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  4. Thursday, 06 October 2016
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From Patrick Lujan: What should a COE be? How should it be run? Why?

Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

Extremely important. But probably not the way as it is currently being exploited in many organisations! With that I obviously mean a team that gets assembled in order to "
[i]conduct and manage process maps.[/i]


A CoE typically offers structure to enable and support BPM initiatives and, most importantly, creates the required balance between people, process and technology. But it does not
[i]own [/i]
processes neither

You do need some sort of body that people can get to for help not only during an BPM related project, but certainly after the project. Experience has shown that the presence of a CoE is a critical success factor in successful implementation of BPM. The CoE is the arm of the BPM Governance board. Without it, governance of the environment and content will suffer, which will reduce the ability to achieve goals and maximize the investment made in the approach and tool solution. The effort required to maintain the CoE may be less than the hidden cost of poor governance.


A couple of tasks a CoE takes care of:
Implement the BPM strategy
Advise and recommend change to the BPM Governance Board
Monitor process governance / adherence to the standards and guidelines
Define and monitor skills profile & skills thinking
Create and manage implementation toolkit
Incl. methodology, mindset, best practice management, support
If needed, manages tool related challenges such as user licenses and permissions

Last but not least is that getting to a BPM supporting cultural organization is an extremely challenge. A well thought through CoE can be very instrumental here. See also my blog below.

  1. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-business-process-management-bpm-doesnt-work-you-walter-bril?trk=mp-author-card
What Walter said. Right there on empirics, experience and governance. #MicDrop
I'd also add that there needs to be a central body harping on the operational performance of the company's processes... developing the mindset to constantly ask the question "Is this a process problem".
  1. Emiel Kelly
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #2614
I agree with the points you mention. The only thing that always sounds weird to me is that it looks like BPM is something separate from daily operations. I don't like that. To me BPM = Daily operations. That's where the processes (and the shit) happens.

That's why I think (assume it is needed) a BPM CoE should have a coaching role. Coaching the shop floor to get better in executing, managing and improving processes. With the ultimate goal that they don't need a BPM CeO anymore, but that they become the BPM CeO!

BPM COEs almost invariably start in a centralized manner with one, two or a handful of SMEs moved into the COE (or consultants like moi) who do the coaching as the organization ramps up. And yeah, eventually, if I do my job right they become the COE and I go away. Unfortunately, I'm only batting .250 on that.
  1. Emiel Kelly
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #2616
;-)) Patrick.

I understand. But I forgot to mention that my ideal company size is 1.
  1. Walter Bril
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #2617
@Emiel: As soon as you "frame" a certain aspect of work, it tends to become "special".

So, yes, like anything else BPM should be common sense, or invisible incorporated. IMO process (knowledge, automation, documentation, collaboration etc.) is so fundamental to achieving your business goals, that it almost "deserves" a special place.
  1. Walter Bril
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #2618
@Emiel: LOL! Enter blockchain technology (there... I said it...)
  1. Emiel Kelly
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #2619
@Walter Processes always have special place; between customer and customer ;-)
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 1
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

One of my favourite systems architecting heuristics is “In introducing technological and social change, how you do it is often more important than what you do”.

Imagine – an enterprise wants to employ BPM in all its potentials. Obviously, a BPM COE is mandatory. BUT, the BPM COE must work as a rocket booster to quickly lift an enterprise to a proper level of maturity and then die.

So, the only BPM COE responsibility is that everything from the excellent Walter’s list must be embedded into enterprise standing practices.


  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 2
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

Important, at first. But should work to make itself redundant. Then, of course there's a question of how it's setup, who should be in it, it's funding model. Sigh... wish there was a manual for this...... wait a minute....

Here's one @RogerTregear prepared earlier:[url=http://info.leonardo.com.au/establishing-the-office-of-business-process-management]http://info.leonardo.com.au/establishing-the-office-of-business-process-management[/url]
  1. http://info.leonardo.com.au/establishing-the-office-of-business-process-management
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 3
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

"Why a BPM COE?"
[i] (Great question; but kind of acronym-heavy. If only we had a Chico Marx to answer, along the lines of "[url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3hjo7V7TPs]Why a duck[/url]?")[/i]

On a more serious note, certainly a BPM COE is a necessity;
[u]any demanding management and technical domain[/u]
requires focus. A BPM COE is the usual name given for the organizational entity focused on organization-wide BPM management and technology leadership. And there's lots of discussion available about "the importance of executive sponsorship" and "KPIs" and "clear strategy" and "process ownership" etc. etc.

Two questions though:

[u]What, if anything is unique about a BPM Center of Excellence concerning "BPM" specifically[/u]
, compared to any other organizational functional? Sometimes we talk about "BPM" and before long we are
[u]discussing the whole gamut of management practices[/u]
. And then the idea of "BPM" loses any specific analytic or management value. So let's see what we can learn from other more established -- and also very specific -- organizational functions concerning the
[u]domain-specific meaning of a centre of excellence[/u]

For example,
[u]the central accounting function[/u]
in any organization is a "
[u]center of excellence[/u]
" for accounting policies, procedures and practices. And then the
[u]actual work of accounting[/u]
is performed in each operating unit  according to these specifications. In the same way the
[u]actual work of process[/u]
could be performed in each operating unit according to
[u]BPM COE specifications uniquely applicable to that domain[/u]
. (Note that the central accounting function, under the CFO, doesn't go away . . . likely there will also be good reasons for
[u]long-term persistence[/u]
of the COE. )

[u]What is the relevance of BPM COE to SMB[/u]
, i.e. outside Fortune 1000-scale organizations? The standard recipes for BPM COEs have cadres of specialists. SMB organizations can't afford such O/H. And yet SMBs presumably have the same need for the services provided by BPM COEs.

For an answer, let's explore the COE. A BPM COE is the most visible expression of the
[u]radical nature of BPM as methodology and technology[/u]

In a
[b]2013 IBM RedBook[/b]
[b][url=http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/redpapers/pdfs/redp4898.pdf]Creating a BPM Center of Excellence[/url][/b]
, the word "
" is used nine (9) times in the opening sections!

[i]Why radical? My way of stating this (i.e. this isn't found in the RedBook) is to highlight that BPM is the only technology where the [quote][u]concepts of the work of business are first class citizens of the technology[/u]
. Every other technology
[u]mediates between idea and artefact[/u]
-- but with BPM, management can see
[u]ideas translated into business reality in record time[/u]
. And for this reason, BPM has the potential to be -- and ultimately should be -- the core technology for any enterprise (supplemented by other irreducible technologie such as busines rules, etc.)[/i][/quote]

Which brings us to the reason for a BPM COE.

BPM is important and
[u]a BPM programme is also demanding[/u]
. Successful BPM requires
[u]cultural change[/u]
(also a point made in the IBM paper). BPM COE may seem like "just another technology governance initiative", but this would be to
[u]miss the radical nature of BPM[/u]
. BPM requires
[u]unprecedented management attention to the black boxes of business processes[/u]
, which previously functioned more or less autonomously. What was
[u]tacit [/u]
is to become explicit. And the BPM COE is one answer to stepping up on explicit. A BPM COE therefore is about readying and driving the cultural change and governance required to build the process-oriented organization.
[i](A BPM COE is also about curating and maintaining access to the specific technical skills and practices of BPM.)[/i]

As such a BPM COE is not inexpensive. Governance requires a focus for a BPM programme, thus a BPM COE. And what about all those SMB organizations that also need BPM? And can't afford a COE? That's why there's a
[u]bright future for the BPM boutique consulting organization[/u]
. Call it "
Why not "Rent-an-BPM-COE"?
  1. John Morris
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #2626
Rent or hire, in both cases there's a big issue of trust.

And the boutique consulting service provider wins every time on trust over the majors.

No one cares that [name a big consulting organization] shops your junior SAP consultant down the street to your competition. Because the work is almost a commodity.

But with business process it's different. BPM and processes are like the crown jewels. Trust and long-standing relationships are essential. Thus, the boutique model, something I've had some little exposure to so far -- and the stories are really quite amazing.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 4
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

It all depends on the maturity of an organization and its journey with BPM. The less mature the more important the COE function. The more mature the less COE is relevant. The culture and the organizational set up of a business will also dictate the importance of COE. Plenty of situations where organizations don't have the buy-in, funding and structure to support a COE thus BPM has succeeded at a federated level without a COE. However, I would say COE is an important organizational approach for BPM, ie helping organizations to understand, adopt and accelerate outcomes, but there are many factors that manage true value of the COE approach for BPM..... to answer the question.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 5
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Sorry, but I am not a fan of functional unit COEs.

Are we to have a customer service COE, accounting COE, legal COE?

What if the corporation has a legal COE only? Does that mean the other functional units are not COEs?

I have been working for more than 5 years with a hosptial in WI that has a mission to become a COE in the area of Autism. We debated heavily during setup what a COE should be and how to get there.

See http://www.treffertcenter.com/

The result:

A research center/historical library plus a worldwide KBase comprising some 10,000 references (updated daily) to all known Autism treatment protocols, all grants awarded, researchers, papers in the works, papers published, all treatment centers (worldwide), all advocacy groups (worldwide), available resources.

The idea is when someone has questions that hospitals/clinics-in-general cannot answer they go to the COE and get quick answers or a pretty good estimate on how long it will take to provide an answer.

COE status, in my opinion, has to be earned.

Outsiders should be the ones to view an organizational entity as a COE, as opposed to a functional unit waking up one morning and saying "let's be a COE".
  1. John Morris
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #2620
Good point Walter about where BPM-relevant domain expertise (both process technology-related and function-related) should reside. If you are refering to my comment about concerning "BPM-as-functional-unit", in fact we are in agreement. A BPM COE is a shared service, a.k.a. a function comparable to a small central accounting function.
COE is not a function (a capability implemented in an enterprise), COE is a virtual group, COE is a Centre-Of-Expertise, COE is a service and COE must have short life-time (otherwise it is a failure).
@Alexander, sure, in the context of a capability, but in my healthcare services example, the corporation itself is a COE (Center of Excellence) and the intent is that term be permanent.

As there is no certificating agency that could go in an do an audit, the "state of maturity" is decided solely by reputation.

Looks like there is another meaning of COE (i.e.Center of Expertise) with different scope/duration etc.
  1. John Morris
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #2625
We are seeing examples now of CoEs in the provision of corporate financial services (F&A or FP&A), where the CoEs are intended to be permanent, and can be thought of as evolutions of the shared service idea. Here's one example:

The Next Wave in Finance & Accounting Shared Services – Establishing Centers of Expertise
scottmadden Management Consultants, 2014

Developing a Center of Excellence (COE) for Financial Planning & Analysis
Pharmaceutical Commerce, 2011

Process management and process technology are, like accounting and finance, sufficiently demanding to require specialization.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 6
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

On the general question, I guess I'd say it depends on whether the CoE is (a) group of talented, experienced individuals who can actually do things, or (b) an administrative and political bottleneck staffed by project managers and “process analysts” who know little about the business and even less about translating technology into business innovation.

I leave as an exercise to the reader to determine which would be preferable.

Scott's opinions only. Logo provided for identification purposes only.
For sure, (a), and better still "..group of talented, experienced individuals who have actually done things"
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 7
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Centers of Excellence?? I think most companies are deluding themselves and would be much better served by implementing Centers of Moderate Competency.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 8
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Does COE need BPM Yes but does BPM need COE... No.... A management feel good TLA that might help a focus on need to be better but no doubt treated with justified cynicism by real workers.....?
  1. John Morris
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #2627
OK, maybe we don't call it a COE -- the words put some people off. However, as I noted above, BPM does need some defined effort to push and support BPM. BPM is demanding both technically and business wise. If you don't "institutionalize" (even down to one person) the BPM programme, it's a safe bet you are hobbling yourself. Adoption of accounting practices proceeded the same way (to the Comptroller or Controller or CFO or Accountant or Bookkeeper or whoever is responsible for both "doing" and "organizing" and building"). Others have wondered on BPM.com whether the accounting function will eventually adopt BPM; there's ready-made institutionalization . . . but who knows if process and accounting should be managed by the same cadres.
John. Yes BPM does need that focus on "why" and COE certainly one aspect. Interestingly the accounting profession are now having to refocus on the creation of information to give assurance all is well and yes maybe BPM is on cusp of higher profile. I saw PwC have on their agenda.....frankly long overdue getting back to basics understanding the business processes not just relying on vendor systems pumping out information! BPM is the way to think when designing a new "outside in" system and should be supported by software that mirrors that thinking and so complexity removed? However I do not see the resultant application having a BPM tag ...call it what is does with a tag that highlights that change is not just supported but encouraged?
  1. John Morris
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #2630
David, your "outside-in" phrase and insight should become a hashtag or meme. There's more about the "collision" of BPM and accounting waiting for the intrepid . . .
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 9
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation


In my view, BPM has always (even before the term was invented) been core to operations where the mission is efficiency and effectiveness first, then process improvement, in that order.

Build processes, improve them then roll them out and run thousands of instances.

By all means, in the background, perform “continuous process improvement” but don’t say this is mostly what BPM is all about.

Go back to 1957 and once-through flow graphs and we have the antecedent to BPM (Critical Path Method) - it was deterministic, there was only one objective (i.e. that of cutting the ribbon), and it was core (and remains such) for anything to do with doing the right things, the right way, using the right resources, at the right time, within budget and with deliverables on spec.

I don't think consultants should feel that anything other than better pitches are needed for BPM.

Do we need to mention BPM? Not if next-in-line is a mandatory walk down a garden path to learn prerequisites that include languages, notations, and incantations.

So, mention BPM if it helps, but concentrate your pitch on efficiency and effectiveness improvement (who is not going to be interested in this?).

Help the customer to prepare ROIs that demonstrate the risks and the rewards. And, promote “lock them up” as the way to stop vendors from spewing out “saves time and money” bafflegab.

The real challenge is to narrow the gap between strategy and operations and in the area of operations we have two methods, BPM for orchestration, and ACM for governance (aren't these really all there is?)

Pitches seem easier when you say to customers that success in operations requires a Run Time environment called Case to enable setting a focus (i.e. read establish a cursor position in an rdbms) – and that we have, within Case . . .

a) Objectives with a way to assess progress non-subjectively (FOMM or Figuer of Merit Matrices from Rand Corp works fine).

b) Case-level and across-Case RALB (resource allocation, leveling and balancing).

So, go wih Case, because it accommodates any mix of structured and unstructured work, then add background BPM, ACM, RALB and FOMM and you have a winning formula.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 10
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

Having a small team that is instrumental to enable business improvement with processes, is key for every organisation.

But, organisational positioning and mandate should be right to make impact and to shape a process driven culture.

  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 11
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An organizational change is possible only when all the employees actively participate in the implementation of the change initiative.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 12
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