The role of an Agile Coach is a role that has come to the fore increasingly over the past number of years, as organisations look for guidance on adopting scrum and in expanding it at an enterprise level. The role is one which is more to do with the organisation than an official role in the scrum process.

It is important to firstly state that the role of coaching is assumed by the Scrum Master, as they are the ones responsible for the scrum process itself. The scrum master is responsible for ensuring the team, product owner and stakeholders understand and adhere to the process. The Scrum Master is both an educator and evangelist for the process.

The adoption of scrum in an organisation usually takes one of two approaches.

  • The Big bang method – where the organisation decides that they, entirely, are going to adopt scrum in an overnight fashion. The scary one, but can be very effective with the right leadership.
  • The organic method – where a team or, a small number of teams, adopt the process. This is observed and further growth stems from here. This is the more traditional approach, not as scary. More a suck it and see approach, although it does have its downside with pace of adoption.

As the adoption of scrum expands the need for a consistent experience for the teams, product owners and stakeholders becomes a vital ingredient in the successful transition of an organisation to an Agile organisation. It is here that the need for a specific role in owning this adoption is needed and this is usually formed in an Agile Coach.

Some areas that the role covers are:

  • Understanding why an organisation is choosing Agile and Scrum as their preferred methods of delivering projects and ensuring the organisation keep these drivers at the forefront of their implementation.
  • Senior leadership/executive level understanding of what scrum means and how to work with it is paramount to its success. The coach should ensure this level of management are getting and understanding the information they need to run their organisation.
  • Instilling an agile way of thinking in an organisation. Traditional expectations, fundamental ones, for project delivery still need to be met , they just look different in an Agile approach.
  • Identification and development of a scrum master community ensuring a consistent understanding and implementation of scrum across the teams in the organisation

The adoption of agile and scrum is a fundamental change in the way an organisation delivers its projects. Change is never easy and although scrum is a very easy methodology to understand, it can be a very difficult one to implement. Having an Agile Coach as the focal point for this transition can be vital to its success.

Choosing the right person to help in that transition is a crucial decision. An Agile Coach should have a wealth of experience as a Scrum Master, as the roles are very similar in content if not coverage.

Understanding why an organisation wants to be agile is one of its biggest drivers it needs to understand. Bringing an Agile Coach in at the start can save a lot of money and heartache, with regard to ensuring the right drivers are in play from the start.

Often there is only one chance to make a good impression of what scrum is within teams and in an organisation. An Agile Coach can ensure that this impression is a very good one from the start.

If you require an Agile Coach or Scrum Master, please contact Aspira today.

Author:  Aidan Muldoon, Scrum Master, Aspira.

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