Do you know the distinct leadership roles of a Scrum Master and an Agile Coach?

We’ve already seen definitions of Scrum and Agile. But now we are about to fly over some experts who are truly into Scrum and Agile methods, such as Scrum Master and Agile Coach.

Both of them are evolutions of the practices of these methodologies and sometimes they might work separately or together.

Some terms related to agility may still be new to some people, especially for those who do not experience an agile scenario in their daily lives.

The fact is that some new names to designate expertise or function are created in short periods of time: coach, agile coach, agile, agile master, delivery coach are some of them.

The high competitiveness of the digital market currently raises the need for professionals who are multitasking, and who know how to perform various functions within the company, enhancing the service and maximizing results.

In the meantime, companies sometimes look for a professional who is, at the same time, an Agile Coach and Scrum Master. But what are these functions?

Here in this article, we will study these two existing roles in the agile community, Scrum Master and Agile Coach, to know what are their main responsibilities and if they fit together in project management.

1) What is Scrum Master

Scrum Master is one of the roles of the agile Scrum framework. Like the Product Owner and the Team, the Scrum Master forms this fundamental trio for Scrum.

The Scrum Master is a kind of team leader and advisor, acting as a “coach” for the other two sectors of Scrum (Product Owner and Development Team).

The Scrum Master must be an encourager, the person who helps and motivates problems to be resolved. Being, then, a leader and motivator, it is logical that you should have in-depth knowledge of the entire Scrum methodology.

It means that the Scrum Master is that professional who both keeps the Scrum booklet under his/her arm, making his team comply with the events and produce the artifacts proposed by Scrum.

It also uses all his/her empathy, leadership/servitude, and expertise to promote an environment of creativity, security, and confidence for your team.

When we talk about having the Scrum booklet in hand, we are saying that the Scrum Master must ensure that events such as daily meetings, planning meetings, reviews, etc. are held, as well as building artifacts that promote visibility and transparency of what is being done and show the evolution of your team.

Many of these events or artifacts can be forgotten or overlooked by many who say they use the Scrum framework in their projects, but a good Scrum Master must ensure that they are carried out or produced, as they promote the pillars of this framework, which are: Transparency, Inspection, and Adaptation.

Because it is a framework, Scrum is very adaptable, and often leaves you free to better choose the form and format of these events or artifacts.

Therefore, creativity, empathy, leadership, servitude, etc. are some skills that this professional must-have. A good Scrum Master will use these skills, along with all their knowledge and experience, to define a better format and timing for these events and artifacts.

2) What is Agile Coach

Agile Coach is a bit more comprehensive in the agile scenario. Not only does know the Scrum framework, but also understands other models and methodologies of the agile scenario.

Its role is closer to companies that want to go through their agile transformation or improve the current agility landscape.

He/she will be able to develop several functions within the software creation process, not just leadership. It is an attribution to be attributed to any professional in the area.

That’s why we find in many places saying that this professional is a transforming agent and that he promotes change. This professional has the ability to observe the company as a whole, in an organizational context.

From the top of the hierarchy to the teams that develop and maintain products or services. And, in this way, propose changes in processes, in methods so that the environment is more efficient and effective.

In addition to all the baggage related to agility, the Agile Coach must also have all the expertise and experience in the coaching area, mastering techniques and methods to be applied in the environment in which they are working, such as an assessment application to identify various professional profiles. All this is to transform or improve an organizational scenario.

In a nutshell, the Agile Coach is more comprehensive to the team’s hard times than the Scrum Master. However, both share many things in their work.

It is possible that an experienced Scrum Master with consolidated knowledge can become an Agile Coach, as long as he has the proper skills and abilities. However, it is important to remember that Agile Coach is not part of the Scrum Team.

Both professionals are always dealing with people and processes, that is, they apply processes or promote changes in those that were already practiced, but never neglecting to provide people with a better environment for that professional to be able to better develop their work and, especially, if to develop.

3) Agile Coach vs. Scrum Master

The main difference between Agile Coach and Scrum Master roles is in the scope of their actions. While one acts directly at the team level, the other acts through a deep understanding of agile practices at the organizational level.

Today, companies are looking for Scrum Masters who are also Agile Coaches. This is because the second is capable of going through the most diverse software development processes, and not only through the Scrum method.

Moreover, they head into other company issues – such as interpersonal, process, and production issues. The Scrum Master, on the other hand, is a more rigid role, of effective leadership within the team. It is the “master”, as the name of the position suggests.

What often happens during the career is the Scrum Master, when acquiring experience, he ends up becoming an Agile Coach, as he accumulates knowledge, experiences, and new techniques throughout his career.

Also, because it focuses on the organizational level, nothing is more obvious than former leaders becoming consultants for new companies, using their knowledge about the process and, most valuable, about life and personal relationships.

Because they are two very similar functions, they may overlap during the development of projects. Therefore, it is important to know the peculiarities of each function and their differences.

These experts seek to help and develop people within the organization, making use of the agile mindset.

Also, they may use some similar techniques to achieve this goal. However, their areas of action are different, as you can see in the comparative image we have prepared for you.

The secret to optimizing a project is using an agile method! The Scrum framework, for example, is a method used for project management, based on software development, which benefits the company and customers with agility and flexibility in its development.

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Leonardo Salles

Copywriter for GitScrum.