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Definition

center of excellence (CoE)

A center of excellence (CoE) is a team of skilled knowledge workers whose mission is to provide the organization they work for with best practices around a particular area of interest. The concept of creating special-interest groups for thought leadership originated in lean manufacturing.

CoEs are often created when there is a knowledge deficit or skills gap within an organization. For example, a company may form a new center of excellence to manage the adoption and integration of robotic process automation (RPA).

An important goal of a center of excellence is to eliminate inefficiency and help move the organization to the next level of a maturity model. A CoE should include representatives from management, a line of business (LOB) and information technology (IT).

Depending upon the organization and area of interest, a CoE may be ongoing or temporary. When a CoE is ongoing, team members often have other job responsibilities; when the CoE is temporary, team members may be relieved of normal duties for the duration of the CoE. 

Ideally, CoE members are responsible for disseminating knowledge about the center's area of interest and providing employees with support for implementing recommended best practices. In vertical industries where knowledge management is the team's primary responsibility, a CoE may also be known as a competency center or a capability center.

This was last updated in November 2018

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