Differences Between Agile Coach and Scrum Master

Agile & Scrum

Differences Between Agile Coach and Scrum Master

There is an exponential increase in the demand for Agile Coaches in the market. But at the same time, there is a lot of confusion regarding the differences and commonalities between an Agile Coach and Scrum Master. When the teams are already being coached by Scrum Masters, what is the need for an Agile Coach?

It is really important to understand that there are many similarities between the two roles. Both Agile Coach and Scrum Masters are responsible to help develop an Agile mindset in their organisations. Even the techniques that they use to support and facilitate their teams are very similar. The difference lies in their scope.

In this article, we are going to discuss the key differences between and see how a Scrum Master and Agile Coach complement each other and play important roles.

Agile Coach vs. Scrum Master

Scrum Master
Agile Coach

Focus Areas
  • Works with one Scrum team
  • Apply the basic Scrum practices
  • Works with multiple Agile teams
  • Defines what has to be done, how, who does it, etc.
Scrum practices Scrum and other frameworks like Kanban, Scaling Methods, etc.
Less than 5 years in Scrum Greater than 5 years in multiple frameworks
Salary $115,766

Now, let us take a deeper and clearer look at the differences between the two roles.

The Scrum Master

As a facilitator of an agile development team, a Scrum Master is responsible for managing the process of how information flows. The Scrum Master is like a leader for his Scrum team and focuses on a single team or at the most, a couple of teams. He is up-to-date with everything that is taking place inside the workplace, and knows the whole team inside out.

The Roles and Responsibilities of a Scrum Master

  • Make sure the team is well trained and is working in accordance with the Scrum framework and Agile practices.
  • Impediment solving, that is, anticipate, identify, track, and remove any impediments that the Scrum team faces or might face.
  • Manage and drive the Agile process, that is, scope and timeline of the entire project.

The Agile Coach

The Agile Coach is expected to have a deep understanding of multiple Agile methodologies which are beyond the Scrum Framework.

The main focus of an Agile Coach is not to support individual team members but rather implement an Agile working method in an organisation. Unlike Scrum Master, an Agile Coach is not a part of a specific Scrum team. The role of being an Agile Coach is independent and has the responsibility to coach various teams or management.

An Agile Coach works directly with teams or works via a team’s management. Moreover, they work with Scrum Masters and managers to help increase a team’s agility.

The Roles and Responsibilities of an Agile Coach

  • Offer new tools and techniques to promote a healthy group dynamic.
  • Make sure that teams work together effectively. For example, implementation of Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) that requires active coordination at a team and enterprise level.
  • Make the individual employees as well as the various teams aware of their strengths and weaknesses in order to develop a collective Agile mindset.

In summary

The roles of an Agile Coach and Scrum Master are used interchangeably, which is counted as a risky move. Though the roles of Agile Coach and Scrum Master have a lot in common, there are a lot of differences as well. Agile Coaches deal with the process and not the content, and are most in-demand when an organization is transitioning to Agile.

You can gain distinct benefits out of both roles, all you need to know is how to leverage their skillsets and make the most out of the same to reap the benefits of Agile adoption.