Is There a Difference Between a Center of Excellence, Competency Center, or Expertise Center?
Michael Done and I were talking about his SAP Green Book–, thriving after going live with SAP [FN1]. As the conversation progressed it was obvious to both of us that although he has been advocating for SAP Centers of Excellence for quite some time few companies have created one. Our conversation started a lengthy thought process on our careers doing SAP projects, at numerous companies, across several industries and in a number of Fortune companies as well as small and midsized companies.
Over the years a few companies have done well at developing SAP Competency Centers, but only a couple have ever succeeded in developing SAP Centers of Excellence. You might ask, “What is the difference between an SAP Competency Center or an SAP Center of Excellence?”
Do Things Right or Do the Right Things?
In Peter Drucker’s Theory of Business from 1994 he discusses the changing business world and how to stay competitive. He describes the two types of paradigms–, doing things right or doing the right things [FN2]. During the course of an SAP implementation there is a focus on doing things right. At least this should be the focus. You as a customer assume that SAP as a company has done the right things already in the form of the application depth and breadth so your job in implementing the software is to do things right. You can see this embedded in the techniques, templates, methodologies and “tools” used to ensure that the ERP system is properly implemented. Frequently doing things right entails:
- following the SAP ASAP methodology (or some version of it)
- doing some research on successful projects,
- preparing your company with the right committed resources,
- ensuring interdepartmental cooperation,
- selecting the right implementation partner with the right consultants,
- correctly using the pre-project RFI and RFP processes,
For a whole list of numerous success criteria from the academic literature please see the post on The Top 5 ERP Success Factors by Project Stage from 22 Critical Success Factors. This is very different than what is needed after the system is live.
Once your system is up and running and the consultants are rolling off the project, it is time to change direction. At this point you have a couple of options. You can develop an SAP Center of Excellence or an SAP Competency Center. While there is not a lot of information or literature on these two approaches we will try to carve out the differences seen over the years, and then attempt to develop a basic starting model for the Center of Excellence.
See the list of posts in this series listed below the footnotes.
[FN1] If you have not yet seen or heard of his book please consider purchasing it here: http://www.michaeldoane.com/The_SAP_Green_Book.html .
You can also see a copy of his white paper on this topic, and on his book here: http://www.michaeldoane.com/uploads/Thrive_After_Go_Live_DA.pdf
[FN2] Drucker, P. “The Theory of Business,” Harvard Business Review, September / October 1994, pp. 95-104.
Toward an SAP Center of Excellence or SAP Competency Center – PART 1 Explaining the differences between an SAP Competency Center or sometimes referred to as an SAP Center of Expertise and an SAP Center of Excellence. As Peter Drucker wrote either Do Things Right or Do the Right Things.
Toward an SAP Center of Excellence or SAP Competency Center – PART 2 A more complete and thorough explanation of the differences between the SAP Competency Center (or Expertise Center) and the SAP Center of Excellence (or the Business Transformation Center). An understanding the operating differences and how the Competency Center is focused on reactive processing of things like help desk tickets, problem resolution, data correction, and knowledge transfer.
Toward an SAP Center of Excellence or SAP Competency Center – PART 3 Business model application of steps, techniques, and methods to produce an SAP Center of Expertise or an SAP Business Transformation Center. The major business transformation steps on moving from an SAP Competency Center to an SAP Center of Excellence.