Analytics Center of Excellence

In this article we'll be covering :

  • The Need for an Analytics Center of Excellence
  • Defining Objectives for Creating the Community
  • Creating a Roadmap for Deployment
  • Addressing Challenges to Deployment
  • Establishing a Center of Excellence with PowerBI Integration
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Analytics Center of Excellence: Developing A Data-Driven Culture Through Collaboration

Today, decision-makers, senior-level analytics practitioners, and department heads manage and leverage data to drive organizational growth and success. As is the case, giving a strategic vision to all activities revolving around data is vital. Building an analytics center of excellence (COE) within a company is a strategic solution to making data management effective and aggressive.

According to a study by Forrester Research, 45% of companies with a Chief Data Officer (CDO) have developed or are in the process of giving shape to a Center of Excellence.

Simply put, an analytics center in a company is where queries around data can be addressed, whether looking for direction around efforts into analytics or training company people on data. There is also a need to use data innovatively. The analytics center is the department with a team responsible for these tasks.

Data is critical to an organization’s success, and creating a COE can substantially impact the firm’s overall performance. Defining the objectives, formulating a roadmap, and identifying roadblocks can be the significant initial steps to building an analytics center of excellence.

Organizational Objectives

Building an analytics center of excellence achieves several goals. Here are key reasons to model your business data management into a center:

  • Provides the strategic vision for analytics and data
    While there may be several opinions on how aggressive the company should be with data; a center of excellence can provide a vision that everyone can broadly follow. Essential for traditional firms transitioning into being more data-driven and seeking to change the workforce’s mindset.
  • Sets the benchmark
    A center of excellence sets the standard for how well data will be assimilated, formulated, and secured in the company. It also sets the bar higher on how much colleagues must help each other with information to drive adoption.
  • Creates a blueprint for employees
    An analytics center of excellence can streamline the functioning of employees and vendors by providing a blueprint for them to follow.
  • Financial planning for technology
    There are various projects that a company undertakes in the sphere of data analytics. A center can provide specialists that effectively evaluate all the proposals and make well-informed funding decisions. Investing in technology can be more efficient when a dedicated team of domain experts works with the founder.
  • Organize training sessions
    As a company implements various data analytics initiatives, it needs to organize training sessions for employees to make them competent in emerging technologies. Training can be ad-hoc and incomplete if not planned and organized with adequate vision. An analytics COE can take the responsibility to ensure that skill development is done efficiently in the firm.
  • Fuel growth
    An analytics center of excellence can be the solution to excelling at data in a data-driven world. Data fuels the growth of users and clients in several organizations, and by formulating such a dedicated data hub, a company can achieve remarkable growth. Companies that cater to many consumers or users can easily see the value of putting the center at the core of their strategy.
  • Foster collaboration
    Various company departments can gain substantially by exchanging data. Building a dedicated hub can enable them to come together and fulfill this need.
  • Non-intrusive Support
    Having access to a community and a knowledge base enables Admin, Process, and Governance teams to support a Federated COE.
  • Innovation
    A collaborative COE fosters thought leadership for the Art of the Possible, ​​ and prioritizes innovation and programs designed to unlock value from data.

Creating a Roadmap for an Analytics COE

Once the objectives of having an analytics center of excellence are identified, the next step is creating a roadmap. Every organization is different; evaluating the following points will help in developing a roadmap for the center:

  • Define the COE Charter
    Ensure you know what activities the COE can support. Once the COE Charter is defined, identify the framework and methodology to implement.
  • Identify gaps in the ability to execute
    Identify personas with capability discrepancies, and ideate the solution to meet their goals and scope of responsibilities.
  • Create goals and metrics
    Determine how you’ll measure effectiveness for the COE. Create KPIs (key performance indicators) or OKRs (objectives and key results) to validate that the COE consistently provides value to the user community.
  • Determine the best COE structure
    Identity which COE structure is most appropriate (centralized, unified, federated, or decentralized). Verify that staffing, skills, roles and responsibilities, and appropriate organizational relationships are in place.
  • Plan and innovate for future growth
    If you’re starting with a centralized or decentralized COE, consider how you will scale the COE over time by using the unified or federated approach. Plan for any actions and innovations that you can take now to facilitate future growth.
  • Verify the funding model for the COE
    Decide whether the COE is purely a cost center with an operating budget, whether it will operate partially as a profit center, and whether chargebacks to other business units will be required.
  • Build the platform for collaboration
    Adopt a unified platform for the community of personas involved in the COE’s services – educate users, and collaborate across the COE Charter.

After these aspects are considered, making a practical and robust roadmap for the center becomes simple, but is not without its challenges.

Challenges to Address

While planning the analytics center of excellence, also identify the various bottlenecks.

Some challenges while creating a center of excellence in data analytics are mentioned below:

  • Slow progress
    Like all lasting and impactful initiatives, establishing a system that helps the company thrive in the era of data-driven growth comes with high expectations. However, progress will be slow in the beginning. Companies already having a Chief Data Officer (CDO) will see a quicker start.
  • Acceptance within the organization
    In the initial stage, the company will have to work to empower the center to play a vital role in the company. The center may remain underutilized if people across the organization are not actively encouraged to engage with the center.
  • Iterations in the blueprint
    Much as a blueprint precedes implementation, it will likely keep changing and have to evolve to absorb changes.
  • Revaluation of objectives
    Unexpected opportunities can be tapped when such an impactful center is built. Unexpected opportunities require a reassessment of the objectives. For example, the core objective may be streamlining data management, but it may end up contributing to sales to the extent that the key goal of the center may become contributing to the top line.
  • Collaboration
    Building an atmosphere of collaboration can take effort, as the various departments may initially be reluctant to share their data and information resources. Creating an analytics center of excellence will foster collaboration if the company has so far been unable to lock the value of such organization-wide collaboration.

Once you have a roadmap in place and an understanding of the challenges that need to be addressed, you need an integrated business intelligence solution. A tool that can support your Analytics COE and deliver value to stakeholders and key account managers.

We, at Course5, enable PowerBI integrations, empowering enterprises with tangible outcomes based on their goals for the COE.

PowerBI Center of Excellence with Course5

Through our experiences working with stakeholders across organizations, we have curated four key goals that your COE needs to consider and the business outcomes that can be expected as a result.

The goals are as follows:

Increasing Data Value
Focus on transitioning from distributed initiative offers to an integrated solution that can help with knowledge dissemination, training material, metadata, community building, and communication.

Each stakeholder and decision-maker can better access curated insights and engage new business functions, vendors, geographies, and at scale.

Data Certification
A robust COE helps make better-informed decisions that deliver consistency in actions and efficiency in results.

Support and Governance
You need to implement the right processes, people, and platforms to not just deploy but maintain your PowerBI COE.

Once your COE is aligned with these goals and operating in accordance, you can expect to experience the following business outcomes:

  • Evangelizing a data culture
  • Insights Adoption
  • High-quality and timely deliveries
  • Greater innovation and productivity
  • Business continuity

Course5’s COE Charter: Deploying a Fly Wheel Approach

An autonomous and user-centric approach puts users at ease from start to finish – no matter where they are on their journey with you.

Analytics Center of Excellence - Analytics Journey

A user-centric approach throughout the analytics journey helps to best serve the users and support their requirements

Course5’s COE  Methodology

Enabling a Federated COE with Core Dimensions of People, Process, Technology, Data, and Governance.


Analytics Center of Excellence - Analytics COE Methodology

Over the course of integrating centers of excellence with multiple organizations, we have gleaned some key learnings that you need to be cognizant of.

Course5’s Tips for Effective Analytics COE Integration with PowerBI

  • PowerBI COE goals and implementation plan should be aligned with the organization’s analytics vision and current adoption challenges for each persona.
  • COE success metrics should be clearly defined on priority.
  • Governance processes need to be defined before engaging processes, people, or platforms.
  • A change management process is a must-have, to restructure the framework depending on business requirements.
  • Set up a manual process first before implementing automation, to drive efficiency.
  • Modular-based development help to test ideas early, evaluate learning, and implement change.
  • COE leaders should work closely with business teams to foster better communication.
  • The structure of the COE should be defined for each goal/area/skill.

Why work alone, when we can work together? Why struggle with analytics execution and insights adoption, when we can support you with a state-of-the-art center of excellence?

Please feel free to reach out to us at Course5 Intelligence, and we’d be happy to help you set up your Analytics Center of Excellence. Every business needs customized solutions for maximizing the efficacy of decisions and the efficiency of actions. And we can support your endeavor end-to-end, from aligning with your business objectives and integrating PowerBI for streamlined business intelligence, to helping you maintain and upgrade your framework with changes in the business landscape.

Devendra Desai


Devendra Desai

Devendra has over 18 years of industry experience in Data Analytics, AI and Digital Transformation, with business and technical specialties. He has worked with global...

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