What is a Center of Excellence (CoE)?
If you ask 10 people to give you a definition of what a Center of Excellence is, chances are you’ll end up with 11 different answers. Before we dive too deep then, the first thing that I’d like to introduce is how we at Nintex define a CoE:
Comprised of highly skilled people, a CoE’s mission is to develop and deliver best practices within their area of speciality.
To do this, the CoE must develop and maintain a library of reusable standards, methodologies, and artefacts to produce a higher quality of output and boost speed of delivery within the organization.
While this is a good starting point, not all CoEs are the same, rather the roles and responsibilities of the CoE will need to be defined by each organization. So, going one level deeper, here are the three approaches that a CoE might take:
Under a centralized approach the CoE will execute on behalf of the Line of Business (LoB); this might involve running workshops to understand what the as is process looks like, documenting the process in Promapp, reviewing the process with SMEs to identify opportunities for improvement, and building automated solutions where necessary. On the other extreme an organization might adopt a decentralized approach wherein they ask the LoB to perform all of these execution activities themselves, and the CoE simply enables them to do so by building frameworks and providing support. Alternatively, there is a hybrid approach which involves the CoB and LoB sharing the execution activities, with the CoE providing resources and capabilities where needed.
As you might imagine, each approach has its own advantages over the others:
Advantages of a Centralized approach
Ensures that the quality of development is consistent and in accordance with the established standards
Accelerates the development of solutions
Reduces the time and cost of development through specialization and economies of scale
Helps prevent shadow IT
Minimizes the duplication of work through the creation of reusable assets
Allows the business to focus on their day job
Ability to implement strong governance frameworks
Advantages of a Decentralized approach
Empowers Process Owners and Participants to improve their own processes
Higher adoption from the business for solutions that they build
Uncovers use cases that would otherwise have not been known
More rapid expansion through the business through the elimination of bottlenecks
Lower central resource overhead requirements
With each approach having its own advantages, the question that should be asked is not, ‘what is the best approach', rather ‘what is the best approach for me?’. We believe that you need to align your CoE approach with the maturity of your business and, as your maturity evolves, so should your CoE. This then is the topic for next week’s post where we will explore what business maturity is, how to assess your level of maturity, and how this should influence that approach that your CoE adopts.