How a Center of Excellence Helps Better Govern Your MFT User Experience
In this psot, we take a look at the reasons to build a Center of Excellence (CoE) and an appropriate scope of responsibilities for this CoE.
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In my last post, we talked about the benefits of consolidating over dividing for a data flow governance model. This is very important when it comes to technical aspects, but also from an organizational stand point. This is where the notion of a Center of Excellence, or ‘CoE,’ comes into play. In our context, this team will concentrate on how to lead the transformation from “plain Managed File Transfer (MFT)” to a Digital MFT.
With this article, we will discuss the reason to build a Center of Excellence and what is an appropriate scope of responsibilities.
What an MFT Center of Excellence Is and Why You Should Build One
Let’s set the basics straight: according to Wikipedia, “a center of excellence (COE) is a team, a shared facility, or an entity that provides leadership, best practices, research, support, and/or training for a focus area.”
Our focus area is obviously MFT, therefore the naming “MFT CoE” or, as we can see some customers phrase it, “Digital MFT CoE.” I personally like this second naming better and think it makes more sense. Indeed, for as long as MFT has been around, we rarely saw any CoE in charge. At least, according to the definition we will present below. Consequently, adding the prefix “Digital” helps to justify, if need be, the creation of a distinct team. Since something different and innovative is coming to the MFT world – need to move from “plain MFT” to “Digital MFT” – we need a new workforce in place to drive this change.
And since we see that the exact term “Center of Excellence” doesn’t usually receive the best appreciation (see this Linkedin article), I’ll keep using CoE and let you can use the acronym for whatever suits you best: Community of Empowerment, Center of Enablement, etc…
What to Consider as the Digital MFT CoE's Scope of Responsibilities
Based on what we just discussed, a simple answer is “leadership, best practices, research, support, and/or training that relates to the digitalization of the MFT solution.” From the definition and implementation of the new Digital MFT solution and its service catalog to the complete conversion of all legacy connections, up to organizing and performing operation and maintenance duties.
Agreed, this is a very broad scope! And one key lesson learned is that this team shouldn’t for any reason be a bottleneck for the entire process. As its purpose is the rapid adoption of new solutions, it should accelerate the way users consume the service. This means working on initiatives related to the aforementioned topics, while supporting the current state of operations and preparing the transition between models. A lot of coordination and advocacy, in a way…
That being said, let’s focus on what’s really going to differentiate our “Digital MFT CoE” from the standard MFT practices.
1. Control the MFT Service Lifecycle According to Business Requirements
First and foremost, the Digital MFT CoE is responsible for the MFT Services portfolio management. What do we call an “MFT Service”? You can see it as the skeleton of your file transfer configuration. It’s a sort of model, based on which all flow definitions are instantiated and implemented. This template enforces a specific set of technical parameters (related to this model), which simplifies the collection of business context to define a flow configuration. We’ll provide more details and best practices in a future post, so stay tuned!
2. Ensure a Successful Adoption by First Users to Get Buy-In
Once you’re ready to roll out your first sets of improvements, you really want to identify some “pilot users.” You should select them on that basis that they agree to cooperate and be flexible when using those first features. In return, they would benefit from a stronger accompaniment from your Center of Excellence. This support will take the form of an initial enablement session to clearly explain what is going to change. After what, some mentoring (dare I say “hand holding”?) on the first use cases is expected, as well as reactive responses to their questions, issues, and requests to tune features.
This may sound like a lot to organize, but the benefits usually overweight the effort. Successful first users are stronger advocates to other business groups than any IT team can ever be. They have to become your favorite users and you need to address their needs as such. Once they are convinced, you can slowly take off your foot from the gas pedal. The Center of Excellence team can deliver the enablement and support activities around a community of users, using collaborative or learning tools. And move on to your next task!
3. Drive Your Organization Up the Maturity Model
As we mentioned, the reason for building a “Digital MFT CoE” is to lead a technical and organizational transformation around your MFT usage. MFT services can be improved in a lot of different ways, but you can’t chase all fronts at the same time. “Start small and expand” is the leitmotif you want to follow. For that, the Center of Excellence defines a prioritized roadmap of activities, to progressively deliver more value to the business teams. This requires an exhaustive understanding of business requirements and constraints, via an overall analysis of your lines of business. But, also, a good grasp on the corporate strategy to anticipate potential impacts on the technology stack.
This roadmap usually reflects maturity models that MFT vendors use to assess where your organization stands in its digital transformation. And in order to locate yourself in the journey, you may want to define a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPI). They will prove the progressive adoption and provide milestones that pave the way of your transformation roadmap.
What You Can Expect From Your Digital MFT CoE
Ok, now you have a better knowledge about the role and responsibilities of a Digital MFT CoE. But you’re still questioning the benefits that your company will get out of this. Fair enough! Let’s try to list some of the targeted benefits:
- Concentrate effort on a single “corporate solution” allowing for:
- faster Time to Market (TTM) through a predefined portfolio of services and automated implementation capabilities.
- lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) via reusable components and self-service tools.
- Drive operational efficiency with business-friendly solutions surrounding the technical features of your MFT service.
- Anticipate business needs and strategic corporate (technical) decisions so MFT is not perceived as a limiting factor for business innovation.
Are you convinced now? Then let’s pull the trigger! First, start by identifying some potential team members, whether enterprise architect, technology specialist or business analyst. Bring them together to initiate a plan on what would be needed in order to move from “plain MFT” to “Digital MFT.” Congrats, you unofficially kicked off your Digital MFT CoE!
Published at DZone with permission of Brice Flamant, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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