Teamwork at Its Finest: A Deep Dive into Agile Coaching

Lyudmila Kucher
Lyudmila Kucher

I specialize in outstaffing and staff augmentation, and I have extensive experti...

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When it comes to today’s fast-moving development market, agility is vital. At least 70% of remote, with freelancers among them as Toptal review shows, and in-house developers use agile to develop their project lifecycles. Agile methodology may seem complicated initially, but it is designed to streamline processes, improve customer satisfaction, and increase the value of the software.

This means elastically handling complex projects by being able to scale up and down to meet shifting deadlines, quickly design and prototype new products for a variety of industries, and more. A coach partners with your business to catalyze growth based on 12 principles that were first introduced over 20 years ago. These principles are split into four values:

  • Individuals and interactions are more important than tools and processes
  • Comprehensive documentation means nothing without working software
  • Customer collaboration is preferred over contract negotiation
  • Change management and responsiveness for business plans

Whether you’re familiar with agile development or not, this ultimate guide to agile leadership will give you everything you need to know—from where to find candidates to becoming one yourself.

What Is Agile Coaching?

agile coaching

Agile methodologies can help businesses thrive by creating a framework that can easily keep pace with the market—but it takes some time to master. Agile coaching is the practice of partnering with a business and pushing them toward a more flexible business model. Before we break this down more, let’s cover some important terms:

Some Important Agile Lingo

Some definitions in agile coach sphere are self-explanatory, like bottleneck and backlog; there are others that need a little bit more explanation:

  • Agile Software Development: This is a type of software development that allows developers to create a working product model in as little as a few days.
  • Release Trains: Usually used in an enterprise setting, release trains are large teams working on different project parts in a set timeframe, called sprints.
  • Sprints: Also called iterations, this is the amount of time allotted for a specific amount of work to be completed. For example, completing the prototyping phase of a project in a one-week sprint. The amount of time and work will depend on the specific situation.
  • Velocity: This is how coaches measure how much work your team can handle during a sprint based on specific, evidence-based calculations.

What Does An Agile Coach Really Do?

what is agile coaching

Every year, companies worldwide lose billions of dollars in failed IT projects. To minimize or even eliminate this type of risk, companies partner with an agile leader who works closely with the development team in various ways.

So, what is the role of an agile coach, exactly? What is the first action an agile coach should take? Well, that depends on the needs of your business’s clients and stakeholders. They also have expertise in Agile management frameworks and work closely with you and your team.

Effective trainers focus on changing behaviors across the development team and with clients and stakeholders to bring about various improvements and growth. They are very hands-on and might have an interest or training in organizational psychology or team behavior. Two key things they do are:

Change Management

Transformation begins the moment that you bring an educator on board as your team adapts to the methods that will help them meet their maximum potential—including boosting developer participation and commitment across the entire organization.  This is done with data visualization, direct communications, and transparent gap analysis.

Break Down Roadblocks

A coach’s job is to identify and communicate information gaps and other issues to the development team. The team and the methodology expert collaborate closely, emphasizing transparency and handing down different skill sets to developers. Agile coaching can significantly improve the work efficiency of the onshore or offshore development team.

The Four Key Skillsets of an Exceptional Agile Coach

If you’re working with a coach that is hands-off, consider that a giant red flag. Agile coaches should be impactful communicators who know how to lead a company through change—which tends to be met with resistance of different kinds. Coaches can do this because they take on these four roles:

The Teacher

Coaches have to have a complete mastery of business and technology because their role is to identify information gaps and provide training and resources to team members. For example, a coach may recommend a company hire a Ukrainian programmer to quickly close the need for well-trained talent while cutting costs.

In addition to supporting the team with specialized or high-level expertise in software development, coaches teach your team how to break down large and complex projects into small, easy-to-manage chunks.

The Mentor

One-on-one teaching is a great way to reinforce and support employees’ professional growth. A team coach doesn’t focus on a fixed objective but instead measures the effectiveness of their mentoring by how much the team members grow.

The Facilitator

A coach’s job is to be future-focused—always looking toward where the business, project, or team will be six months, one year, or even five years from now. They help facilitate collaboration with clients to develop long-term loyalty and satisfaction.

To avoid burnout and disinterest in adopting new processes, they create a space to voice thoughts safely and encourage learning and discourse while maintaining key parameters to guide the team to a successful outcome. They’re also good at de-escalating situations when needed.

The Professional Coach

In addition to helping developers gain expertise in their roles, coaches foster employee confidence and acumen, leading teams to realize they can solve the problems they have on their own. For example, if a business needs to scale up its team quickly, a coach may recommend considering outstaffing companies to find developers for hire.

Are There Different Types of Agile Coaches?

agile coaches

Yes, there are many kinds of agile coaches with varying levels of specialization, expertise, and experience. Typically, the critical distinction among coaches is the type of Agile framework, such as Lean or XP. Other main techniques in applying the different value-based agile principles.

Scrum Framework

This is one of the most popular agile frameworks, and more than half of agile companies use this framework.


Also known as the Scaled Agile Framework, SAFe. The main difference between these frameworks is the principles that guide them.

Kanban Framework

Kanban is a method that falls under the scrum umbrella, but where Scrum is made to give structure and timelines for developers, Kanban helps with project management—which leads us to our next question.

How Can an Agile Coach Help a Project Manager?

Project managers are in charge of deliverables—so they are mainly focused on tracking, documenting, and reporting the project’s overall progress. This leaves little time to cultivate team collaboration—the foundation of excellent performance and product quality.

This is then that a coach takes on the role of facilitator. For example, maybe the business is hiring full-stack developers, and they need to collaborate with some offshore python programmers that have been working on a project since it was launched—an agile coach will make that communication process easy and effective.

How Do I Become an Agile Coach?

It is easy to get started on your agile journey right away. But how long does it take to become an agile coach? The average time is just a year.

There are many online and in-person places where you can earn your certificate in agile methodology. While all these certification courses claim they are the best to learn, make sure you research before registering. They are not all equal in quality.

An excellent place to start is taking a course in the basics of disciplined agile, which gives you the basics of the role and field. As you grow your expertise and experience, you can take more courses and tests to gain higher certifications. There is a lot of room for growth in the role.

Work on building your resume and portfolio to highlight your skills, experience, and specializations as you undergo certification. A competitive candidate will have strong experience and knowledge in both business acumen and IT.

Once you get your certificate, you enter a strong job market where blue-chip companies like Amazon and Apple strongly demand agile. With a typical starting salary of $90,000, becoming a certified agile coach is as worthy a venture for yourself as it is for the company that hires you.

If you are a great communicator that enjoys working and collaborating with others, a well-trained developer, and a professional with a keen eye for business trends, then agile leadership might be the right choice.

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