Center of Excellence
What are some of the specific services a COE provides?
A Center of Excellence (COE) is a cross-functional team that supports all business sectors in planning and implementing strategic initiatives. Apart from tactically supporting the projects on hand, several services provided by the COE support the organization’s strategic goals while maintaining the overall Pega maturity.
Develop a clear vision and approach to Pega initiatives.
The COE ensures the right projects are implemented the right way and – equally crucial – projects that deliver significant ROI and/or fit the organization’s strategic goals are treated with a higher priority.
Establish and foster partnership and trust between the Business and IT.
The COE lives in the grey area between IT and the business and empowers the business and enables collaboration through promoting agile methodologies such as Pega Scrum.
Integrate process optimization and innovative engineering efforts.
There is a constrained value in automating a non-optimized existing process. The COE aims to ensure that all processes have been duly optimized before implementation.
Define and promote the best practices.
The “value addition” aspect of the COE includes creation and ownership of the project planning approach, architectural standards, and processes in support of project delivery (build management, application migration, testing, monitoring etc.)
Establish a proper technical governance.
On par with defining and promoting standards and best practices, it’s equally vital for COE to ensure the project teams adhere to technical governance. This governance is specific to Pega projects and is in addition to the standard program/project governance. Technical governance is implemented through application reviews looking at various aspects of the application, e.g. design, performance, configuration, reuse, usability, phase readiness, etc. and follow up activities based on a set of recommendations.
Evolve reuse strategies and centralize the shared asset creation and consumption process
It’s not an easy task to perform effective reuse across an organization. It doesn’t happen automatically too. The COE drives the organization from adhoc reuse to a comprehensive reuse strategy.
Drive process maturity within the organization.
The ultimate goal of the COE is to advance process and develop maturity within the organization. This objective is usually achieved by aligning the individual needs of the business with the organization’s overall goals.
Standardize Pega project delivery.
The COE develops an optimal delivery process that combines Pega’s best practices with the organization’s SDLC requirements. When this is established, the COE enables the delivery teams (including the business) on the delivery process and their specific roles.
Drive continuous process improvement of Pega initiatives.
As the owner of the delivery process, the COE is also responsible for improving the process as the organization changes or the methodology evolves.
Determine the fit of business initiatives with Pega Platform.
While a project is an excellent candidate from a business perspective, there could be significant architectural or technical obstacles that may negate the business benefit. The COE needs to be part of a project selection process where it can be a champion for Pega.
Promote the use of the shared asset library.
A valuable asset of the COE is the shared asset library. Acting as the representative of the library, the COE approves new assets when they are submitted for inclusion, oversees and supports the search and consumption of assets by individual project teams and promotes their value.
Delivery partner management and control
For organizations using delivery partners to implement Pega projects, the COE is critical to ensure the deliverables meet best practices and expected quality standards The COE also ensures that partners take advantage of the asset library and follow the delivery process mandated by the organization.
Ensure Pega project staff enablement, rotation, and retention.
It’s crucial for any Pega project to have the right people with the right skills as part of the project teams, including business resources. If the project staff is a revolving group of individuals, the COE needs to ensure they are enabled and ready to do their part on a project.
Perform R&D projects.
Depending on the capacity and skill set of its resources, the COE undertakes specific prototyping or development tasks which might include piloting new product features, proactively building reusable components, or refactoring assets for reuse.
Getting the Most out of a COE: Creating a Partnership with Business Lines.
A successful COE adds a substantial value to the Pega project teams and the organization alike. COE supports the complete project lifecycle from portfolio planning and project intake, to project delivery, market launch, and operations. The following goals are focused on creating opportunities for the COE to engage with business owners and/or project teams.
- Project retrospective takeaways
- Closure of enablement gaps
- Improve delivery process
- Project resource selection
- Phase readiness assessments
- Ensure best practices through expert services
- Shared asset library
- Project kick-off meetings
- Project planning
- Mentoring and coaching
- DCO session facilitation
- Enablement planning
- Community of practice
- Methodology oversight
- Delivery process ownership
- Program/project planning support
- Budget estimate
- Business Value Assessments
- Business fit analysis
- Pega fit analysis
An important goal of the COE is to establish that the right Pega projects are undertaken by the organization, in prioritized order. To that effect, the COE should be engaged during the portfolio planning process to ensure:
- The effort estimate for the candidate project is accurate (based on the high-level specifications available at this stage)
- The business value (or “R” in Pega speak) is well understood
- The candidate project is a good business fit, i.e. aligns well with the organizational strategy
- The project is a good technical fit for the Pega Platform
As the owner of the implementation methodology, the COE should be consulted right from the early planning phases of any Pega project. The COE has the resources and best practices for the project team for consistency and efficiency in Pega project delivery. The involvement of the COE also ensures that time for governance activities is built into the project plan.
Value Addition Services
As the heartbeat of the Pega community of practice, the COE team should strive to be the organization’s go-to place for everything process related and Pega related. To that end, we recommend that the COE offer the following high-value services to project teams:
- Participate in, or facilitate Vision Definition and Project –
- Initiation or Pre-Inception and Inception phases
- Assist with project planning
- Provide best practice documents and advice
- Facilitate DCO sessions
- Enable project team members (including business resources)
- Drive and oversee the delivery process that partners use
More than defining the standards and best practices related to Pega solution development, they need to be enforced as well. That’s where the governance aspect of a COE comes into play. The COE should assign one or more resources to a particular project as “COE ambassadors” whose mission is to govern and support the project over its duration. (Assigning one or two resources that stay engaged with the project guarantees close familiarity with the project dynamics.) The governance is not delivered continuously but rather in short “bursts” of what we call expert services, such as:
- Ensure the right resources with the right skills are on the project
- Ensure the delivery methodology is being followed
- Validate DCO session inputs, activities, and outputs
- Ensure best practices and standards are strictly adhered
- Perform technical reviews including design, performance, configuration, usability, etc.
- Ensure reusable assets are leveraged if and when appropriate
Continuous Process Improvement
As and when the organization transforms and the Pega Platform and applications evolve, the COE continually enhances the Pega delivery process. Having guided the project during its entire lifecycle, the COE is well positioned to facilitate a project retrospective upon completion of each project. This workshop is an opportunity for project team members to identify and document the major learnings and takeaways over the course of the delivery. How well was the project managed and delivered? Which aspects of the process added value, which ones missed the mark? Where was the process lacking? Which tools were useful, which ones were not, and what could enhance the project further?
The COE gathers the takeaways from the projects. Besides documenting and advancing the delivery process the project retrospectives may serve to identify training gaps or organizational barriers.