Technology is important to enterprise success. However, the larger a company becomes, and the more technology projects it initiates, the more complexity and fragmentation arises in both business processes and the technology landscape. In order to deal with this difficult environment, companies often introduce rigorous management and control processes, but these can become overly rigid and calcify innovation and agility.
Companies need a way to introduce processes and manage change to make sure that IT projects don’t proliferate in the shadows. At the same time, they must keep the road smooth for innovation throughout the business. It is possible, believe it or not, for these seemingly irreconcilable goals to co-exist.
It’s done through a Center for Enablement, or a C4E.
The principles behind a C4E
A C4E is defined as a group that drives the IT operating model shift. It is in charge of enabling business divisions — including but not exclusively IT — to build and drive the consumption of assets successfully, thereby enabling speed and agility. It allows the business and IT teams to shift from a production-based to a production-and-consumption-based delivery model.
The C4E is a cross-functional team — typically staffed with members from central IT, line-of-business departments, and digital innovation teams — charged with productizing, publishing, and harvesting reusable assets and best practices. They promote consumption and collaboration and help drive self-reliance while improving results through feedback and metrics.
The name might recall a familiar concept: the Center of Excellence (CoE). However, a C4E is a radically different idea. Traditional CoEs feature centralized expertise and knowledge, which results in information being protected and rationed unintentionally. CoEs often become bottlenecks that developers and architects work around. The below graphic provides a further overview of additional differences between a C4E and a CoE.
How to set up a C4E
There are six steps required to set up a C4E:
- Assess the organization’s integration capability: It’s important to understand your organization’s current integration and API capabilities as well as the maturity of the business in terms of strategy, organization, community, governance, architecture, and project delivery.
- Establish the C4E operating model: If you determine that your organization will adopt the C4E model, you must decide on roles and responsibilities within the C4E, define KPIs for measuring developer engagement, productivity, and consumption, and more.
- Building and publishing foundational assets: Then, the organization will need to build an engagement layer for developers and architects alike. This involves building and publishing an initial set of reusable assets, such as API fragments, API specs, templates, etc.
- Evangelizing the C4E: In this step, the core C4E team will need to promote and evangelize C4E across the organization. After all, the principles of reuse and self-service that a C4E promotes will not mean much if the organization doesn’t know about or use them.
- Driving consumption of assets: Once a C4E becomes common knowledge across the organization, the C4E core team’s next job is to encourage and drive consumption of reusable assets. This can be done in a variety of ways––from onboarding and enabling project teams to encouraging dialogue amongst teams and incentivizing reuse through KPIs.
Benefits of a C4E?
Some of the expected benefits of building a C4E include:
- Shorter delivery cycles, including faster time to market for your integration projects through reuse and self-service.
- Reduced project risk and on-time delivery of integration projects.
- Better adherence to standards and best practices.
- Higher quality deliverables as a result of being built on existing templates and APIs, thereby reducing the number of defects and error rates.
The bottom line is that with these outcomes, our customers deliver projects 3x faster and increase team productivity by 300% than they do with other approaches.
Digital transformation with a C4E
In order to achieve true digital transformation, people and processes are just as important to the journey as technology. Like any dramatic transformation process, digital transformation has to include a new way of thinking. You can’t expect to transform if you do things the same old way.
And, ultimately, building a C4E is one way companies like Unilever and Coca Cola have achieved greater agility and productivity.
Ready to get started? For more resources on how a C4E could help your organization, check out our whitepaper on how to rethink IT’s function in your company.