Posted by: ahmedashfaque | June 27, 2014

Center of excellence: what it means?


We hear of many IT companies setting up a center of excellence facility. So what exactly is a “center of excellence”?

A job or a project or just any task may involve doing many smaller job parts which when completed will complete the bigger task or job or the project. In another words, when we have to work on a project or a task, we make a plan by breaking the project or the task into smaller tasks. Then we start working on these smaller tasks and complete them one by one. After completing all of them, we complete the project or the bigger task itself.

Now the tasks on a project may be of different nature. They may require different skill sets to work on them. For instance, a software development project consists of tasks like requirement gathering, software designing, software construction, software testing etc. You can see each of these tasks are very different and require different skill sets. A software designer is good at designing the software but he/she may not be good at writing the source code. Similarly a business analyst may be good at gathering requirements but he/she may not be good at software designing. Suppose the entire project is for 1 year and the requirement gathering task takes 2 months. So the person who is the business analyst on the project is employed on the project for only 2 months. If the person is a contractor then he/she will move to another project after finishing his/her job at the first project. If the person is employed at a large company where many projects are being executed then he/she may move to another project of the same company. What about a person who is employed at a smaller company where not projects are getting executed? If he/she will have to sit on bench for prolonged periods of time, till the next project comes along?

here comes “center of excellence”.

Center of excellence fulfills 2 needs for any company. First, as the name implies, this facility provides services of experts who are extremely good at doing one kind of task. They may not be good at other tasks but their expertise on their field of expertise is tremendously good. Due to the fact that they focus on only one area and are required to work on other kind of work which does not come in their area of expertise, they keep refining their own expertise and thus provide better services compared to a situation where they need to work on various kinds of jobs and thus have just average expertise in nay field.

The other need which a center of excellence fulfills is that people are employed at all times as stream of new work keeps coming for them. They finish one task and then move to the next task. This is in contrast to the situation on projects where when their work gets completed, they have to wait for a new project to come in. So the continuity of tasks is assured for each employee in the organization.

The IT department of the organization keeps getting internal or external projects. At the central level of the IT department, a nodal agency breaks these projects into tasks. For example as mentioned above, software projects consist of tasks like requirement gathering, software design, software construction, testing etc. The nodal agency breaks these software projects into requirement gathering task, software design task, software construction task and software testing task. Then it sends these tasks to concerned Center of excellence. So a center of excellence for requirement gathering gets the requirement gathering tasks of all projects. Similarly the center of excellence for software design gets the software design tasks of all projects. This way of doing work makes things smoother for organizations which execute IT or software projects.

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