BACOE Blogisode #3: BACOP or BACOP? Community or Center OR… My Community won’t Practice what it preaches!

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Felicitations, Bloggers! BobtheBA ( is here ready to talk Center of Practice and your opportunity for success. Planet

In our last blogisode, we got some insight into what a Community of Practice is trying to or hoping to accomplish. It is a fantastic start towards a COE and can really help to foster better relationships and maturity in your company. But while the Community of Practice is focused on best practices and good will, the Center of Practice is focused on standards and governance. Now before I go further, let me say that in the end it really does not matter what you call your area or how you choose to categorize it. The goal is maturity and the naming convention is strictly for the concepts we are discussing. “But Bob, doesn’t that fly in the face of having industry standards?” Kind of… and the reason for that is I am 100% dedicated to the idea that this is a cultural evaluation towards maturity. You pick and choose what you want and/or can bite off and how you want it to look. The experts may say Pluto does not meet the “standard” definition of a planet anymore but in my heart Pluto is still a planet, and I know what it is trying to accomplish out there all alone, on the perimeter of our galaxy. You go Pluto!

So if a Community is about best practices and a Center is about standards, what is the difference? Best practices are processes and artifacts that are widely used in the industry and known to increase the likelihood of success on projects when utilized appropriately. They are not enforced. Not all best practices are appropriate to use by a given company given their particular industry, complexity of projects and more. Standards on the other hand are processes and artifacts that are enforced and must be used. They have some form of governance either strict or can be albeit, light in nature.

A Center of Practice is a structure that brings together decision makers of Business Analysis from all over the organization or one governing body (team or person) to define the exact standards to be used by any practitioner of Business Analysis. Templates, processes, diagramming conventions, rules – anything Business Analysis related could be in play (more on this in future blogisodes). Now, I have seen Centers of Practice run by any number of titles including BA Managers, Sr. Directors, Sr. Business Analysts, and Managers of Practice. It depends on the goals for maturity and the overall level of effort and complexity. This could be a temporary assignment, a half-time position or a full time role with a supporting team. The Center of Practice owns the standard and enforces it either through their own structure and team or through an existing structure like a Project Control Office, Project Management Office (depending on how the company is structured). The Center of Practice will have many departments to collaborate with.

So the Community does not have to practice what it preaches until they become a Center. How many licks does it take to get from the Community to the Tootsie Roll Center of Excellence? One… two…. well, more than three I assure you! Again, our time is short but hopefully you are starting to see how your COE could be shaping up!

Next Blogisode: The BA Competency Center: Do you need one? OR… Competent is as Competent does.

Interested in learning more about building a Center of Excellence? Register for our free webinar on Tuesday, June 22nd at 1:00 p.m. CST.  Register

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