Developing software better, faster, and cheaper is much easier with Agile. It increases speed to market and helps meet customer demand. An Agile Coach serves as a guiding mentor who helps seamlessly traverse all complicated business ventures. Responsible for scaling Agile practices across an organization by aligning teams with Agile values and concepts, these project management professionals promote flexibility, transparency, and efficiency, thus streamlining every process. 

Discover the Agile coach meaning, different types of Agile coaches, their responsibilities, and how to become Agile coach?

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What Are the Common Agile Coach Responsibilities?

An Agile coach is a person who facilitates the adoption of Agile practices across teams and organizations. Following are the day-to-day tasks of an Agile coach:  

  • Planning and designing Agile adoption across multiple teams
  • Providing interactive training sessions on Agile frameworks, such as Kanban, Scrum, and SAFe
  • Fostering a culture of psychological safety and open communication
  • Coaching project leaders such as Scrum Masters, executives, and product owners on Agile leadership practices
  • Developing the roadmap for future Agile practices
  • Overseeing the development of Agile teams for effective outcomes
  • Encouraging Agile teams with the right knowledge, training, and tools while acting as a role model for Agile values

Why Do Organizations Need an Agile Coach?

Agile is easily understood but turns challenging when it is time to master it. Setting unrealistic expectations for the implementation of Agile within a team, department, or the entire organization, often creates hurdles in the path. 

Project managers often find themselves in situations where things fail to work despite implementing the right Agile processes. Sometimes the methodologies seemingly work in one business unit but not the other. 

Such fixes are efficiently handled when you have an Agile coach as a part of your team. They figure out why Agile isn't delivering the expected results and procure the ideal remedy for the situation.

Agile Coach Specialities

As businesses embrace Agile strategies, some will require an Agile coach with a strong technical background, while others would want someone who could train the leaders or serve as a consultant for one-off issues.

Every company has unique needs, and there are three main Agile coach specialities to help fill the diverse requirements: 

  • Process/management coaches: They focus on establishing leadership for Agile teams for the successful adoption of the Agile method.
  • Technical coaches: Collaborate with developers and are skilled at coding and integration — the essential skills for working with the dev team.
  • Non-directive coaches: Offer individualized support for organizations aiming to resolve agile-related issues. 

Types of Agile Coaches

The three main types of Agile coaches that help companies and teams adopt Agile transformations are as follows:

Agile Coach

  • Works at multi-team and organizational levels
  • Engages with top management
  • Promotes inter-department dialogue 
  • Accelerates the adoption of Agile in the company

Agile Team Facilitator 

  • Works on an individual level with one or more teams
  • Introduces and maintains Agile ceremonies within teams
  • Common titles: Scrum master, Iteration manager, Scrum coach, and Kanban coach

Enterprise Agile Coach

  • Works on the enterprise level
  • Manages cultural and organizational change
  • Coaches executive leadership

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Is Agile Coaching a Full-time Role?

Depending on the size of the organization, Agile coaching can be a full-time or part-time role. For instance, Agile team facilitators often work part-time as Scrum Masters or developers or project managers. When associated with larger organizations, an Agile team facilitator's sole concern is to fulfill the responsibilities of a Scrum Master or Kanban Coach. 

Typically, you would find a project manager taking on the duties of an Agile coach during an Agile transition. 

How to Become an Agile Coach?

Consider the following three steps to becoming an Agile coach or landing better opportunities:

1. Strengthen Your Agile Coach Skills

Agile coaches must poses the following key skills:

  • Strong understanding of Agile frameworks like Kanban and Scrum 
  • Knowledge of XP and Lean 
  • Knowledge of Agile software development
  • Proficiency in project management tools and software like RACI charts, burndown charts, GANTT charts, Kanban boards, and bug trackers.

Soft skills that you must develop to excel in the Agile coaching profession are as follows:

  • Strong communication skills 
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Interpersonal skills 
  • Patience
  • Persuasiveness 
  • Negotiation skills 

You can take the help of several books, online resources, and podcasts to learn Agile and develop the in-demand skills. 

2. Gain Agile Project Management Experience

Going through Agile coach job descriptions will tell you that most organizations seek candidates who have had exposure to diverse Agile environments and possess coaching experience. Building up your Agile coach resume on these fronts can boost your chances of landing a good position.  

You can gain relevant experience through the following options: 

  • Working as a Scrum Master: Upto 81% of Agile adopters use Scrum, and it is likely that your job might require some knowledge of Scrum methodology. Therefore, gaining Scrum Master experience can be a stepping stone to Agile coaching. 
  • Working on an Agile team: Gaining exposure to XP, Lean, and Kanban methodologies with active participation in scaling Scrum or Agile practices and adding them to your resume can help you catch the recruiter's eye.  

3. Get Certified as an Agile Coach

Agile coach certification gives you a competitive edge in the job market and assures potential employers of your professional knowledge. The process of studying and getting certified equips you with Agile skills. You must check the latest job descriptions to discover the in-demand Agile coach certifications. Some of the commonly requested certifications are as follows: 

  • SAFe Practitioner (SP)
  • SAFe Program Consultant Trainer (SPCT)
  • SAFe Practitioner Consultant (SPC)
  • PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
  • ICAgile Certified Expert in Agile Coaching Certification (ICE-AC)
  • ICAgile Certified Professional in Agile Coaching Certification (ICP-ACC)

Why Hire a Scrum Alliance Certified Agile Coach?

Scrum Alliance- the organization, providing resources, education, and support to Agile and Scrum practitioners, offers an Agile Coach Certification. Scrum Alliance Certified Agile Coaches are properly trained and vetted. They possess the credibility to guide you through your personal or corporate transformation. 

  • They partner with you in an innovative and co-designed approach to help achieve your goals and purpose via well-defined steps and solutions. 
  • Scrum Alliance Certified Agile Coaches accelerate your Agile journey by making you adept at Agile principles, practices, and tools, leveraging the science of change.
  • They enhance your ability to manage changing priorities, project visibility, and leadership.
  • Most importantly, they sustain your changes through mentoring and assisting teams such that they thrive long after the Agile coaching. 

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How Can an Agile Coach Help a Project Manager?

Project managers and Agile coaches often collaborate on projects. Engaging with Agile coaches has the following benefits for a project team and its manager:

Improve Agile Processes in Your Project Team

Are daily standups not providing real value? Is your team finding it hard to understand why story points should be used for estimation? When faced with problems related to Agile in your team, consulting an Agile coach is the best solution. Inviting an Agile coach to your ceremonies for a soft audit can be rewarding assistance as their valuable feedback or improvisations can unearth problems you would have easily ignored. 

Eliminating Dependencies

Removing/ mitigating external dependencies is one of the prime requirements of being Agile. How would you handle dependencies that stem from other teams as a project manager? You won't have much to offer, but an Agile coach who has a higher-level view of Agility in the entire organization can help initiate the resolution of the dependencies.

FAQ

1. What does an Agile coach do?

Agile coaches are people responsible for devising and enhancing Agile processes within a team/organization. They teach Agile best practices, mentor team leaders and members, integrate Agile teams in non-Agile operations and evaluate Agile transition results.

2. How do you become an Agile coach?

Begin by seeking opportunities to become a Scrum master or an Agile team facilitator while developing Agile coaching skills. Closely monitor the Agile coaches within your company and gain essential knowledge by enrolling for Agile coach certification.

3. What is the difference between an Agile coach and a Scrum master?

Scrum masters are types of Agile coaches. The position serves as a stepping stone to your career as an Agile coach. Scrum masters implement Agile on a team level in contrast to Agile coaches who work on the Agile transformations of the entire organization. 

Are you a professional who is aspiring to be a Agile Scrum Master? Then check out the ASM certification course now.

Take the First Step Towards Becoming Agile Coach 

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