Product Owner in Kanban

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If you read books related to Kanban (Kanban by David Anderson or Personal Kanban by Jim Benson and Tonianne De Mary Barry) there is no mention about the role of Product Owner. However, what if supposed to do if you have a team to work as helpdesk?

You need someone to prioritize the incidents (or bugs) per product and basing on the importance of each product and how many clients are affected per each bug.

In addition, this special guy has to collect every new requirement that other departments of the company need.

What about working with Legacy Code?

Well, here you have to deal with complaints from clients and all of them should be attended as soon as possible but you can’t do it except you hire an army of developers ( I am kidding). So you have to record each bug, distributed on swim lanes and decide according to your criteria which goes on the top and which can wait a longer (no forever so you have to refine your backlog time to time ).

Refinement?

Yes, I know that you are thinking why this guy is mentioning the Grooming (or refinement) Backlog in Kanban. Because Kanban has a backlog which is very similar to the Product Backlog in Scrum.

There are many similarities between the role of Product Owner from Scrum and someone who has to take care of your Kanban backlog.

Furthermore, if you have many bugs that show the same behavior someone has to analyze what is the best way to figure it out all of them once.

Responsibilities (extracted from Roman Pichler)

  • The Product Owner has to understand the users and customers with theirs needs
  • Collaborate with the development team
  • Manage the stakeholders

As far as I know all of these duties look very similar from the role of someone (the Product Owner in Scrum) you read in other books so in my opinion even in Kanban you have to find someone to work as Product Owner.

I would like to know what is your experience working with real (or fake) Product Owner in Kanban.

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Mario Lucero

Mario Lucero

I am all about helping companies to adopt agile as methodology in Chile. Why? I believe many organizations think that agile is not for Chilean companies because of Chilean culture is totally different from i.e. USA culture but I worked with Chilean professionals who after using agile realized it is feasible to implement it. Agile works in small and large projects and there are many evidences which demonstrate this.

5 comments

  1. Kanban does not describe the role of the product owner because Kanban does not describe any roles at all. Kanban is not a method of delivering software, but rather a set of tools and perspectives that any functioning team can apply to their existing process to incrementally improve the flow of value to stakeholders. So if your Scrum team decides to implement Kanban, then at least at the start the Scrum Master is the Scrum Master and she does Scrum Master things. The Product Owner is still the Product Owner and he does Product Owner things. The team still maintains a backlog of user stories from which they plan their sprints. The only things that change is that they all commit to visualizing work, measuring flow, and to conducting experiments in an attempt to improve the flow of value. Once they start experimenting with things that break Scrum rules, then perhaps they are no longer a Scrum team. But if they remain rigidly committed to Scrum practices, then there is no reason that they can’t use Kanban to help them to create the best Scrum experience possible.

    1. Hi Paul

      Thanks for your comments.

      Regards,

      Mario

      1. So earlier comment I understand there are no roles defined in Kanban, but if we are moving from Scrum to Kanban then we can continue with PO and Scrum Master Roles. In case we plan to start with Kanban, do we still need PO and Scrum Master?

        1. Hi Thrishul

          No, you don’t need to keep both roles. However, it would be very useful to have someone to prioritise the items in the backlog.

          Regarding the role of SM you need someone to facilitate Daily meeting that are helpful meeting to sync the team but this duty has to be shared with all team members.

          Kind Regards,

          Mario

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