Building The Right Center Of Excellence For You

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SIG University Certified Intelligent Automation Professional (CIAP) program graduate Nick Fratto discusses how building a center of excellence for your organization can serve as a backbone for process automation projects.

In the Certified Intelligent Automation Professional certification, I was introduced to creating a center of excellence to serve as the backbone behind a process automation project. The idea of the center of excellence is that it serves as the overall process management system. While the design of the center of excellence can vary from organization to organization, the purpose is always the same. Guide an automation project from its conception and support it as the new process becomes business as usual.
The COE should always be specifically designed to meet the requirements of an organization. They cannot be cookie-cutter. A successful COE framework in one organization will only necessarily be successful again if implemented following the same standards. These functions need to be designed based on the actual day-to-day operations of your organization. In some cases, a formal COE does not need to be created if the duties and responsibilities have been addressed and attended to by relevant stakeholders. An automation project can only be successful if it has the proper foundation.
Building a COE starts during the initialization phase of the automation process. This process must start at the same time as the journey begins so that it can grow and mature alongside the actual processes that are taking place. The most important thing to understand about building a COE is that it will take many iterations to perfect. The realities of how things are done vs. how they were pictured conceptually usually have drastic differences. This means that the team needs to revise processes to ensure they fit into how the organization operates honestly.
The bulk of the COE design is during the industrialization phase of the automation process. Here, the COE will evolve to effectively work through 5 essential tasks starting with creating strategic objectives. The COE (or the assigned stakeholders in an informal COE) must drive automation initiatives. It is also responsible for developing the methodologies to make it happen. The COE will determine the skills, tools, and processes required to complete the project successfully. After figuring out the what and the how it is now the responsibility of the COE to consider what governance structure needs to be set in place. Having assigned roles and responsibilities will ensure no lag in the process.
It will create an appropriate channel to turn to if there is ever an issue with the automation. Having the proper governance structure allows the COE to transition to supporting the automation project, which is crucial to its success. The COE is responsible for dealing with the ongoing iterations of the automation process. Lastly, a successful COE can work with the information technology team to meet the specific requirements of their environment. An automation project can be precious, but it will only yield a positive result if all the company data is protected.
The five responsibilities outlined above need to be fulfilled within any organization that you look at if they want to have a successful automation project. However, in terms of COE design and its formality, how they get there is entirely organization-dependent. For example, SIG, the organization that I work at, is very small. We would most likely assign roles to crucial stakeholders but need the entire team to work together to ensure this is successful. We are an excellent example of a centralized COE framework.
An automation project is like a child. There are many different “parenting” techniques. Still, it all boils down to one thing if you do not give the child the proper support and guidance while it is in its infancy. It will not have the necessary skills and tools to be successful in real-world situations. It is the same for an automation project. These projects are all about the backbone that supports them.
Suppose the processes to keep automation in check are weak. In that case, the project will either fail or not create value like it was designed (and invested lots of money) for it to do. If I could only have one takeaway from the entire certification, it would be that you are only as strong as your weakest process. If you do not have a contingency plan in place for when something goes wrong, you better get to work.

The Certified Intelligent Automation Professional program is a six-week course delivered through SIG University’s unique education platform. Visit our website to learn more about intelligent process automation and enroll for the upcoming semester.


Nick Fratto, Sales Enablement Specialist, Sourcing Industry Group

Nick Fratto is a connector, a relationship-builder, a process-oriented, and a technology-loving sales professional. He is a graduate of Bryant University’s class of 2021 with a degree in business administration, concentrating in marketing, sales & sociology.  He has found a passion for working with sourcing and procurement professionals with experiences working for organizations like Fairmarkit and the Sourcing Industry Group.