The Center of Excellence: much more than a tool shop

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Our recent global survey highlights a couple of aspects of BPM experience that underline the importance of governance – something that we believe is best delivered via a Center of Excellence (CoE). Firstly, 82% of our survey respondents say BPM should be a C-Level concern. In organizations where this is the case, processes tend to […]

Our recent global survey highlights a couple of aspects of BPM experience that underline the importance of governance – something that we believe is best delivered via a Center of Excellence (CoE).

Firstly, 82% of our survey respondents say BPM should be a C-Level concern. In organizations where this is the case, processes tend to be mature. So there’s a clear link between CxO involvement with BPM and improved performance, both of processes and of the organization as a whole.

 

 

 

 

 

A second striking finding from the survey is how many organizations identify silo culture as a key inhibitor to project success.

These responses raise two important questions:
• How does CxO involvement translate into better performance, and what is it that these organizations are doing (and that others need to do) to achieve these results?
• How do you prevent interdepartmental squabbles, or manage them through to a successful conclusion?
In our view, the answer to both questions lies in governance – and governance is best achieved by putting in place an effective CoE: a dedicated governing body for the efficient utilization of BPM, and the resources and assets associated with it.

How does a CoE help?

 CxOs’ input to BPM is critically important, but they rarely have the time to resolve the ongoing daily issues that occur in running a program. The CoE makes the most of that scarce CxO time by taking care of day-to-day governance issues (including inter-silo differences), so that the CxO can focus on the strategic aspects of BPM. A CoE that has clear backing from a BPM-aware CxO acts as an extension of the CxO, helping to ensure that BPM is taken seriously by the whole organization.

What do we mean by a CoE?

Here at Capgemini we take a wider view than most of what constitutes a CoE. Typically, organizations are content to sit 10 developers in a room and call them the CoE. If there is a slightly greater level of sophistication, the CoE will also include some best practices relating to delivery, development standards, methods, and tools.
However, what these rudimentary CoEs miss is the governance element – and our survey tells us that that’s the most valuable aspect of a CoE. Governance is what gets the departments talking to one another. It also provides a framework for resolving inter-silo issues. The result is better processes, and better performance.
To succeed in overcoming the problem of the silo culture, the role of the CoE must include:
• Aligning goals and objectives
• Resolving disputes about priorities and methods
• Allocating resources
The CoE may also perform a range of other functions, shown on the diagram below.

 CoEs can carry out a wide range of functions


How governance via a CoE overcomes silo issues
Cross-functional processes are typically hampered by individuals who:
• Are protecting fiefdoms
• Have unaligned objectives
• Are unable or unwilling to agree on priorities
• Are protecting current systems or processes

A CoE governance structure should mediate and manage these types of issues. The CoE should have sufficient authority to decide business priorities, and to persuade recalcitrant managers to toe the line in the name of shared objectives, rather than insisting on goals of their own.

Three elements are needed: a forum for debate (the Business Architecture Design group), a group with the authority to enforce the forum’s decisions (the Design Authority), and a joint business-IT forum to oversee the whole process (the Steering Committee).

      Possible decision-making structure for a CoE

Giving the business a voice
The role of the Business Architecture Design group is to allow business issues to be properly debated and aired. IT people are usually relatively experienced and sophisticated in using this type of forum, and can dominate business users who are often trying this way of working for the first time.

It’s important therefore to encourage business users to participate in debating and resolving issues. Indeed, many decisions are purely business-related and require little or no input from IT, though IT will of course be represented in the Business Architecture Design group, and on the Steering Committee.

Governance via a CoE: the key to better performance
Governance and the related processes and frameworks should be a central part of the CoE remit. A CoE that takes responsibility for governance, and that is backed by the CxO, can resolve inter-silo issues, allowing the organization to achieve better and better performance.

At Capgemini we have many years of experience using CoEs for BPM, both in-house and with clients. If you need help with getting more from an existing CoE, or are thinking about starting one, talk to us about our five-day Rapid Assessment service.

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