Best practices for digital center of excellence

3 Best Practices for Building a Digital Center of Excellence

For organizations adopting a new digital site platform, establishing organizational support early on is imperative, especially if you want to increase your chances of success. This means building a center of excellence. But let’s start with the basics: what exactly is a center of excellence?

A center of excellence (CoE) is an internal group made up of stakeholders from various teams that monitors digital site governance throughout the organization and beyond. Sometimes called the shared IT unit or shared digital platform group, the center of excellence creates site policies and processes and ensures that they are being followed on every digital implementation.

Now, how do you create your own center of excellence? Here are three best practices to keep in mind when building your CoE: building the team, undergoing a creative maturity assessment, and creating a site governance model.

Building the team

The first step is to identify who should be on the digital site governance team; this will be the core of your CoE. Two critical characteristics to look for when you’re filling roles are flexibility and initiative. You want people who can take on new digital initiatives with speed and agility.

Each of the roles within the CoE can be assigned to one person or shared with several, depending on the organization’s size and digital ambitions.

The roles and descriptions below are meant to be guidelines, not restrictive commands:

  • Digital Business: This role includes the product owners that determine the business strategy and the vision for the platform. They review, approve and prioritize feature requests, as well as communicate business requirements to the site architects, developers, and operators.
  • Architecture: Architecture is responsible for any change management and feature development on the platform code. They put architecture governance in place so that new feature requests can be evaluated to ensure it can work within the architecture of the platform.
  • Digital Operations: Digital operations maintains the digital sites and ensures that the platform works as expected. They manage new support requests, security requests, bug fixes, and feature requests. They also complete sprint management and platform development.
  • Site Operations: The site operations unit is focused specifically on enhancing content and experience at the site level. They build and theme individual customer websites and manage customer requests. This is the group that takes care of the feasibility studies, looking at site-specific, feature request requirements and ensures that they can work with the sites.
  • Digital Security: Digital security is responsible for reviewing adherence and compliance to different security guidelines. This team is responsible for working with digital business and architecture to ensure the platform and all sites are secure and compliant with both organization-specific standards and industry-specific standards.

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Undergoing a creative maturity assessment

The second step is to undergo a creative maturity assessment. A creative maturity assessment is when organizations evaluate their current state of digital site creation, delivery, and management.

The assessment includes users, processes, technologies, and various data or information involved in your digital site delivery strategy. The assessment also encompasses how you measure planning activity, development, delivery, management and governance overall.

Evaluating your current state of digital delivery and management is a great way to understand all of the gaps and roadblocks. It’s worth taking the necessary amount of time to ensure a thorough evaluation, as the results will help you envision and plan for your future state.

Once your assessment is complete, you should develop a plan around how to close the gaps.

Creating a site governance model

The next best practice is establishing a site governance model as part of your CoE. A site governance model is a standardized model and approach to defining a set of specific policies or principles that your digital sites (and even teams) should follow. For instance, if you look across your corporate, brand, and commerce sites, what are your policies from a security perspective? How are you going to capture site data across your sites in a secure and reliable way?

A site governance model should also include a specific governance team that can help drive established requirements. Your center of excellence will need to think about what capabilities should be standardized and made available to all sites. In order to ensure consistency and compliance, you will have to find the right balance of providing sufficient creative freedom and flexibility (to users like marketers and content editors) and retaining certain level of control and oversight over all your sites.

SABMiller is a great example of a company that has established a site governance model and its own Digital Development Standards; these encompass legal and compliance standards as well as user experience, development, quality assurance, analytics and more.

Making your digital site governance standards easily available to your team is a step in the right direction toward adoption of your center of excellence team, site governance model, and digital site governance overall.

Jenni Lee

Jenni Lee

Former Product Marketing Manager Acquia