Organizations that want to realize the value of their data and information as enterprise assets should consider forming and sustaining an Enterprise Data / Information Management Program Office or Center of Excellence.
Many organizations decide that implementing some form of enterprise information management (EIM) or enterprise data management (EDM) is a fantastic idea. They assess their current state of EIM maturity across all the relevant components, and they develop plans for moving from current state to a desired state. Then, they stare at one another, like deer in headlights, unsure of what to do next, and nothing constructive happens. This lack of progress is one cause of the poor reputation that EIM and other enterprise initiatives have earned, justifiably, over the years. What can be done to repair this reputation and bring EIM into the realm of successfully sustained programs? One solution may be the creation and implementation of an EIM / EDM Center of Expertise or Excellence.
In her 2008 publication From Analyst to Leader: Elevating the Role of the Business Analyst, Kathleen Hass stated: “The concept of CoEs is quickly maturing in twenty‐first century organizations because of the need to collaboratively determine solutions to complex business issues. The project management office (PMO), a type of CoE, proliferated in the 1990s as a centralized approach to managing projects….Centers of excellence are being recognized as a business support function just as critical as accounting, marketing, finance, and human resources.”
Centers of Excellence and Expertise
What is a Center of Expertise? A CoE is an organization that encourages knowledge development, facilitates collaboration, and manages best practice implementation for some specific functional area in an effort to increase business success. A successful Center of Expertise improves the competency in the discipline it supports and provides a foundation for the advancement of the discipline’s concepts into the organization’s culture. In many organizations a center of excellence may refer to a group of people, a department or a shared facility. It may also be known as a competency center or a capability center.
Enterprise Data / Information Management CoE
An EIM Center of Expertise or Excellence (EIMCoE) provides a framework for the development and maintenance of the discipline of enterprise information management; the CoE is essential in increasing the EIM maturity of an organization, which can reduce the risk of failure on projects that involve the management of data and information. Additionally, the organization needs a standard methodology for EIM that includes templates for deliverables, processes, and tools to guide the staff through the complexities of all enterprise data and information management programs and their associated projects.
Centers of Expertise can be virtual organizations matrixed into the rest of the company or they can be formed as actual groups with a discretionary budget, separate management, and clear authority, depending on the organization’s approach to organizational structure and the needs of the enterprise. They can start in one form and transform into the other over time as needed, they can start as centers in divisions aligned through informal associations or they can be centrally controlled; organizational approaches to CoEs are numerous.
To be successful, all those involved in data management must have the right set of skills and competencies. The first step in increasing the competency of data management professionals is training that leverages industry-best practices and is aligned with DAMA International’s Data Management Body of Knowledge (DAMA-DMBoK ©). It is crucial that all senior data management professionals, both staff and any consultants, are certified as CDMP (certified data management professionals) to provide the necessary expertise in data management principles and best practices for the organization. In addition to education, data management professionals need a support organization that provides guidance to them and the organization at large for all aspects of EIM administration. An EIM Center of Expertise (EIMCoE) provides such guidance.
The group can be staffed with dedicated or part-time members according to the needs of the organization, but the members must be leaders in the discipline, recognized for their expertise and able to communicate their knowledge and skills to others in varied ways across all areas of the enterprise. This expertise is the heart and soul of any CoE, and the lack of recognized thought leadership that is balanced by implementation success has doomed many CoEs in every field.
The creation of an EIM Center of Excellence or Expertise is an indication that the organization wants to reach for a higher level of organizational maturity and has developed an understanding of the need for an enterprise approach to data and information management. Successful EDM / EIM initiatives are supported by an EIM CoE, and sustaining an EIM CoE can lead to an organization’s achieving higher levels of enterprise data and information management maturity.