Matrix Management

The Centre of Excellence Model

Overcoming the problems and pitfalls

Many of our clients use the term “CoE’s” meaning either “Centres of Excellence” or “Centres of Expertise”. This is a way of organising where people with similar expertise, clustered in an organization, cut across traditional (usually national or regional) boundaries.

Where it is being done

For example, Human resources are now often grouped around expertise areas such as “Talent Management”, “Learning and Development”, “Change Management”, “Compensation and Benefits” or “Organizational Development”. In this model the “Business Partners” are given the responsibility of interfacing between these CoEs and the (internal) client. This model in HR is well known and widely adopted because it can be easily replicated in widely differing organizations.

But this “CoE” model is also being rolled out in other parts of the business too. We know many examples where companies have created, for example, CoE’s for purchasing, IT, design, or for research and development as well as many others. The principle is always the same – a group of people with specialist expertise working together, and often globally – for the internal customer.

These CoE’s may be remote, where they are all co-located (IT expertise is often placed in India for example) but equally they are remote from the people they are serving. Or they may be virtual where the CoE people are spread around the globe. They may even be both remote and virtual.

Why companies are doing it

This approach is highly attractive because it is both more efficient and it should also serve (internal) clients better. Not only that, it also avoids or reduces duplication, so that rather than having several people doing the same thing in different places around the globe, it brings it all together in one place. Finally it recognises the importance of “functional” expertise – not everyone should be a generalist.

The challenges it creates

Whilst this looks great on paper, don’t be fooled – making it work is a real challenge as people (both those in the CoE and the people they are serving) experience the challenges of:

• Collaborating well across geographies
• Getting different cultures to work well together
• Working across time-zones
• Collaborating through technology rather than face-to-face
• CoE’s that seem to be disconnected from the “real world” of their customers with “Not invented here” and “ivory tower” syndromes
• Getting things done without authority
• Getting engagement and buy in
• Creating products and services that “local” people actually want
• CoE’s being involved when they should be and CoE’s being valued and appreciated
• Resolving the conflicting priorities that arise
• Learning how to “sell” internally

If you see or experience any of these then don’t worry, help is at hand. Global Integration has more than 20 years of experience of making this work. If you’d like to find out more then give us a call.

We run our training programmes in many of the worlds biggest and best companies and give people the skills to quickly manage and succeed in this new world.

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