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Can a project manager become an agile coach?

Project Manager vs. Agile Coach

Before we go about whether a project manager can become an agile coach, understand who an agile coach is and project management?

Agile Coach

An agile coach is a person who helps in smoothly carrying out the process of transformation of a company’s operations to be adaptive to change. They design and improve agile methods through coaching, mentoring, teaching, and facilitation. They are well versed in agile practices, various frameworks like Scrum, SAFe, and LeSS. Team collaboration and coordination are also some of the traits of an agile coach.

Project Manager

Every organization requires project managers or product managers who quickly deliver the products according to the market and consumer insights. So now, let’s understand what a project manager does?

The main role of a project manager is concerned with planning, monitoring, controlling and executing, and closing all the projects running in the said organization successfully. They are the only ones who are responsible entirely for the project. So it’s a success as well as a failure. From the initiation stage to the project’s closing, they handle everything, including resources, cost, quality, communication, procurement, and risk management.

To better understand the difference between project managers and agile coaches, one needs to understand both roles and responsibilities.

Roles of a Project Manager

  • Planning for the entire project, along with resource planning, allocation, and formulating plans.
  • Efficiently leading the plan is the primary role of a project manager. They oversee all activities being conducted in a timely and accurate manner.
  • They execute the plans laid out in the beginning and side by side with the project.
  • Controlling by a project manager means assuring the deviation between plans set and work done.
  • The final role of the project manager is the closing of the project in a time-specific manner.

Roles of an Agile Coach

  • Integrating and coaching agile methodologies within the company
  • Helping, guiding, and training about the processes and the methods.
  • Transitioning teams to an agile working environment.
  • Coaching, mentoring and advising the agile scrum teams.
  • Close interaction with project management and product management teams for the successful completion of projects.

The roles of an agile coach and a project manager are pretty separate, and their roles and responsibilities differ. However, a project manager or a product manager looking to improve or upscale his career and become an agile coach can be a perfect fit.

Project management experience and leadership skills help significantly in the role of an agile coach, along with advisory, communication, and consultancy skills. It also gives an added advantage. A project manager who becomes an agile coach will be contributing more to the role, such as critical thinking, planning, and ensuring efficiency and efficacy. A project manager is originally a decision-maker, a problem solver, and a facilitator by nature, which is a bonus in an agile coach’s role.

Benefits of becoming an Agile coach for a Project Manager

  • Focus on teamwork and interactions
  • Practically working on software
  • To avoid documentations
  • Collaboration rather than negotiation
  • Changing dynamics rather than devising a plan
  • Leading, advising, and mentoring.

The meaning of a coach is who advises, mentors, and guides on who to carry out the work in a proper manner. By becoming an agile coach, a project manager is adopting an advisory role to put the skills he learned in the past to practical use and communicate them to others. Coaching is all about team performance and improvement, which the project manager can indeed ensure. The agile coaching role demands you to work closely with the project managers. Hence, the project managers are also quite aware of all the roles and responsibilities of the agile coaching role and can even conduct the same role with more precision.

People who are more interested in having hands-on experience or practical experience of agile approaches and principles and who want to switch their roles from being a project manager are indeed given the role of an agile coach.

A project manager can undoubtedly be an agile coach. This is because it makes a perfect combination of a management role as well as a coaching role. However, being an Agile Coach after being a project manager also comes with a few challenges as the role is not the same as it was before.

You no longer have to be focused on the results or the outcomes. Instead, you give direction to the path of success to the agile team. You will now have a more prominent role in the team, where you are concerned with how they work rather than ‘What’ they are doing. Being an Agile coach is more about being a leader than a doer. This role also allows you to go freely with your ideas about a product or a project.

This post is not to convince you to move into the agile coach role but to help in understanding what these two roles are. Project Management is an evergreen field, and many project managers enjoy their success in a project management role. If you are exploring what it takes to be a successful agile coach, then feel free to read here what agile coaching is



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