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Six steps for setting up a digital center of excellence

Establishing a framework for digital transformation can help businesses to enhance collaboration and facilitate knowledge sharing to maximize the value of their technology investments.

While every company has its own take on digital transformation, many will agree that it’s not just an IT-driven project. At its core, digital transformation is about using the power of modern technologies to address business challenges and accomplish goals, which could range from increasing profitability to making the organization more resilient in a competitive environment.

To achieve the desired outcomes, those responsible for digital transformation need a sound understanding of the business and the way it operates. This intelligence helps to inform the technology strategy, in terms of which technologies are adopted and how these are leveraged to meet transformation goals.

In today’s dynamic business environment, it’s also important to be able to innovate and optimize as quickly and efficiently as possible. Agile and easily scalable technologies like digital process automation (DPA) can help to create an environment of continual transformation, but organizations also need to make sure that they have the right framework in place to maximize the business value of these technology investments.

An ideal way to approach this is to set up a Digital Transformation Center of Excellence (CoE).

Why set up a CoE?

A CoE that brings together both IT and business expertise can lay the foundation for strategic, structured, and efficient digital transformation projects, which put technology investments to optimum use.

Through research and training, a CoE can inspire innovation, while also ensuring that all projects are well-governed, and rolled out in line with best practices and all relevant industry regulations. Ideally, you want to create a hub that provides all stakeholders, from the development team to end-users in every department, with the skills, support, and tools they need to take full advantage of the technologies that are available to them.

Here are some pointers

Focus on processes first

Rather than applying new technologies to old processes, it often makes sense to overhaul processes first, before introducing automation and other digital capabilities. Through the CoE, multiple processes can be mapped out, making it easier to identify where manual and paper-based workloads are causing inefficiencies and risk. This also provides an opportunity to evaluate where cross-functional processes could be integrated and streamlined with technologies that can connect disparate systems.

Once specific process optimization projects have been prioritized, thorough user story mapping can help to establish a deeper understanding of user requirements and challenges, to systematically plan how these will be addressed.

Leverage skills and expertise

People are a critical component of any CoE. This is a platform for facilitating collaboration between technology experts, process optimization specialists, business unit leaders, and – importantly – end-users (who often have valuable ideas to contribute, because they understand the processes best). Drawing on all this expertise and practical on-the-ground knowledge from the beginning can help to ensure that solutions meet expectations.

Acting as a platform for sharing ideas and skills, the CoE can be both a seat of discovery and ongoing education, to ensure that all employees are allowed to benefit from – and buy into – the digital resources available to them.

Enhance collaboration

A CoE can help enterprises to break down information silo walls and increase collaboration between different departments. With all process optimization projects driven from one central location, business units are encouraged to work together and align their processes.

This helps to promote a more holistic and cohesive approach to digital transformation; avoiding a situation where a focus on tactical projects or immediate needs in one area of the business can drain resources and take priority over the organization’s long-term digital transformation strategy

Align technologies

Organizations can use a CoE to manage the process of selecting, adopting, and integrating new technologies. This involves educating all relevant business functions about the new technology investments and helping all stakeholders to understand the role that these new digital platforms will play in the broader transformation strategy.

Through a CoE, organizations can make sure that all technology investments are aligned with each other – in other words: that their capabilities are complementary and that these platforms can be easily integrated to support end-to-end process optimization.

On a more practical level, the CoE can be used to build technical skills and capacity; and enforce best practices for building digital assets on the new foundation of technologies.

Share knowledge 

To ensure that companies gain maximum ROI from their technology investments, they can use the CoE to drive core platform training and skills enablement for all developers and users. This way, those responsible for developing digital assets will have a sound understanding of best practices and governance frameworks, while users can learn how to take full advantage of their new productivity tools.

Encourage feedback

With agile technologies in place, it’s possible to continually optimize business process applications and other assets in line with user feedback. It’s therefore important to have a framework in place for efficiently collecting and acting on this user feedback.

Through the CoE, organizations can make sure that everyone is aware of all the digital assets available to them. This not only prevents departments from creating similar assets and thus wasting resources but also enables employees to access all the assets they need to solve business problems.

Hopefully, the training and awareness initiatives conducted through the CoE will inspire all employees to make optimum use of the assets available to them, as well as share constructive feedback. This way, everyone can play a valuable and active role in digital transformation.



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