A big focus during the first couple of days at the conference has been on Business Analysis Centers of Excellence (COE). There have been a number of sessions where the speaker has shared their experiences with setting up and maintaining a COE. There is a desire among BAs at an organization to have a community where the analysts can share ideas, create standards, develop best practices and document templates, and learn about what it takes to be a better BA. There were some instances where management iniated the creation of the COE, but in most cases it started as a grassroots effort among the BAs in the organization.
The purpose of a COE is to setup processes, controls and templates for the business analysis community within an organization to follow. More and more companies are realizing the necessity for this and are looking for ways to implement it. There are a few important things I learned during the conference about setting up and managing a COE.
Get buy-in from both management and the BAs
Most companies are not going to have the ability or desire to have dedicated resources work to create the COE. Therefore, it is going to fall on the BAs to work together to setup the needed framework. It is important to communicate to each of the BAs the benefits of a COE. The BAs are going to need to put in hours outside of their normal project work. Management needs to be aware of the benefits of the COE as well so they can provide the needed support. An important portion of the COE is training and management will need to provide the funds to purchase or the resources to develop the training. Here at CapTech we create a lot of our training in house which helps cut down on costs, but does require input and effort from the knowledgeable resources to create the materials and teach the classes.
Do not try to do everything at first
There are many things that could go into a Center of Excellence, but it is important to start small with items that can be implemented quickly and will yield positive results in a short period of time. If an organization is trying to do twenty different things that will all take two years to implement the analysts doing the work may become discouraged and the goals of the COE will never be reached. By choosing a few important pieces and getting those completed the organization will build momentum. For instance, the first think could be to create a monthly forum where analysts can gather to share ideas and frustrations. This can be organization fairly quickly with minimal effort, but will provide an immediate benefit to the BAs.
Tracking progress allows for the analysts and management to see what has been accomplished so far and what there is left to do. This will help to keep everyone encouraged and to see the benefits from the COE. The progress can be communicated through periodic status updates to the BA community and management.
As time goes on more and more organizations will begin to see the necessity of a Business Analysis Center of Excellence. Many times the work to implement the COE will come from within so it is important for the organizations to get some quick wins so there can be momentum built and buy in from the various stakeholders.