A center of excellence (CoE) is a team or a department that leads and supports the organization in a specific focus area, such as technology, process, or domain. The purpose of a CoE is to improve expertise, best practices, and performance in that area and to share them with the rest of the organization.
Setting up a CoE can bring many benefits to an organization, such as:
- Enhancing quality and efficiency
- Reducing costs and risks
- Increasing innovation and collaboration
- Driving business value and growth
However, setting up a CoE also involves many challenges and considerations, such as:
- Defining the scope and goals of the CoE
- Aligning the CoE with the organizational strategy and culture
- Securing the resources and support for the CoE
- Measuring and communicating the impact of the CoE
How to Set up a Center of Excellence
To help you set up a successful CoE, here are some steps you can follow:
- Define the strategy and vision of the center of excellence. The first step is to clarify why you need a CoE and what you want to achieve with it. You should identify the focus area, the objectives, the scope, and the expected outcomes of the CoE. You should also define the vision and mission statements of the CoE that reflect its purpose and value proposition1.
- Establish the governance and structure of the CoE. The next step is to determine how the CoE will be organized and managed. You should decide on the roles and responsibilities of the CoE team members, as well as their reporting lines and communication channels. You should also define the policies and procedures that will guide the CoE operations, such as decision-making, budgeting, risk management, quality assurance, etc1.
- Secure the resources and support for the CoE. The third step is to ensure that the CoE has adequate resources and support to function effectively. You should identify the human, financial, technical, and physical resources that are needed for the CoE activities, as well as their sources and allocation. You should also seek buy-in and sponsorship from senior management and other stakeholders who can influence or benefit from the CoE2.
- Build the capabilities and competencies of the CoE. The fourth step is to develop the skills and knowledge of the CoE team members and other relevant staff in the organization. You should assess the current and desired levels of capabilities and competencies in the focus area of the CoE, as well as any gaps or needs. You should then design and implement training programs, coaching sessions, mentoring schemes, or other learning interventions to address them2.
- Implement and monitor the projects and initiatives of the CoE. The fifth step is to execute and evaluate the projects and initiatives that are aligned with the goals and scope of the CoE. You should follow a project management methodology that ensures clear planning, execution, control, and closure of each project or initiative. You should also establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that measure the progress, quality, efficiency, effectiveness, and impact of each project or initiative3.
- Communicate and share the results and best practices of the CoE. The final step is to communicate and share the results and best practices of the CoE with the rest of the organization and external stakeholders. You should use various communication channels and formats, such as reports, presentations, newsletters, webinars, workshops, etc., to
- showcase the achievements and learnings of the center of excellence. You should also create and maintain a knowledge repository that documents and stores the best practices, tools, templates, and lessons learned from the CoE. You should encourage and facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration among the CoE team members and other staff in the organization.
- By following these steps, you can set up a center of excellence that can help your organization improve its performance and competitiveness in a specific focus area. However, you should also keep in mind that setting up a center of excellence is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that requires constant monitoring, evaluation, and improvement. You should regularly review and update the strategy, vision, goals, scope, structure, governance, resources, capabilities, projects, initiatives, results, and best practices of the CoE to ensure they remain relevant and effective.
Related to Center of Excellence
- Center of Experience
- Governance (Component of the Center of Experience)
Book: The Center of Experience (2020) by Greg Kihlström