Align the COE organizing model with the context and objectives of the business
Supply chains with successful organizational structures create a foundation for their COEs by understanding the current context and future direction of the supply chain in which the COE will operate.
Initially, supply chains tend to have decentralized or center-led COEs, because separate supply chain functions and operating units have yet to see the need or value of driving toward standardization and integration. As the maturity journey progresses, supply chain leaders often start to use each of the models more strategically across multiple functions or processes, depending on required outcomes. For transformation they use a centralized model, for engaging business units in collaborative design and deployment they use a center-led model, and for knowledge sharing they use a decentralized model. The right organizing model for the supply chain will be guided by reflection on the current context of the business.
Frame the scope and scale of the COE
COEs are often charged with driving change across multiple areas of the business, but have limited resources to do so. Determining the scope and scale of the COE can help balance what is feasible and what will provide the greatest value to the supply chain. The scope determines the core focus of the COE's activities, while the scale determines the reach of those activities within the organization.
“ To be truly effective, the COE organization needs a network of partners that can assist in deploying initiatives.”
“COEs are focusing the scope of their work in three ways,” says Chadwick. “Functionally focused COEs are directed to develop common practices for specific supply chain functions, such as planning, sourcing or manufacturing. Process-focused COEs may involve more than one discipline, because the processes they are standardizing likely intersect multiple departments and teams. Capability-based COEs have the broadest scope, and are engaged in more end-to-end business process or transformation initiatives.”
Although they require greater coordination and investment, multiple COEs can accelerate the rate of change within the supply chain by providing deep focus on the improvement of a specific function or capability. However, Gartner advises supply chain leaders to begin by implementing an initial COE, and get the formula right before coordinating multiple COEs.
Build a network of partners into the COE organization and governance structure
“To be truly effective, the COE organization needs a network of partners that can assist in deploying initiatives,” says Chadwick. “Developing this supportive network requires a focus on how to layer and link together the COE organization to the core business. This includes considering career paths of those coming into and out of the COE, developing connected teams, and linking the structure to core stakeholders and partners.”
Although the number of staff in a COE can vary considerably, most are relatively small (five to 20 core team members). Outside of this core group, other supply chain staff can be involved through project teams, as subject matter experts, or as super users who can help with the training, execution and adoption of new practices. COE engagement with other parts of the business provides a level of information the team will typically not have on its own. It also connects the core supply chain staff to the initiative, leverages resources and improves the credibility of the initiatives.