What is an Agile Coach? (And How You Can Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 2, 2022

Many companies implement agile methodologies to improve processes and enhance production efficiency. Agile coaches can help companies successfully implement these methods and develop other professionals within the organization. Understanding more about agile coaches, including what they do and how they can benefit a company, can help you develop your own agile knowledge and mentorship skills. In this article, we explore what an agile coach is, discuss some common responsibilities for these mentors, review how they can help a company and examine common requirements and skill sets for these leaders.

What is an agile coach?

An agile coach is a leader who helps companies incorporate agile methodologies into their organization. These professionals develop agile teams and foster company change, including culture and process change, to improve organizational success. They also help develop agile team members by conducting training sessions and analyzing where team members might benefit from additional mentorship.

Related: What Is Agile Project Management?

What does an agile coach do?

Responsibilities for an agile coach vary based on individual specialties and organizations. Coaches can fill three main types of roles, which include technical, process management and non-directive specialties. Common responsibilities for many agile coach roles include:

  • Educating team members about agile methods

  • Incorporating methodologies into an organization

  • Training company employees

  • Developing process standards and requirements

  • Analyzing employees' knowledge of agile methods

  • Reviewing current company practices

  • Overseeing agile implementation

  • Mentoring agile teams

Related: Agile Project Management: Values, Principles and Steps

What are the organizational benefits of an agile coach?

There are many ways a company can benefit from agile coaches. Some benefits that many organizations experience when working with agile coaches include:

  • Improved process efficiencies

  • Faster product delivery

  • Enhanced customer satisfaction

  • Increased decision-making capabilities

  • Improved product or service quality

  • Better company communication

Related: Agile vs. Waterfall: Which Methodology Is Right for You?

Agile coach requirements

Review these qualifications and skills to help you understand how you can become an agile coach:

Training

Agile coaches develop their leadership skills and agile methodology through a variety of postsecondary education, training courses and professional workshops. Some topics to search for when finding agile training programs include:

  • Agile coach methodologies

  • Scrum Master concepts

  • Kanban principles

  • Lean methodologies

Education

Many agile methodologies rely on leadership skills, conflict resolution abilities and business management techniques. There are several formal education programs to consider that can help you develop these skills and learn about business topics. Some education programs to consider include:

  • Business administration

  • Computer science

  • Business management

  • Project management

  • Electrical engineering

  • Communication

  • Information technology

Related: Using the Agile Project Management Methodology

Skills

Agile coaches also use a variety of skills to implement new procedures and train other professionals. Attending additional workshops, practicing soft skills and taking part in educational courses can help agile professionals develop their skills. Some skills that many of these professionals use include:

  • Communication skills: Many coaches mentor their teams and foster stakeholder relationships by using their verbal and written communication skills. They also use these communication methods to convey important project information.

  • Problem-solving skills: Agile coaches resolve team member conflict and project challenges by using problem-solving skills. This can help them maintain project timelines and improve team dynamics.

  • Interpersonal skills: Having advanced interpersonal skills can help coaches develop professional networks and effective teams. Understanding nonverbal communication methods can also help these professionals enhance their interpersonal techniques.

Certification

These professionals also can complete certifications to expand their coaching abilities and show potential employers how they can benefit the organization. Here are four programs to consider include:

1. Scrum Alliance Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC)

This certification helps professionals show their knowledge of Scrum concepts, coaching techniques and agile practices. Individuals often complete this program after several years of experience implementing agile and Lean methods. The process to gain CEC certification includes:

  • Pre-application call: This helps you determine your readiness to complete this program. Feedback from this conversation can help identify growth opportunities regarding your Scrum, agile and Lean knowledge.

  • Application submission: This portion tests your ability to coach other professionals. Certifying officials review your application and either advance your application to the next stage or provide developmental feedback.

  • Qualitative evaluation: The evaluation portion of this program examines your learning abilities, mindset and mentorship approach as an agile coach. This portion also involves submitting six recommendations that detail your experience and skills.

  • Certification completion: Once certifying officials review your evaluation and recommendations, they approve your application or submit feedback. Individuals can maintain this certification by completing agile coach projects and pursuing additional education.

2. ICAgile Certified Professional–Agile Coaching (ICP-ACC)

This credential expands on the tools, skills and techniques that agile coaches use regularly. Many professionals can earn this certification by completing accredited programs and passing an exam. Some organizations offer this program and certification in a fully online format, which can help you complete coursework during ideal times for your schedule. Key concepts explored during many ICP-ACC programs include:

  • Conducting coaching conversations

  • Balancing mentorship conversations with helping conversations

  • Encouraging the agile mindset in others

  • Engaging with company leaders

3. Project Management Professional (PMP) certification

Professionals who complete this program can help employers and customers understand their experience with managing projects and leading a team. This program includes waterfall, agile and hybrid project management approaches, which can help individuals determine what style they prefer. Upon completion, this credential remains current for three years. Common aspects of this program include:

  • Managing a team of diverse individuals

  • Overseeing processes

  • Understanding business environments

  • Promoting team and project performance

4. PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) certification

Achieving the PMI-ACP certification can help employers understand your specialized agile experience. Individuals who can complete this program include specialists who've completed a secondary degree, attended 20 hours of agile training, managed agile projects for a minimum of eight months and coordinated projects for a minimum of 12 months. Upon completion, this credential remains current for three years. Topics within this certification include:

  • Agile principles and mindset

  • Stakeholder engagement

  • Team performance management

  • Adaptive planning

  • Problem identification

  • Continuous improvement

Please note that none of the certifications mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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