Editor's note: This article introduces the concept of a BPM center of excellence (CoE), sometimes called a BPM competency center, and offers tips for launching one.
If you could boil one common expert recommendation for business process management
initiatives down to a succinct formula for success, it might look something like
this: BPM + CoE = A+.
CoE, of course, stands for "center of excellence." (The acronym can
also refer to cost of energy, chief of engineers, cash operating expense and "cut
out early," but in the BPM universe, it's the first meaning that matters
While it's tough to find a single definition of CoE that meets with universal
agreement, such centers are typically designed to set standards, describe methodologies,
define best practices, provide BPM tools and templates, offer support and serve
as a source of guidance, expertise and skills.
Why bother with a CoE?
Because they work. In fact, Forrester Research calls CoEs "the secret sauce"
in the best BPM initiatives. "We have found a correlation between centers
of excellence and BPM success," says Connie Moore, vice president and research
director for Forrester Research. The reverse is also true, she says: BPM failures
often go hand-in-hand with the lack of a CoE.
Specifically, in one Forrester survey, 67 percent of respondents who reported
receiving clear and measurable benefits from their BPM initiatives had formal
CoEs. Among those reporting BPM failures, only 14 percent had such centers in
"It's hard to over-emphasize the importance of putting your core business
process improvement skills in a central group," she says. Ultimately, a
CoE can help improve and expand an organization's process skills-and that, in
turn, can boost the pace of BPM adoption.
Forrester isn't alone in evangelizing about the value of CoEs. Analysts at Gartner
Inc. also cite creation of a CoE-and the selection of the right expert to lead
it-as a BPM best practice. Asim Akram, senior manager of Accenture's Process
Architecture Group, describes the CoE as an important bridge between short-term
activity and a strategic, long-term approach to BPM.
"While focusing on tactical needs, organizations tend to overlook areas such
as process ownership and governance, roles and responsibilities, service levels
and standards that should be associated with any process initiatives," Akram
wrote in a recent article
for BPMInstitute.org. "A BPM center of excellence can help with all of these