Centers of Excellence (COE) enable organizations to quickly adopt new tools and best practices, create faster learning pathways for new and intermediate users, disperse information more effectively, and create governance models that best support the entire enterprise.
In our last blog, we talked about the possibilities and opportunities created by adopting Power Platform. From self-service analytics to business applications created by citizen developers, the Power Platform represents a huge shift of responsibility and opportunity within organizations. This shift provides an almost limitless opportunity for value creation but also requires new skill sets, new networks to disperse information and best practices, and new governance models.
COEs are often formed at differing times to solve varying problems at unique points in an organization’s technical maturity. We’ve outlined a few common starting points that we have seen with our clients, including recommendations on how to move forward with a Power Platform Center of Excellence in your organization.
What is a Power Platform Center of Excellence?
Centers of Excellence can take many forms. At its core, a Center of Excellence (COE) is a community devoted to overseeing, documenting, and sharing best practices, challenges, and solutions. Depending on the organization, COEs can be responsible for governance or be separate from governance. Either model can work, but it’s important that the relationship is clear.
As we democratize who can create enterprise solutions, the potential for wide-scale proliferation of solutions—good and bad—necessitates building new skillsets, governance models, and networks to share information within. By establishing a Power Platform COE, you’ll have the best possible framework in place for supporting your business transformation goals.
How to Get Started with a Power Platform COE
As you’re getting started with a Power Platform COE, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do this all by yourself.
Yes, Microsoft has a Center of Excellence starter kit. But also, here at CSG Pro, we have extensive experience in building communities as we run the Portland Power BI User Group (with over 700+ members) and the Portland Power Platform User Groups.
Another important thing to remember is that a COE takes resources—time and/or money. Keep the return on that time and money in mind as you make the case in your org. It helps to know all of the players who will be involved with your Power Platform COE, so you understand how best to collaborate as you’re building the foundation.
The Early Adopter
You love the Power Platform and see the potential to transform your organization. Adoption isn’t widespread yet. But you have a couple of teammates also using components of it and you know there are a few other people within the organization using this or that tool.
This is maybe the most challenging pathway—you’ve got to build the business case for the COE from the ground up. Connect with like-minded colleagues and find a meeting cadence that ensures each meeting contains valuable exchanges of information. This is about growing a community over time.
The Early Adopter can be almost anyone in the organization. You don’t need to hold the organization-level vision, you just need to be enthusiastic about the potential in your organization and want to talk to other like-minded colleagues.
Your organization has seen grassroots adoption of the Power Platform.
- Sales is starting to play with Power Automate.
- Customer Success is having some fun with Power Virtual Agents.
- Ops is using Power Apps for a couple use cases.
- And everyone loves Power BI.
But you’ve done your reading and you know there are a lot of benefits to sharing best practices. You also know that it can be really risky not to, and you want to get out ahead of any governance issues.
If you’re the responsible manager in this role, it’s helpful to identify the goals of the COE upfront. Your COE might be governance-focused, focused on building organizational capabilities, or both. It also might be a hub to pool resources for training across numerous business units.
There are lots of ways to structure your Power Platform COE. When everyone understands the purpose, they will understand how to leverage it for the most possible value.
You’re building a community of practice. Encouraging contributions from all participants will foster a sense of shared ownership. Even with that sense of shared ownership, having a community manager who is attuned to the community and the organizational goals of that community will be crucial.
The Fire Fighter
Your organization loves Power Platform. Maybe too much. You’ve got anyone and everyone creating automations, reports, new Power Apps showing up in the oddest locations with no rollout. Any new system update shuts down half of the “solutions” now out in the wild.
The good news is that you have an enthusiastic group of citizen developers eager to solve your business problems with the tools available to them. The other good news is that the business case is already made for the COE. The bad news is that you’ve got some untangling to do.
The Fire Fighter needs to be an executive or have executive support. With widespread adoption across numerous levels of the organization, this person needs to either hold the vision or be deputized to make the vision come to fruition.
The mess has already been created, so find the root problems that will get you the most bang for your buck. Creating the mess is always faster than cleaning it up, but there’s momentum and enthusiasm worth building on.
If you’re assessing whether your organization needs a Power Platform COE, we’re always available for a quick 30-minute consult to provide guidance. Just reach out.