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Building a World-Class Center of Excellence

by Prashanti Ramesh on November 5, 2021 in Blogs

 

Introducing new technology into the enterprise has never been easy, significantly when the solutions can fundamentally alter how an organization delivers its capabilities. In the grand scheme of enterprise-class technology adoption, most organizations are still exploring artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning, leveraging IoT, optimizing DevOps, and even establishing cloud strategies.

Establishing a core foundation provides the tools, people, and processes required to drive long-term business value for customers and shareholders, creating an environment conducive to the successful adoption of game-changing solutions. This entails investing in an organizational construct such as a Center of Excellence (CoE) for Business Technology. Let’s look at how to create such an organization.

The general concept of a business technology CoE is incorporated into everything from a skunkworks-oriented IT R&D team to full-fledged enterprise architecture organizations to today’s “innovation” teams over the years. These teams may constantly be assessing trends in business technology and making enterprise usage recommendations. At times, they document and establish governance over a corporation’s business, organizational, and technical constructs.

When these teams fail to fully establish the link between the new technologies and their ongoing, proactive, and immediate strategic value, problems arise. A well-defined CoE with a precise mission address both the tactical and strategic issues associated with implementing new solutions while remaining focused on the value the technology provides to the business.

Key Characteristics of a Successful Center of Excellence

To ensure enterprise-class implementation, the CoE must address the following areas. Some must be addressed before others, but all must be taken into account from the start. Although there is some overlap in terms of purpose, they are all necessary and complementary.

1. Architectural design:

The architecture establishes the road rules, guiding decision-making and connecting the actual technical solution to business priorities. The architecture includes the thought leadership and evangelism that will drive the adoption of the organization’s technology. Deliverables will consist of proofs of concept and prototypes that address specific business problems and serve as models for development teams, the selection of the best technology for the organization, and a detailed understanding of the business value derived from the technology investment.

2. Solution Development:

Attention has to be paid to ensure that the business functionality is implemented in a consistent and repeatable fashion, the bulk of the solution being acquired from suppliers rather than built in-house. Development leads are responsible for deep technical details of the technology, optimal methods for deploying and reusing its components, and ensuring that the solution is well-tested and exercised before the organization uses it.

The architecture and solution development teams should strive to ensure that their efforts are already in place at the organization. If you already use agile methods, these teams would seek to include product owners, develop epics and stories to drive implementation, etc. The Agile Manifesto principles provide excellent guidance for ensuring that the Center of Excellence is effective. Still, we will leave Agile, design thinking, DevOps, and other idea generation, development, or delivery methods for another time.

3. Infrastructure:

This includes everything that ensures establishing an enterprise-class foundation for the technology and the business solutions to be built upon it. The design has been set up to make it easy to deploy the technology stack in a highly available, scalable, recoverable, and secure setting. People who understand capacity planning and all aspects of infrastructure management would carry out these responsibilities. They would maximize the reuse of existing corporate IT resources like servers, network, storage, databases, application servers, middleware, etc., and adhere to established enterprise IT standards.

4. Post-implementation solution support:

The fourth category, post-implementation solution support, should be addressed far before the actual implementation. The solution is as vital as it can be to the achievement of business priorities. To make sure it functions optimally, systems and personnel need to be in place. This includes having the ability to monitor the solution from a performance, availability, and functionality perspective and ensuring the proactive escalation and resolution of any issues. Organizations may have separate groups responsible for infrastructure and operations. Similarly, new technologies will be leveraged by monitoring, service request management, and escalation systems already deployed in existing enterprise IT environments.

5. Staffing:

People should lead a business initiative, whether it’s a high-profile transformational initiative or not because it should be guided by those willing to push boundaries and engage in new methods to expand the business. The first team is tasked with driving change, so it must establish credibility and influence with the company and IT teams. The enterprise architecture team may be the most qualified to get started. A DevOps architect or site reliability engineer will be needed to ensure that automation and communications between the various parties involved in building and supporting the solutions are addressed.

Conclusion:

The discussion of education and the partnership with suppliers is present in all aspects of the CoE. No matter who the leading players are in the project, the new solutions need to be enabled to ensure long-term business value. Culturally, investing in employees’ skills in emerging technologies lessens their chances of taking their newly acquired expertise to competitors.

While technology can be an important factor in changing the industry, it cannot change itself. Technology can enable the transformation. Establishing a Center of Excellence that enables dedicated professionals to focus on applying a specific technology domain to business problems will allow the organization to reap more significant benefits from its investment in the technology.

 

To build an enterprise CoE for your organization or to talk to our experts send us an email: michelle@evolutyz.com

Reference: How to drive digital transformation via technology Centers of Excellence (COE) | The Enterprisers Project