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Technology is important to enterprise success. But the larger a company becomes and the more technology projects it initiates, the more complexity and fragmentation arise in both business processes and the tech landscape. 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.

Businesses 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. Believe it or not, these seemingly irreconcilable goals can coexist.

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It’s done through a Center for Enablement.

The principles behind a C4E

A Center for Enablement (C4E) is a group that drives the IT operating model shift. It’s in charge of enabling business divisions – including (but not exclusively to) IT – to build and drive the consumption of assets successfully, 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 (LoB) departments, and digital innovation teams who are 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. Overall, the primary goals of the C4E are to run the API platform and enable teams on how to best use it while developing reusable APIs to accelerate innovation and deliver change more efficiently.

The naming convention for C4E might recall a familiar concept: the Center of Excellence (CoE). However, a C4E is a radically different idea. Traditional CoEs, responsible for running an API platform, developing APIs, and managing their operation, feature centralized expertise and knowledge, resulting in information being unintentionally protected and rationed. CoEs often present several challenges, such as becoming bottlenecks that developers and architects work around, increased inefficiency, and preventing consumers from experimenting. The below graphic provides a further overview of additional differences between a C4E and a CoE.

what is a center for enablement

How to set up a C4E

There are six steps required to set up a C4E:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 won’t mean much if the organization doesn’t know about or use them.
  5. 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 various ways from onboarding and enabling project teams to encouraging dialogue among teams and incentivizing reuse through KPIs.
  6. Measure C4E KPIs: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) help to measure the effectiveness of a C4E. C4E’s success is directly measured against the consumption and reuse of the assets and how it accelerates the delivery of business outcomes.

Benefits of a C4E

Some 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 due to being built on existing templates and APIs, 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% more than other approaches.

Digital transformation with a C4E

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.