Building your Business Process Center of Excellence (COE)

Important points to consider when you start your business process excellence journey

Peter Blank
Senior Manager, Lead Data Insights and Intelligent Automation
PwC Switzerland

When you want your business to stay competitive in today’s globally connected and fast-paced environment, utilizing the business insights from your data is key. By creating a data driven COE, you establish a central force for business process excellence. Let us show you how we advise our clients on their journey to a business process COE.

Let us take you through the key aspects of establishing a business process COE. Below, we will highlight crucial learnings from our past projects when setting up business process COEs.

Building the right foundation: From Data Strategy to Process Excellence

On multiple occasions, we encountered clients that had established a COE, hired personnel, and thought through a full technology setup, just to find themselves short of any strategic leadership access or support – and eventually being cut off funding. 

In our work, we observed two issues surfacing in many COE ramp-ups:

  • COE leaders are building a full organizational structure without considering the actual business units, their problems and needs. This leads to designing solution structures without having business support. 
  • COEs tend to embed themselves within the IT organization. While a close connection with IT is desirable, we advise our clients to not only get involved with business units but to source personnel from the business itself during projects. As such, embedding the COE into the IT organization may add additional hurdles.

To gain crucial support we encourage the potential future COE leaders to start thinking about key aspects of the problems they want to solve and to take a good look at your companies' data strategy. As a starting point for the latter, you may want to gain an understanding of which data archetype your organization is currently on. From there, you can build some of the key considerations into your COE approach.

Once decided on how to embed your COE into the data strategy, you will be inadvertently confronted with the question of where it should be located and how the COE is organized. We have experienced four different setups, depending on your state of maturity – often going hand in hand with your data strategy archetypes.

  • (1) Decentralized / Uncoordinated
  • (2a) Central Coordination
  • (2b) Centralized
  • (3) Integrated

Frequently, you will only start realizing value for the organization on a larger scale when moving from the 2a or 2b models towards stage 3.

The first step in many clients’ COE build-up journeys is the development of data quality, architecture, and technology roadmaps. While this is a key step, it should follow the discussions on data strategy and not precede it.

For the COE to derive strong recommendations and solutions, it is necessary to not only review the process itself but the surrounding environment and strategic landscape it is embedded in. Once facing technological choices, we recommend decision makers to create an application independent business process data layer. 

How to start your own Process Excellence journey

To get started on your journey, PwC can support you in building up your COE. Our experts will support you, covering all key topics during your business process COE creation:

  • Alignment to or creation of a data strategy
  • Creation of an organization model
  • Technology and architecture roadmaps
  • Target operating models, including roles & responsibilities
  • KPI Framework
  • An MVP implementation of process mining for documenting, monitoring and steering your processes
  • Operationalization roadmap, training and knowledge transfer

Key take-aways 

If you are creating or running a Business Process COE, you will need to address a multitude of diverse topics to be successful. We frequently encounter that the COE buildup is driven from a “technology first” perspective, omitting the need for a strategic alignment and organizational embedding. In this short article, we highlight three main topics to focus on in your business process COE journey and how we can support you.


Contact our Process Intelligence experts

If you want to know more about our Process Excellence please do not hesitate to get in touch with us:

Contact us

Matthias Leybold

Matthias Leybold

Partner, Cloud & Digital, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 13 96

Peter Blank

Peter Blank

Director, Analytics and Automation, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 79 179 47 20