Four steps to define and develop services for a Business Process Center of Excellence

Defining core ‘Services’ can go a long way in communicating the value of Business Process Center of Excellence, says Rohan Bhattacharjee. Here's why.

In this highly volatile economic climate, businesses today want to be surer about their investments and in turn the return on those investments. It is becoming increasingly difficult to market BPM / Process Excellence projects with the Executive Leadership asking for ‘tangible value’ out of those initiatives.

As has been demonstrated by some of the leading organizations, establishing a Business Process Center of Excellence can go a long way in supporting this cause. Every Center of Excellence needs to define the ‘Services’ that it intends to offer to its stakeholders and customers (both internal and external) in order to communicate the ‘value’ they intend to bring to the organization. The ‘Services’ if well-defined and communicated also serve as a Business Case for establishing the CoE in the first place.

Here are the key steps that are useful while defining and developing services for a Business Process CoE:

Step 1: Identifying the Stakeholder

It is very important to identify the primary stakeholders for the Business Process Center of Excellence. They could be internal stakeholders as well as external stakeholders / customers. The identification of stakeholders is a key step as they can provide critical feedback and inputs while trying to come up with the Business Process CoE ‘Services’. These stakeholders also help in gaining management buy-in and executive sponsorship for initial set-up and management of the Business Process CoE (click to enlarge image).

Step 2: Defining Needs / Expectations of the Stakeholders

All stakeholders, whether primary or secondary, have specific needs and expectations from the Business Process Center of Excellence based on their own experiences, understanding, and perceptions of what ‘value’ the Center of Excellence can bring to the table. In certain circumstances it may lead to contradicting expectations that different stakeholders may have from the Business Process CoE, which can in turn lead to unclear and overlapping roles and responsibilities. Thus, managing stakeholder expectations and keeping them realistic is one of the initial challenges that a CoE faces during set-up and while defining its core services.


Step 3: Define the Core ‘Services’

Defining the Scope of the Core ‘Services’ to be provided by the Business Process CoE is an essential first step as it will provide a clear cut boundary within which the CoE is expected to operate and perform its tasks. The ideal way of going about defining the CoE services is by having interview sessions and closed group discussion sessions with the respective stakeholders / customers of the CoE (click to enlarge image).

The Business Process CoE services should be so defined that they clearly articulate & communicate the Process Excellence Value Story to be taken up by the different stakeholders. They should be aligned to the organization’s strategic goals and priorities, stakeholder needs and expectations, historical challenges (process complexity, efficiency, integrating acquisitions, etc.) faced by the organization, and existing process capabilities at the organization. Below figure is a snapshot of potential Business Process CoE services (click to enlarge):

It is essential not only to define the core ‘services’ of the Business Process CoE, but to also define them in a manner that they are mutually exclusive, in order to be able to measure the performance of each service individually within the Business Process CoE.

The ‘Service’ description should be detailed enough to clearly call-out the specific activities that will form a part of the service. Each and every core ‘Service’ should have certain essential elements defined for them before they can get operational.

The below table lists out the essential elements that should be defined for each ‘service’ that will be offered by the Business Process CoE (click to enlarge):

Step 4: Measure Performance of the Core ‘Services’

Measuring the performance of the core ‘Services’ against set targets, and recording the improvements made can go a long way in identifying and communicating the ‘value’ of the individual ‘services’ as well as the Business Process CoE as a whole.

It is therefore imperative that we define the core ‘Services’ of a Business Process CoE clearly and also set targets for these core ‘Services’ so that we are able to measure their performance against those targets, which in turn can help us to communicate the value of the Business Process CoE and its ‘Services’ to the Organization.