The Agile Mentor most commonly sits outside of the project team and has significant experience of agile projects. They share that experience with the rest of the project team, helping them to perform at a higher level.
They are not there to teach the team about agile practices, but to help improve and advance their existing skills.
Why use an Agile Mentor?
Organisations employ Agile Mentors when they move away from their traditional working practices. For an organisation who use the Waterfall method for example, it is unlikely that their current project team will be experts in agile practices, and as such, the organisation need to bring that expertise in, in the form of an Agile Mentor.
Agile is a pretty simple methodology to understand but can be difficult to implement, this is why organisations experience problems when changing their methods of working. Despite it’s one-size-fits-all appeal, different situations and organisations affect how well it works. Agile Mentors are invaluable in situations where everything has been done correctly but the expected results aren’t delivered.
Characteristics of an Agile Mentor
- Holds a mentor/coaching role outside of the immediate project team.
- Tends to be a person external to the organisation.
- Provides objective guidance to the team without political or personal bias.
- Is an expert in agile with significant experience of implementation in different organisations, cultures and environments, and of various sizes and complexity.
Responsibilities of an Agile Mentor
The Agile Mentor educates all employees, and, sometimes clients about the principles of agile. Through training sessions, the Agile Mentor provide them with the tools that they need to implement agile within projects and across the organisation as a whole.
Mentor the project team
Proving hands-on support to the project team, the Agile Mentor guides them through the methodology, giving feedback and tips for improvement, whilst answering questions. This collaboration happens across different levels and roles, leading to overall organisational growth.
Developing and implementing agile strategy and methodology
The Agile Mentor will develop an organisational strategy for the adoption of agile practices. This strategy covers every stage, including introducing agile and educating employees, to implementing and sustaining the methodologies whilst continually suggesting improvements.
To be successful, the Agile Mentor must be passionate about agile and its benefits, and strict in the adherence to its processes.
It will be expected that the Agile Mentor has experience of coaching at organisations of varying sizes, particularly large organisations.
Away from agile, they must be skilled educators with strong coaching abilities, and as such, will have excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to inspire and motivate others.
To maintain their expertise, Agile Mentors should undertake continuous professional development. This will enable them to stay ahead and ensure that they deliver the most up-to-date information and techniques to their agile teams.
Although formal qualifications are not a core skill that Agile Mentors must possess, they do provide an added advantage.
The most common qualifications are the Scrum Coach certification or the Scrum Master certification.
Any project management team can benefit from having an Agile Mentor. Their varied experience and external viewpoint helps the Scrum Master and Project Team to see how things can be done differently, particularly in areas where the project isn’t going to plan.
For an overview of the key roles in agile project management, you may want to take a look at Overview of Agile Project Management Roles.