Communities of expertise transformation

Transitioning from “centers” to “communities” is a fundamental shift

Posted by
Arthur Mazor
Damion Tomlinson
, and
Gary Johnsen
on September 06, 2017.

In our last post on communities of expertise (CoEs), we defined Deloitte’s concept of communities of expertise and provided insight into how they differ from the traditional centers of excellence.

Redefining the CoE is an excellent start, but to help maximize impact, we need to determine how these CoEs should behave and interact with the rest of HR and the organization as a whole. This post will examine some of the attributes that should be incorporated into the design of the new-age CoE.

Among the most important functions and characteristics of CoEs are the following:

  1. Furthering business strategy: CoEs need to be laser focused on business strategy and imperatives so they build business-relevant programs and policies. The concept of “fit for purpose” must take into account, not only the overarching organization strategy but also the individual strategies of the various components of that organization—business units, geographies, markets, product lines, and so on.
  2. Creating community and connections across the entire ecosystem: The sense of a broader community and truly collaborative solutions has long been absent within HR ecosystem. The CoE function can take the lead in bringing the power of multiple voices into the conversation. The CoE can form and lead a community of cross-functional people from within and outside of HR to help design and build services. Replacing silos with coordinated, collaborative, specialized communities, shared across internal and external resources that are designed with the enterprise and localized when warranted, is the first critical step in the journey to high-impact CoEs.
  3. Employing design thinking (aka being customer-centric): CoE solutions should be developed from a customer-centric mind-set, elevating the employee experience. It is imperative that CoEs lead the design of solutions that are desirable to the end user, feasible for the organization, and viable to have a business impact.
  4. Managing a portfolio of solutions: Programs and solutions should be designed to consider total enterprise impact, even with segment and market-focused differences. Although the High-Impact HR Operating Model lays the foundation for defining the role of the CoE function in the overarching operating model, it is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution, but a “fit–for-purpose” model. The transformational power of the new High-Impact Model is that it includes both “core services” and “strategic choices,” allowing organizations to leverage the power of standardization while also allowing for appropriate localizations for customer segments. When combined, this framework creates the fit-for-purpose model.
  5. Transitioning a focus on internal resources to internal and external networks: In order to fully exploit the power of the collective intellect and experience that the broader ecosystem has to offer, CoE professionals should perpetually augment their internal capabilities and expertise with supplemental sources (social networks, suppliers, customer intelligence, and integrated research).
  6. Structuring for synergies: To address the “who does what?” challenges created by having multiple CoEs, CoEs need to be grouped logically with a clear definition of accountabilities, such as Talent, Total Rewards, and HR Strategy. This redesigning of CoEs affords an opportunity to develop a more integrated, solution-based, functional HR model. Integrating functions and technologies, being more customer focused, and executing a more design thinking-based model can transition CoEs into dynamic functions capable of better fulfilling the needs of a complex organization. Within this model, there will be different CoE roles that are centrally led and managed, with members dispersed across the globe and business units; there may also be a network of dedicated specialists within a specific HR function that sits within the business with tight ties to the community.
  7. Leveraging technology: CoEs need to use technology to enable virtually connected teams. The technology is available, but underutilized. In order to create a real “community,” CoEs must take advantage of inexpensive and readily available social networks, video conferencing, and other means of providing an accessible global network.
  8. Using big data and analytics: Analysis of data and the derivation of analytics is becoming more prevalent as techniques for mining Big Data improve. It is essential that CoEs avail themselves of this, and increase the use of workforce data to provide real business insights and recommendations for action when designing programs and policies.
  9. Maximizing integration: CoEs need to be configured to maximize integration and end-to-end programs that enhance the employee experience. There is a delicate balance between the need and desire for standardization and the need to create programs and policies that are fit for purpose. It is the responsibility of the CoE to manage that balance, and ensure that all stakeholders are taken into consideration.

The changing business landscape calls for a fundamental shift in that way that CoEs incorporate specific characteristics and attributes to support today’s global enterprise. Our next post will discuss the required shift in roles and services of communities of expertise to drive high impact within and beyond the HR organization.

Arthur Mazor is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the practice leader for HR Strategy & Employee Experience and Global HR Service Delivery. He collaborates with complex, global clients to achieve high business impact with a focus on transforming human capital strategies, programs, and services.
Damion Tomlinson is a senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting LLP, where he focuses on HR Operational Excellence.
Gary Johnsen is a specialist leader with Deloitte Consulting LLP. He helps complex organizations design and deploy innovative HR strategies, operating models, and HR customer experiences along with enabling processes, tools, and capabilities that build the bridge between business and HR.

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