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Differences Between Agile Coach and Scrum Master

Most enterprises are now familiar with agile innovation teams and the demand for agile coaches continues to grow. However, there appears to be a lack of clarity on the commonalities and differences between the roles of an Agile Coach and a Scrum Master. While teams are already being coached by Scrum Masters, is there even a need for an Agile Coach? In this article, we seek to shine a light on the nuances between the two roles.Both, an Agile Coach and a Scrum Master, are responsible to help teams develop an Agile mindset. They may even use similar techniques to support and facilitate their teams. The difference, however, lies in the scope of their roles.Agile Coach vs. Scrum MasterScrum MasterAgile CoachFocus AreasWorks typically with two or three teams.Scrum practices, often complemented with other frameworks like Kanban, to help teams better.Works at the product level involving multiple teams.Provides advice on new techniques and tools to develop.Duration of roleThroughout the life of the Scrum TeamLimited, until the goal is accomplishedNow, let us take a deeper and clearer look at the differences between the two roles.The Scrum MasterAs an integral part of an agile development team, a Scrum Master is responsible for managing the process of how information flows within the team. He is up to date with everything that is taking place inside the workplace, and knows the whole team inside out.Some roles and responsibilities of a Scrum MasterMake 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 CoachThe Agile Coach is expected to have a deep understanding of multiple Agile methodologies which are beyond the Scrum Framework. An Agile coach is independent and has the responsibility to coach various teams or management. He also works with Scrum Masters and managers to help increase a agility within and across teams.Some 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 to develop a collective Agile mindset. As the team matures through the leadership of the Scrum Master, he or she may become ready to take on more of a leadership role for the organization.  This may pave the journey of a Scrum Master to become an Agile Coach, providing mentoring and coaching for new Scrum Masters, or other roles in the team. In summaryMany tend to interchange the roles of an Agile Coach and Scrum Master, which can be counter-productive. Though the roles of an Agile Coach and Scrum Master have a lot in common, there is a difference in the scope as discussed above. With clarity in the scope and skillsets that come along with each role, organizations stand to gain distinct benefits out of both roles. 
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Differences Between Agile Coach and Scrum Master

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Differences Between Agile Coach and Scrum Master

Most enterprises are now familiar with agile innovation teams and the demand for agile coaches continues to grow. However, there appears to be a lack of clarity on the commonalities and differences between the roles of an Agile Coach and a Scrum Master. While teams are already being coached by Scrum Masters, is there even a need for an Agile Coach? In this article, we seek to shine a light on the nuances between the two roles.

Both, an Agile Coach and a Scrum Master, are responsible to help teams develop an Agile mindset. They may even use similar techniques to support and facilitate their teams. The difference, however, lies in the scope of their roles.

Agile Coach vs. Scrum Master


Scrum MasterAgile Coach
Focus Areas
  • Works typically with two or three teams.
  • Scrum practices, often complemented with other frameworks like Kanban, to help teams better.
  • Works at the product level involving multiple teams.
  • Provides advice on new techniques and tools to develop.
Duration of role
Throughout the life of the Scrum TeamLimited, until the goal is accomplished

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

The Scrum Master

As an integral part of an agile development team, a Scrum Master is responsible for managing the process of how information flows within the team. He is up to date with everything that is taking place inside the workplace, and knows the whole team inside out.

Some 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. An Agile coach is independent and has the responsibility to coach various teams or management. He also works with Scrum Masters and managers to help increase a agility within and across teams.

Some 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 to develop a collective Agile mindset. 

As the team matures through the leadership of the Scrum Master, he or she may become ready to take on more of a leadership role for the organization.  This may pave the journey of a Scrum Master to become an Agile Coach, providing mentoring and coaching for new Scrum Masters, or other roles in the team. 

In summary

Many tend to interchange the roles of an Agile Coach and Scrum Master, which can be counter-productive. Though the roles of an Agile Coach and Scrum Master have a lot in common, there is a difference in the scope as discussed above. With clarity in the scope and skillsets that come along with each role, organizations stand to gain distinct benefits out of both roles. 

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KnowledgeHut

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KnowledgeHut is an outcome-focused global ed-tech company. We help organizations and professionals unlock excellence through skills development. We offer training solutions under the people and process, data science, full-stack development, cybersecurity, future technologies and digital transformation verticals.
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3 comments

Joshua 19 Aug 2019

Hi, Thanks for sharing this very useful information

Lokesh 20 Aug 2019

Excellent understanding of the differences between agile coach and scrum master. Thanks for such a useful blog...

Chaturi 20 Aug 2019

When I comes to reading any topic related to agile. I always hit Knowledgehut from Search Engine! Thanks for all the information Knowledgehut.

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