The importance of the product owner position to an effective agile project performance is undisputable. The product owner defines the product backlog and prioritizes it in such a way that team members work on what’s most valuable to deliver the product as required by their clients or customers. On the other hand, a slight change in flavour occurs with regards to the product owner when referring to Kanban. This blog post shall discuss the functions that make up the Kanban product owner and their importance in accomplishing an agile venture.

Firstly, let’s find out what it means by Kanban. Kanban is part of the family of an agile method which is concerned with visualizing the work, minimizing work in progress and streamlining throughput. It gives an all-round picture of the project’s status, enabling the team at once to notice all obstacles and resolve them immediately. In contrast to other Agile approaches like (Scrum, for example), Kanban lacks job titles, i.e. (such as, Scrum Master and Product Owner). Nevertheless, in most times, teams allocate particular tasks among themselves which include that of a product owner.

What does a kanban product owner do?

A Kanban product owner’s primary role involves maintaining the product backlog. This is essential in working hand-in-hand with the stakeholders, the customers as well as the development teams so that it would be possible to realize what those requirements are and prioritize them suitably. The product owner makes sure the backlog always reflects only the most important priorities with their corresponding user stories in the first place. During backlog refinements, they collaborate with the team by clarifying requirements, answering questions, and making sure everybody understands the work.

WIP limitation is one of the most important aspects of Kanban. In other words, the team must concentrate on accomplishing only a few things instead of beginning many tasks together. It is the job of the Kanaban product owner to ensure that this principle is implemented. As part of this team, they are responsible for tracking activities in the Kanban board and preventing the project team from crossing over the WIP limits associated with various stages of the workflow. The product owner in this case works together with the team to identify any bottlenecks and they can be dealt with by reallocation of resources or prioritization of work.

The other crucial task for a Kanban product owner is, in this case, making sure that the team comprehends what the customers want. They are also the voice of the customer providing a link between them and the company. Product owner talks to stake holders and to customers in providing feedback in order to substantiate assumptions and inform better product decisions. The essential feedback loop in Kanban enables the team to consistently enhance the product and accommodate varying consumer requirements.

Besides the responsibilities of managing the product backlog and being the voice of the customer, a Kanban product owner plays an essential role in continuous process improvement within the team’s workflow. The team looks at its performance measures like lead times and cycle times to point out where they need to improve. The product owner works along with the team and tries out various approaches like increasing the WIP limit or introducing different practices that can improve the flow of work. The essence of Kanban involves this continuous improvement mindset which forms the basis or the backbone of the entire team.

Therefore, a Kanban product owner manages the product backlog; makes sure the team works on a limited number of items at one time; represents the voice of the customer; and contributes to improving the workflows of the team. They have extended their responsibilities over product ownership, covering the tenets and procedures of a Kanban system. Effectively carrying out these functions ensures that a Kanban product owner contributes significantly towards making an Agile project successful.