How to Get Most Out of a Centre of Excellence | NTT DATA

Tue, 16 April 2024

How to Get Most Out of a Centre of Excellence

Setting your business up for success

The concept of Centres of Excellence (CoE) has been prevalent in the corporate world for over two decades now. It involves a dedicated group of individuals tasked with enhancing efficiency and optimising the use of resources within business units. This team specialise in niche areas, providing specific direction, establishing best practices, and elevating the standard across multiple business units, if not the whole organisation.

Centres of Excellence need expert resources to truly excel. By separating them from business units and providing experienced resources, you can grow the scales of efficiencies exponentially, whilst maintaining the organisation’s culture and structure.


Starting a CoE

Culture and Project Methodology

The most important, and arguably the hardest step in setting up a Centre of Excellence is understanding your business culture. This understanding enables leadership to determine the most suitable project methodology which will add the most add value to its organisation and its clients.

While many organisations adopt a hybrid approach of waterfall and Agile, the degree of hybridity will vary depending on internal and external factors, necessitating thorough analysis before moving forwards. Additionally, obtaining buy-in from senior management is crucial:  they are the executors of the current business strategy and dictate future direction within the firm.



Once the culture and project methodology have been established, the next step in setting up the CoE is recruiting the right resources. Whether the business uses internal resources to form the CoE, or seeks external resources, they need to suit the selected approach. It is imperative to select a team that includes diverse skillsets and experiences, irrespective of the recruitment method chosen.

The CoE will be stronger for this decision, and its initial setup and introduction will be smoother and ultimately more effective if diversity of thought and experience forms the foundation of the team. Once this has been established, you can then move towards setting up best practices, boilerplate material, and standards that your CoE will uphold through templates, learning, and project assistance.


Business Analysis Centres of Excellence

Business Analysis Centres of Excellence (BACoE) share the same broad goals as other CoEs. They focus on increasing BA activities and efficiencies throughout the organisation and seeking additional value through several activities.


Main Activities

One of the main activities of any CoE is ensuring a level of standardisation throughout the business. This standardisation can be achieved through a few different methods:


Strategic Activities

The crucial distinction between an informal BA community and a BACoE within a firm lies in the BACoE ability to conduct strategic activities. The BACoE, through its research of the industry for best practices etc, can identify and recommend viable avenues of revenue to senior leadership. Leveraging their expertise, BAs can also prepare and validate multiple business cases for the Executive Committee’s review. Once the business case is accepted, the BACoE can then look to develop and shape the business architecture to ensure the BA landscape is best positioned to deliver on the business case(s).


Setting up Best Practices

Based on the prevailing industry best standards, the BACoE aims to establish a baseline standard for  business analysis delivery quality. Through existing asset analysis, both physical and intellectual, the BACoE can assess the current level of Business Analysis delivery quality. Using this information, the BACoE can create a set of high-quality and standardized BA artifacts and documents. Combining this with a code of conduct, a BACoE can quickly introduce a knowledge repository housing encompassing stakeholder and management tools, use case diagrams, and RASCI/RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Supportive, Consulted, and Informed), as well as project guides that form a best practices ethos.

This framework enables the BACoE to define a quality standard of approach for all the business analysis project stages, from planning and monitoring to execution and post-project reviews.

As a continually improving initiative, the BACoE iteratively enhances and refines the knowledge repository. Learning lessons from every project, successful tools and technologies are promoted, and challenges are presented to the community as learning opportunities. These help the BACoE set and maintain a culture of constant self-improvement.

Additonally, by governing the documentation and code of conduct, the BACoE promotes a unified BA approach to projects. This can help mitigate against some compliance risks, as well as make the auditing process for the business easier.


Learning and Development

The BACoE reinforces best practices by prioritising learning and professional development. This is achieved through the introduction of formal practices, such as training programs, or informal practices such as discussion forums. By encouraging resources to invest in self-improvement by completing assessments and completing certifications, a BACoE aims to continually elevate the business’ standards.


Consulting Support

The BACoE can also offer direct assistance to resources by providing coaching and/or mentorship. By providing SME expertise and facilitation in various aspects, the BACoE can provide short-term enhancements that yield compounding benefits in the long term. Functioning as a consulting support arm of multiple business units, the BACoE can provide support for under-resourced and/or critical projects.


What benefits will you find from starting a CoE?

  • Improved BA productivity and performance through learning and development efforts, BAs are given the knowledge, assistance, and support to thrive on projects.
  • Consistency and completeness of BA competency development through formalised career development and coaching frameworks, a first for staff
  • Improved project quality output. A BACoE’s support ensures that the same level of quality and professionalism is applied across projects.
  • Standardisation and adoption of industry leading ideas through clearly defined processes, standards, and tools will lead to reduced risk across the business.
  • Better collaboration across the BA community, sharing successes and areas of struggle on projects for community feedback. Sharing useful tools and technologies in discussion forums.


What does this mean for your business?

Centres of Excellence are formal structures of support that can have business-wide impacts on efficiency and staff projects. The introduction of a BACoE has several tangible and intangible benefits that can have compounding effects on the BA community in your organisation. By having dedicated resources committed to setting a culture of self-improvement, growth, and standardisation, an organisation can achieve much more than is possible with an informal community of practice.

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