Delivering Cloud Transformation Excellence: The Need for Centers of Excellence - Part 1

By:   |   Updated: 2022-07-21   |   Comments   |   Related: 1 | 2 | 3 | > Cloud Strategy


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Problem

In today's digital age, the organizational drive for automation is greater than ever. As executives seek to scale digital platforms to deliver business value, engineering teams are interested in realizing the benefits of automation and digital innovation through 'change the company' initiatives that deliver value with high levels of excellence. Customers are interested in focusing on the outcomes and business value a project delivers. Quite often, these projects are sponsored by business stakeholders rather than IT, with the intention to deliver deep business value and outcomes within short time frames, and with minimal tolerance for failure. As a result of this demand, 'Delivery Excellence' has become a common buzzword that numerous consulting organizations highlight in their service offerings and marketing materials. Delivery Excellence is an aspiration not only for Solution Integration (SI) vendors but also for organizations in various industries that are seeking to build Centers of Excellence (CoE) to promote governance and re-usability of organizational assets.

Solution

When vendors engage with customers on digital innovation and transformation projects, it is the technology, skills, experience, and desired outcomes that drives the project's charter. Delivery Excellence goes a step further by defining the granularities related to contracts, teams, costs, risk, compliance, timelines, feedback, governance, reporting, collaboration, and communication to ensure expected value is delivered to customers. As customers ramp up on transformation and innovation projects, delivery excellence is more important than ever. Even large organizations with some of the most elite team members are not immune to project failure. A study by McKinsey stated that 70% of digital transformation projects fail because of overrun costs, increased risk, added complexity, and limited business value. Other large projects outside of the digital transformation arena also fail for similar reasons. For example, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner had at least seven delays and cost over US$12 billion, which was 120% more than budgeted.

Many digital transformation projects are so time and resource intensive that the original vision may become dissipated over time due to shifts in priority, changes in technology, or unavailability of expert resources. One key to successful delivery is to champion an 'Agile-mindset' by delivering incremental value propositions through a Scrum framework. With shorter timeframes, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) can deliver quicker business value and then transition to the delivery of iterative, value-added feature enhancements which address and onboard specific business use cases. While extremely long roadmaps ranging from three, to five, to ten plus years seems ambitious, they are often counterproductive from realizing value quicker. While these roadmaps are important, shorter delivery cycles will further contribute to delivery excellence and prevent 'buyer's remorse'. Projects frequently achieve 'delivery excellence' when they have high-performing teams, clear scope, engaged stakeholders, well-managed risk, clarity of assumptions and dependencies, learning and upskilling opportunities, and well-governed monitoring and control processes. In this six-part article series, you will learn more about the idealistic fundamentals required for 'Delivery Excellence'.

Centers of Excellence (CoE)

Many industry and consulting organizations adopt frameworks, best practices, and patterns of success that are all collocated within a Center of Excellence (CoE) which becomes the epitome for 'Delivery Excellence'. A CoE consisting of reusable frameworks, paradigms, and collateral ensures repeatability of code and solution deployments such that there is a lowered margin of error which in turn assures quality at higher levels and prevents a significant amount of rework and issue resolution phases. Some organizations have matured and established CoEs, while others are still forming their foundational Intellectual Property (IP). CoE offerings can range from Cloud Readiness Assessment frameworks to Infrastructure Platforms as Code (IaC). To accelerate the path to delivery excellence, these pre-architected and tested architectural frameworks such as data and analytics infrastructure platforms, security models, automated CI/CD pipelines, re-usable ELT frameworks, automated QA testing, and other standard foundational features can be deployed during the initial sprints of a project. Much like any other project, a CoE that is focused on 'Delivery Excellence' would need to have its own vision, charter, frameworks, policies, deliverables, and well-defined success criteria.

As the foundational digital platform takes flight, these frameworks and their respective system performance can be monitored through custom alerts or reporting dashboards. Since this monitoring capability delivers a user-friendly experience along with functional value-added capabilities which is why many CoEs have this operations monitoring and reporting capability in their arsenal. As these various offerings and support systems become part of the CoE, its mission will become more clearly defined. By focusing on real-world problems and use-cases to solve, the CoE will always be well integrated with the teams they are supporting.

The goal of the CoE is to accelerate project and team success through collaboration, communication, and knowledge sharing. It is critical to ensure that the CoE never becomes siloed and detached from its mission by hindering and slowing down innovation and delivery excellence. When putting together a CoE Team, it is preferable to include a diverse team comprised of multiple business and technical disciplines to better manage any internal politics that may arise from the innovative and transformative recommendations of the CoE to sway business decisions towards excellence. Welcoming innovative new ideas, recommendations, and feedback on existing assets is a great way of collaborating with various stakeholders.

A CoE is only as successful as the business value it brings. Having a well-structured, diverse, and collaborative CoE Team will foster innovation and transformation, and will demonstrate the ROI it brings to its various stakeholders. This will ensure that the CoE has the required stakeholder buy-in and budgets to keep delivering excellence. For an IT System Integration (SI) Consultancy, these CoE assets could translate into delivery excellence packaged offerings to clients. If this is one of the value propositions of the CoE, then appropriate training programs could be inculcated to train Architects, Engineers, Delivery Managers, and other on the best practices, patterns, and offerings of the CoE. An IT Services company that can offer a portfolio of constantly evolving innovative solution capability offerings from pre-sales to managed support will sustain its competitive advantage and differentiate them from others in the industry.

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Ron L'Esteve Ron L'Esteve is a seasoned Data Architect who holds an MBA and MSF. Ron has over 15 years of consulting experience with Microsoft Business Intelligence, data engineering, emerging cloud and big data technologies.

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Article Last Updated: 2022-07-21

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