Set Up A New Centre Of Excellence In 2021


What is a Centre of Excellence? How do you set up one? How do I finalize the budgets, the team and other requirements? These are questions my friends often ponder upon. Today we 'll go through steps to set up a New Centre Of Excellence

A Centre Of Excellence is essentially A Specialized Skilled team of Subject Matter Experts combined with a Cross Functional Team. Remember Centre Of Excellence is set up to exploit a specialized skill in order to deliver optimized output. The output could be anything from enhanced Quality, Speed or superior Customer Experience.

Set Up A New Centre Of Excellence in 2021

Where do I begin setting up a Center Of Excellence?

#1 The Business Case

Experts suggest you begin with a Business Case. Writing a Business Case will give you clarity on why you need to set up a Center Of Excellence, the Mission, the Scope, High Level Timelines and Assumptions. If you don’t have a specialized skill identified already than you need to identify one that can be leveraged to deliver a seamless customer experience for example the skill of a actuary in an insurance company, a GIS expert in a location company etc.

Writing a Business Case may also involve getting clarity on Budgets you are allowed to work with and this exercise will give you clarity on the cross functional team you need to build in order to set up a Center Of Excellence!

Set Up A New Centre Of Excellence in 2021 team
Set Up A New Centre Of Excellence in 2021 cross functional team

"A truly cross functional team involve a variety of roles from the coding team to Project Coordinators - a team that not only enables everyday operations but also future state ramp ups and new business to be absorbed by the incumbent team."


Setting up a team of almost 100 people also involves ramping up your HR interventions, IT team interventions, Quality and other support teams. It is advisable to get inputs from these teams if they need to hire additional capacity in order to deliver to the expectations of new Centre Of Excellence

#2 The Cost Benefit Analysis

Now that you have written a Business Case, it’s time to get a Cost Benefit Analysis done! In Case you need a template drop me a note! You may also find our blog on Costs Benefit Analysis useful at this stage!

#3 Planning Training

Note that you need to certify a number of Subject Matter Experts while setting up a Center Of Excellence! Deciding on Subject Matter Expert Certification Criteria will get you a head start into this activity. The head to ratio of Subject Matter Experts vs Associates is usually dependent upon Operations Manager verdict. For reference I used 15 subject matter experts to begin with as this will give you a head start for a team of 75!

Note: A few trainings identified may be external and those cost assumptions need to be built into your analysis.

#4 Planning IT

Did you think you don’t have to plan IT infrastructure because you are just converting your existing function to a Centre of Excellence? Think Again !! All the teams within the new Centre of Excellence have to communicate with each other and share best practices! You need to have a shared environment where all of this information can be posted like a SharePoint website or other communication Apps!!

#5 Planning Communications

Communication Management in a big team can be challenging and needs to be a planned appropriately. Communication Channels like F2F interactions, online conferences, leadership interactions need to be planned in advance!

#6 Planning Facilities

It makes perfect sense to have your Center of Excellence team colocated so as to be able to share best practices and drive team environment. For this reason, it is recommended to work with facilities teams to identify colocated space to house your current and future teams.

#7 Planning to Manage Steady State Operations

Managing everyday operations in a Centre Of Excellence is not everybody’s cup of tea! COE’s need to maintain a particular head to ratio of Subject Matter Experts to Associates so as to deliver a superior customer experience! That means managing attrition to make sure a regular supply of Subject Matter Experts and other members of the team. All of this needs to be aligned as per the mission statement of the Business Case!


Needless to mention you need Project Management expertise to manage the critical path for setting up a Centre of Excellence. IT Infra set up, Facilities, Hiring, Training will mostly fall on critical path for this project and it is best to onboard a centralized team to manage this for you.