Is your organization considering digital transformation? Even amid the unexpected events of 2020, research shows that 70% of companies are either maintaining or increasing their spending in this realm.

If your organization decides to embark on this journey, it’s time to start thinking about building a digital center of excellence (COE). Today, we’re sharing exactly what this means and why it’s worth pursuing as you consider investing in the tools and technologies that can drive your company forward. 

What is a Digital COE?

Is COE just another three-letter acronym reserved for C-suite executives who only speak in jargon?

Not at all. A COE is something that any organization can build.

At its core, a center of excellence is a team of specialists all working toward a common aim. These specialists bring various backgrounds, educations and experiences to the table, and each one is integral. Though their areas of focus may be different, they’re well-versed in the organization as a whole, including what it takes to succeed.

You see, each of these specialists understands how the entire business value chain works. They’re also familiar with customer expectations and your company’s technology infrastructure.

Not every COE is a digital COE. It is only considered a digital COE if it’s primarily focused on digital operations. It is similar to an ERP center of excellence.

Change Management Case Study

We helped this manufacturing organization prepare its employees for new technology and processes.

Why do I Need a Digital COE?

If you’re already focused on transitioning from legacy systems onto a new digital platform, and you have enough resources, time and budget, then why should building a digital COE be top of mind?

The answer is simple: Without the right resources in place, your best-laid plans could take you in circles. 

A digital COE gives you the internal infrastructure necessary to compete with digitally disruptive competitors. In other words, it enables your organization to transform its structure, culture, technology and customer experience. 

In addition, a digital COE facilitates collaboration between your company’s various digital stakeholders, including:

 

  • Technology experts
  • Process optimization specialists
  • Business unit leaders
  • End-users

How to Build a Digital COE

Now that we’ve covered what a digital COE entails, let’s take a closer look at how you can begin building one in your own organization.

1. Prioritize Your COE

When you decide to undergo a digital transformation, it’s tempting to rush right into the ERP selection process. However, it’s important to take a step back and ensure your internal foundation is firm.

You can do this by building a digital COE and relying on this team to help you map your current business processes and look for pain points. This informs your digital strategy, revealing which technologies you should adopt and how they should be leveraged to meet your ongoing business goals.

2. Keep Customers at the Center

Ultimately, every investment your company makes, from marketing collateral to ERP software, has the same overarching focus: your target audience.

For this reason, your digital COE should likewise be customer minded. In fact, one of your first steps should be tasking your COE with understanding your customers’ needs. Without an understating of customer needs, you could wind up straining the corporate budget on resources that your buyers don’t connect with or use. 

As your COE analyzes buying patterns and reviews customer feedback, it also should map out the individual journey each customer should take. This ensures that your future state business processes support a seamless customer journey.

center of digital excellence

3. Diversify Roles

Not every person in your COE will be responsible for the same tasks. Rather, the beauty and functionality of this group lies in its diverse mix of talents and skill sets. 

Use this to your advantage and assign different roles and priorities depending on each person’s core competencies. These might include:

 

  • Compliance
  • Regulatory issues
  • Planning
  • Maintenance
  • Finance
  • Quality assurance

4. Leverage the COE for Change Management Support

Members of your digital COE will work alongside your other employees, acting as their champion and key resource. As organizational changes are rolled out, these team members will report on the status and keep employees up to date on key milestones. 

This team also can facilitate user adoption by assisting with change management efforts. Before, during and after an ERP implementation, your COE should help provide stakeholders with the skills, support and tools they need to take advantage of new technologies.

5. Focus on Continuous Improvement

In the time that follows a digital transformation, there are bound to be inevitable kinks to work out and adjustments to make. An ERP system that you thought was user-friendly might prove otherwise, and a new process may not be as efficient as you first imagined. 

This is another place your COE can take action. Task these individuals with continually optimizing business processes and technology based on user feedback. This might require simple adjustments, or it might require business process reengineering, depending on the scale of the situation. 

Focusing on continuous improvement is one way to ensure that employees feel involved and that they continue to embrace organizational changes.

A COE is Key to Digital Transformation

In the time that follows a digital transformation, there are bound to be inevitable kinks to work out and adjustments to make. An ERP system that you thought was user-friendly might prove otherwise, and a new process may not be as efficient as you first imagined. 

This is another place your COE can take action. Task these individuals with continually optimizing business processes and technology based on user feedback. This might require simple adjustments, or it might require business process reengineering, depending on the scale of the situation. 

Focusing on continuous improvement is one way to ensure that employees feel involved and that they continue to embrace organizational changes.

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