In this episode, Hans Eckman helps us to understand how to set up a Community of Practice or Center of Excellence, even in an organization that may be resistant to the idea.


After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • How a CoP or CoE can benefit Business Analysts and the organization
  • Why some organizations may be resistant to the idea of starting a community
  • How to start  a community of practice or center of excellence
  • How to use a story telling approach to convince people of the value of the community

Show Notes

Starting a Business Analysis Community of Practice or Center of Excellence is a great was to develop the skills of all BAs in an organization as well as share good practices and tools for a consistent experience.  However, some organizations can be resistant to the idea.  How do you start a community in an unfriendly environment?

Let’s first be clear on some terms.

Center of Excellence: A CoE is a group of thought leaders and change agents who act as advisors, experts, or facilitators for that practice.  Apply their knowledge to improve a particular role or area in an organization.

Community of Practice: A CoP is a group of people in similar roles or with a similar background to share and exchange information and help better the organization.

If you’re dealing with a small group of people trying to lead and help an organization evolve.  Larger group of people sharing information and good practices.  It’s not an either/or proposition; organizations can use both models at the same time.


Getting Started

It’s much easier to start a Center of Excellence or Community of Practice if you can have an open discussion with the leadership team to get their buy-in and together decide what type of model you need.  Unfortunately, you may not get the organizational support you seek.

One approach that worked for Hans was to operate as an informal group for the betterment of the Business Analyst role.

Then put together a charter to form an official CoP or CoE and meet with appropriate individuals to get approval.  If at that point, you do not get approval, you can continue to meet informally and drive change.

Getting small wins within the group can help build up your credibility and allow people to see the benefit of a group of likeminded individuals all driving towards a goal.

Part of your process for starting a Community of Practice or Center of Excellence may be to start by analyzing your current environment to identify the benefits and challenges would be.  Performing something like a SWOT analysis allows you to apply your BA knowledge and skills to create a community for the betterment of Business Analysts in your organization.

With limited resources and limited authority (before official approval of the CoP or CoE), you’ll need to make sure what you do has a positive impact and rack up some quick wins.  Above all, we need to become advocates for our own role, career, and organization.

In an environment that undervalues the role and contribution of the Business Analyst, Hans recommends a quieter and assumed authority approach.  Helping others to understand the role and develop training that will improve and standardize BA interactions will help others see the value of your group.


Listen to the full episode to hear all of Hans’ examples, tips, and advice for starting a CoP or CoE.



Your Homework

Links mentioned in this episode:

Hans Eckman

Hans Eckman

GVP at SunTrust Bank

Hans Eckman provides linchpin leadership and consulting for rapidly evolving companies, with 19 of his 25+ years’ experience creating workflow & support optimization solutions across diverse industries. Hans rejoined the Innovation Programs team at SunTrust Bank, where he helps develop disruptive programs and products that drive innovation, process improvement, and engagement across the enterprise.  Hans co-founded the SunTrust BA Center of Excellence. His presentations can be viewed at

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