6 Steps to Building a Center of Excellence

A Center of Excellence (CoE) is a vital component of any organization who wants to realize digital transformation across their business. 

Gartner describes effective CoEs as “concentrating existing expertise and resources in a discipline or capability to attain and sustain world-class performance and value.”  

In the context of process management and automation, concentrating these expertise and resources in a Center of Excellence framework means that when you scale-up production you can realize economies of scale, with a decreased turnaround time for generating additional workflows and reduced costs in production.   

COVID-19 has compressed corporate budgets, reduced the workforce, and disrupted company processes worldwide. Many organizations now face the challenge of adapting to a new normal or suffering adverse economic effects. So, A Center of Excellence is an excellent way to ensure alignment around a common purpose.

Find out more in our on-demand webinar
6 Critical Questions to Ask Before Establishing Your Center of Excellence.

One Bizagi customer, a global consumer goods manufacturer, presented the following six steps at Bizagi’s global conference, Catalyst 19. They shared how they created their own CoE, internally dubbed as their “Process Factory”, in keeping with their manufacturing roots.  

From defining clear design principles, through to how to continuously improve processes, here are six steps to help you establish your own CoE.  

center of excellence

STEP 1: Define clear design principles and best practices 

In order to make your solution adaptable to business changes and resilient to any issues that may arise, such as platform outages and security problems, you need to define clear rules on how to build solutions.  

Each step of your processes needs to have logging, traceability and support the solution long-term. This helps bake traceability, adaptability, and resilience into your projects and sets you off on the right foot with the promise of longevity in your approach. So, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time and will deliver a faster turnaround of your processes.  

STEP 2: Assemble a strong team with the right attitude  

A critical success factor is having a team that embraces innovation. They cannot innovate if they are afraid of risk. You can train anyone to use technology. However, it’s important to have a natural appetite for innovation and a willingness to take calculated risks.  

This requires the ability to fail fast. So, all team members must be comfortable with taking risks and subsequently share and learn of their mistakes. By failing fast, your team can work in an agile way to deliver continuous improvement. Fast failure can help lead to fast results. Bring integrity and energy to the team, with a sense of ownership in joint successes.

STEP 3: Build an arsenal of reusable components   

An arsenal of reusable components can deliver value and speed to your organization. A component can be something as simple as a template for a document, or something that developers create. Everything that’s designed should be built so it can be used across multiple use cases.  

For example, an approval workflow that takes two months to build can be made configurable so someone can choose how many levels of approvers it has, who makes the approvals at each level, what the rejection path looks like, etc. These configurations mean that approval workflows can be deployed in days or even hours rather than months, so you can really drive agility.  

This will help to save money on build fees because you don’t have to build workflows multiple times – just once with configurable iterations. It also gives faster turnaround times and higher quality output, as you’re reusing items that have already been tested.  

STEP 4: Establish stable, monitored environments 

It’s important to create proactive monitoring routines as part of your CoE. Establishing repeated quality assurance and platform testing processes means you can rest assured that production changes adhere to best practice.  

Working with Bizagi, you can enlist Bizagi’s professional services team to get Bizagi working in conjunction with your organization’s systems. Whether you’re working with a cloud-based or on-prem solution, this provides a quicker resolution of issues.  

STEP 5: Continuously improve processes 

Create an iterative methodology to ensure that everything is being done the right way, at the right time, with the right people involved. It’s wise to establish an intake process, which includes a three-tiered assessment to help identify items that are suitable for automation based on:  

1) Suitability – is the process mature and stable enough to automate?  

2) Complexity – assess the integrations and languages involved and  

3) Business value to assess what the savings will be, whether it’s a saving of time or money.    

Alongside this, you should also set up retrospective processes for continuous learning. By establishing a documentation repository for holding all team artifacts, team members can check information and learn as they go. This will help accelerate time-to-market and improve quality.  

STEP 6: Design lightweight, consistent governance 

Finally, you need to design lightweight, consistent governance to ensure compliance and best practice are met. Create exceptions-based approval processes; get your security and infrastructure teams to provide checklists of areas where they would need to be consulted. This means that these teams only have to review five or so requests each month, rather than 90. Only after things pass through the governance gate can they enter the sprint cycle of plan, test, build, deploy, and then retrospective. This final step is an important part of the continuous improvement that is discussed in step 5.  

This helps to increase efficiency by engaging the right people at the right time. It will also improve quality and reduce the rework rate as the checks ensure processes are correct the first time around. 

The success of a Center of Excellence in action 

The global consumer goods manufacturer used these principles to roll out their own Center of Excellence. Since the launch, costs to build new workflows have decreased by more than 70%. Run costs have significantly reduced because they have not had to expand their support team at all, despite nearly doubling the number of processes. They can now proactively see what is being sent to people to help them be more efficient. 

Along with the reduction in build costs, the delivery times were reduced to 50% thanks to an agile approach and reusable components. They anticipate that the speed of delivery will only get faster as more reusable components are created. Re-use has also saved significant money: the organization has tracked cost avoidance achieved through its reusable components and have saved over $800,000 in just eight months, with the processes returning millions in savings overall.   

Most of these processes have been rolled out in the global marketing department to make sure that all digital assets are available to everyone all over the world, with the right metadata and approval, ready for use by anyone who needs them. Additionally, processes are being rolled out in finance for approvals and new product development to establish if it is cost-effective to create a new product.  

The organization is continuing to see significant expansion, with more than one request for new workflows per month. They’re also expanding capabilities by connecting Bizagi with their enterprise service bus, so any application can launch a workflow.  

If you’d like to find out more, download our guide, ‘How to Create a Center of Excellence for Digital Transformation’.