Centers of Excellence: Inspiring Productive Collaboration

April 12, 2017 Appirio

By: Lauren Abriani, Michael Henry & Aruna Kanaujia

“Information is pretty thin stuff unless mixed with experience.” – Clarence Day

Many Centers of Excellence (CoEs) strive to be a reliable hub of information for every member of an organization — from functional delivery and integration teams, to internal sales and marketing gurus. CoEs utilize a pool of talent like the spokes of that hub. Leveraging experience amongst separated groups is the number one benefit of collaboration, and to make the most of the CoE’s influential breadth, communication is key.

Appirio’s Business Analyst CoE underwent a revitalization to increase collaboration and communication in 2016, to design a new, more engaged Appirio community. The CoE created five new segments of thought leadership that ultimately had a tangible effect on business analysts, sales consultants, managers, executives, and everyone else in between. These segments continue to inform us, and we use their lessons within each of our CoEs:

1. Project Spotlights & Roundtables

Two important collaborative platforms in the BA CoE are project spotlights and project roundtables, held at least once each month. These meetings fulfill many functions: They provide an opportunity for attendees to boost their presentation skills and a forum where participants can articulate the experiences and challenges they face on projects. Even more exciting, others feel comfortable relating their own situations after these segments. Learning from others’ experiences is an important benefit of the monthly meetings.

2. Global BA Collaboration Series

The “Global BA Collaboration Series” highlighted the up-and-coming team of Business Analysts from Appirio’s Jaipur office. This three-part series explored the methods and processes for a successful working relationship with a coworker who’s half a world away. The region’s general manager, Manpreet Singh, made an appearance as a guest speaker.

3. Cross-Organization Collaboration

As outlined in the Global BA Collaboration Series, collaboration is not limited by geographical bounds. It is critical during collaboration to expand the scope of communication between sections and branches. Other CoEs, small groups, and internal initiative groups joined the conversation. This particular segment included a presentation for best practices for communication and team-building between BAs, QAs, Developers, Tech Leads, and PMs.

4. “What Would You Do If…?”

Some of the best dialogue and learning occurs when it comes candidly — and often unexpectedly! In early 2016, the CoE experimented with a segment called, “What Would You Do If … ?” During this time, we provided a real or hypothetical scenario to the participants. We then asked the group what they would do if they encountered the situation in real life. Responses to these questions ranged from humorous, to passionate, to bewildered. And the participants discovered a better understanding of one another through the scenarios.

5. Senior Management Team Meeting Series

As a final initiative, the BA CoE wanted to engage Appirio’s senior leadership. There were two consistent themes that members wanted from leadership: recognition for the work they accomplished, and to identify opportunities for advancement. Appirio’s CEO, Chris Barbin expressed his vision for Appirio BAs and how he feels they fit into the organization. Barbin highlighted the contributions BAs have made throughout the history of Appirio. Additionally, former West Region GM, Chael Banks talked about strategic initiatives and utilizing people across roles for complex goals. These presentations were important steps toward a fully satisfied BA CoE.

With the organization expanding globally, each CoE emphasizes the values of continued collaboration and inclusiveness of its members. As the organization moves toward the future, we look forward to an Appirio 2.0, and welcoming the Wipro Cloud Services team to our family. Appirio continues to use the 2016 BA CoE revitalization as a template for strengthening our understanding of one another. No matter the growth, the CoE is confident that openness and candid communication will continue as its cornerstones.

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