Your business is improving. Your business processes have been perfected. You have the right people and your tools are in their rightful places. There exists a culture of continuous improvements that has given rise to a series of best practices at all levels. Your customers are happy with the results. There is no better time to set up a Centre of Excellence, than now!
However, setting up a CoE is easier said than done. That can be said for all industries. For an engineering service company, it is an expertise that comes with years of experience and engineering domain knowledge. Along with services and solutions, they deliver strategic benefits to OEMs to meet their long term objectives through these dedicated Centers of Excellence.
It is important for a CoE engineering team to function like an extended team to the customers to deliver excellence. It is only when they take full ownership of work for which the dedicated engineering CoE has been setup, can they put in effort and resources for continuous improvement. And this continuous improvement leads to innovations and delivery of new products and solutions that are customer-centric. By following these best practices for establishing a CoE, it becomes easier to meet the needs of today’s OEMs that demand excellence in terms of quality, time and cost.
Here are some steps that you can follow to set and scale up a CoE:
Identify outsourcing functions
Work with your customer as a team to identify the business functions to be outsourced. These functions are primarily non-core engineering activities and have repeatable and scalable tasks. The functions should either have existing training materials or should have the possibility of creating some. Identify priority areas. Create a joint engagement plan and a roadmap for clarity and efficiency of the engineering team.
Identify a dedicated team of domain experts with required skill sets. Start with the CoE manager. The immediate roles and responsibilities of a CoE manager are to understand, record, develop, and assign job descriptions. Build up the right team and gradually expand based on the necessity.
Develop training and impart training
Ensure the CoE manager documents all training received from the customer and prepares relevant and adequate onboarding materials to induct new members in the team. Prepare individual training programs to suit every engineer’s needs and schedules to perform tasks for a function. Track and share training metrics with customers.
Leverage your knowledge base
Leverage your internal knowledge base such as processes, work instructions, training materials, and quality assurance plans (QAPs) developed when working with other clients to improve and strengthen output. Tailor your collected data to meet the needs of your customers. Document every move from the beginning of your engagement.
Execute work as per standards
To avoid confusions related to “whose responsibility is it?” document scope of work and specify standards. Send periodical progress updates to customers. Review scope of work and make necessary changes as and when needed to serve the goal. Put the onus of performance monitoring on both the client and you. At the end, customer satisfaction is important.
Assign specific parameters to different review processes such as review project team status and business unit review on a weekly basis; review program status report on a monthly basis; technical reviews as required; review by the senior management on a monthly or quarterly basis. This will ensure projects are on track and help you keep a tab on customer satisfaction.
How do you build CoE? Share with us your views and reviews here.