With 16 or more people, the Kinaxis COE supports project teams, consultants deploying the company's RapidResponse tool in the field, and pre-sales teams that use demos, says McGuire. Additionally, the center is responsible for developing best practices within the tool. All of which means that center employees have to have strong technical backgrounds as well as complete familiarity with RapidResponse.
Advice for any company looking to establish a center of excellence? “You need to have people who are very good with change. That’s because they are change agents responsible for rolling out new processes and solutions to the organization. You want to make sure they are good communicators who are flexible and can roll with the punches as they roll out new things to the customer.”
And it goes without saying that you need executive sponsorship not only to set up a COE but to staff it with the right kind of personnel, McGuire says.
A center of excellence should be set up only after a needs assessment has been conducted to see what should be provided to the organization. Then you start small, with a staff of only a few people. How many people in the company need support from the COE? As the user group swells, the center can staff more, especially if the company expands into different regions or establishes more business units. “But you start small, establish your processes, and look at the training you’re providing,” McGuire says.
Customer success is a prime focus of the Kinaxis COE. “We are their advocate internally. We partner with them to develop things like success plans and road maps on how to roll out RapidResponse within their organization. We also bring their innovation back to Kinaxis so we can integrate it into the tool if necessary.”
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