals
the door assembly team to make more
doors. Although the signaling technology
has evolved over the years, this system is
still at the core of "just in time"
Applied to projects, kanban matches
the amount of work to the team's
capacity by limiting the Work in Progress
(WIP) at each step in the process. Once
the team completes a task, they start
work on the next task from the
prioritized task backlog. The product
owner is able to re‐prioritize the "to do"
list as new user stories are developed
without disrupting the team. Provided
the most important user stories are at
the top of the "to do" list, the agile team
is assured of delivering maximum value
to the business. The WIP limits highlight
bottlenecks in the project process due to
procedures, people and/or equipment
problems. The plan‐do‐check‐act (PDCA)
cycle is then used to eliminate
bottlenecks and improve the project
process and cycle time.
A key tool with kanban is the task
board, also known as the signaling
Figure 11 - Kanban Signaling Board for Engineering Project
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