Agile Coach vs Scrum Master — What You Need to Know

agile coach vs scrum master
Here's a complete guide to understanding the details of Agile Coach vs Scrum Master and how it benefits your business and workforce.

Nowadays, many IT companies are using Agile methodologies, especially Scrum, to deliver high-quality products efficiently. In this post, we’ll focus on Agile Coach vs Scrum Master and why IT companies need them. 

The Agile methodology is a way to manage a project by breaking it up into several phases. This methodology helps teams to have more flexibility when facing changes by evaluating requirements, plans and results.

Scrum is used in software development to meet the customer’s needs through transparency, collective responsibilities and a continuous progress environment. The development starts from ideation of what needs to be built and elaborating a list ordered by priority (product backlog) to obtain the product owner’s result.

Should your company go Agile without any coach?

adopt agile methodology without coach

In reality, some companies adopt the Agile methodologies or Scrum without hiring an Agile Coach or Scrum Master. They think it’s a waste of money, their teams are already organised, or they can implement it by themselves since they’ve read about it.

However, going Agile or adopting Scrum without hiring a coach is more likely to cost you money. It’s like a football team without a coach.

IT teams face some common problems without a Scrum Master. For instance, they’re unable to focus on bigger goals, changes in the sprint, poor results and time-consuming progress. 

Now, some of you may wonder if it’s ok to hire just one coach. After all, Scrum is part of Agile, right? The answer is no. Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters aren’t the same. Thus you should hire both (if necessary).

The difference between Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters

Here’s a simple explanation to help you differentiate between Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters.

Agile Coaches help organisations rethink and change their development, addressing issues such as workflow practices and team collaboration. They work holistically within the company, sharing their knowledge and energy throughout the company.

Scrum Masters are tactical coaches who work at the team level. They help the team and Product Owners to coordinate all their projects effectively. They are Servant Leaders who have better knowledge and hold peer positions central to the team activities.

What are the responsibilities of Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters?

This part will elaborate on the responsibilities of Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters for your better understanding.

The responsibilities of Agile Coaches

According to Agile experts Esther Derby and Don Gray, these nine roles sum up the responsibilities of Agile Coaches:

To listen and evaluate problems, create a safe working environment in the organisations to successfully go Agile.


For instance, using their listening skills to create an environment where employees can freely discuss issues without fear.

To facilitate conflict resolution, establish meetings to improve the dynamics of the group, etc.

To observe interactions between everyone within the organisation, provide an external perspective.

To understand that the team members have the tools to solve their problems, unlocking knowledge through powerful questions and support.

To take on a teacher role when there’s a lack of knowledge within a team, using their ability to save the team from the struggle. 

To assess or give technical advice when a team face specific technical difficulty.

This role is suitable when working within an organisation that is new to Agile, as a guide to start implementing the methodology.

To help the team to adopt the Agile practices by modelling new, aligned behaviours that would become habits.

To be partners but without being held responsible for achieving goals despite being involved with the team, as they aren’t employees of the organisation.

The responsibilities of Scrum Masters

Meanwhile, some responsibilities of Scrum Masters are:

To encourage continuous integration (CI) and automation to improve efficiency.


CI tools help developers integrate chunks of code into a central repository frequently, from which automated builds and tests run in successive iterations.


This approach will reduce risk, time and effort. For example, if a bug appears in one build, it can be fixed quickly.

To coach the team, Product Owner and organisations to apply the process and methods.

To create project teams and provide a clear vision of the product.


They facilitate communication and information exchange, monitor the progress of the project and provide timely feedback.

To find what each member did yesterday, will do today and the challenges they face to complete the tasks (a quick meeting, no more than 15 minutes).

The benefit of adopting Agile methodology in organisations

A survey by the Scrum Alliance found that many agile coaches had an impact across multiple company levels. From organization-wide, team-level, customers to products.

By adopting Agile methodology, the organisations have seen improvements in:

  • management mindset
  • individual, team and organisation metrics
  • delivery speed and quality
  • communication, collaboration and transparency
  • agility across the organisation

Things to consider when hiring an Agile Coach or a Scrum Master

list to hire Agile Coach or Scrum Master

So, are you starting to consider hiring an Agile Coach or Scrum Master for your organisation? If yes, there are things that you need to consider before doing so.

First, don’t be fooled by certificates. Choose someone who has several years of practical experience. 

If you’re looking for a Scrum Master, look for someone with a strong IT background and broad experience. Thus, they can address any technical issues with developers.

Moreover, here are some characteristics of great Agile Coaches:

  • Ask questions to fully understand your problems
  • Comfortable in giving honest feedback to drive a change in the organisation
  • Measure results
  • Find out the strength and weaknesses of your organisation’s processes and structure

To sum up

I’d like to recommend firms, especially those in the IT industry to hire an Agile Coach or Scrum Master for smooth deliverable projects.

Plus, it’s important to note that the Agile methodologies aren’t created solely for IT companies. They can also be introduced more generally across the organisations.

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