Armin Cruz describes the difference between a COE and a COP

Circle of Excellence and a Community of Practice

Both a Circle of Excellence (CoE) and a Community of Practice (CoP) have their merits and shortcomings. We would like to contrast the two briefly to provide a high level summary. As we have discussed a CoE is a fairly formal hierarchical structure that many firms in America take full advantage of. A CoE is typically comprised of many different skilled-based job families within a given function. For example, if you are in a customer service CoE the organization will likely consists of:

  • Customer service agents
  • Customer service managers
  • Customer service executives
  • Customer service business support managers
  • Customer service HR business partner

Typically the unit will possess a relatively flat structure, with the aim to break down the silos within a business or organization. The desired business outcome of a CoE is to reduce cycle time, increase quality, and take advantage of shared services within the team and reduces cost.

A CoP on the other hand is an informal collection of skill-based teammates. For instance, within the customer-service CoE there may be a select few that are very process centric. Within the CoE a leader within the organization may form a CoP. The CoP aims to drive a reduction in waste, duplication, and replication while also aiming to generate synergy within other CoEs and CoPs. The CoP created here should meet with other CoPs to further refine the process within other groups and further deconstruct the silo effect within a business environment. The increased focus and visibility will assist the leadership to dismantle non-value add activities. After all, if there is waste within one group it may be a discussion around priority on the budget. However, if two or more have the same issue, one can stand reasonably sure that the customer / consumer / client is experiencing this inefficiency as well. This is the first step to inclusion in an operating budget and annual strategy plan.

Armin Cruz is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt that specializes in LEAN methodologies in the financial transactional industry. Armin Cruz received his MBB while serving as a Vice President at Bank of America’s Process Excellence division. Armin currently serves as Director and Head of Continuous Improvement for a public firm in the financial real estate and property management industry. Armin Cruz earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix, and his BA from the University of Texas at Dallas. Armin Cruz lives in north Texas with his wife, three dogs and is anxiously awaiting his first baby boy in December.

For more information about this topic, please review and follow me on twitter with @arminjcruz, or search About.Me for Armin Cruz. Additionally, I am on SlideShare; please search Slide Share for a presentation titled “4 Steps to Solving Business Problems” by Armin Cruz. You may also reach out to me on my personal website and request more detailed information.