Launching a Successful Integration Strategy: The Role of Center for Enablement (C4E)

Any business with a strong integration strategy needs to have a firm grasp on the technology game. However, as your enterprise grows from a small business to a wide-reaching organization, it will need to deal with a greater and greater number of technology and integration-based projects. Both the IT infrastructure and the business processes result in complexity and fragmentation.

To handle the complexity that comes with a larger enterprise, management often introduces stricter administration and processes to simplify things. But these very rules often end up crippling innovation, creativity, and agility among IT teams.

Instead, businesses need to come up with a way that simplifies processes and management without stifling the tide of innovation. But can you really have an integration strategy that is simple, innovative, and easy to manage?

With a Center for Enablement (C4E), you most certainly can.

What is a C4E?

Centre for Enablement  or C4E is an information technology operating model that allows an enterprise to create reusable assets, collect APIs, leverage best practices and knowledge that enable self-service and efficient delivery in the organization, and quickly execute new solutions.

C4E introduces a continuous delivery framework, instead of treating each IT issue as an independent project. Assets created during one phase become an essential part of every following phase or project.

The C4E operating model is based on 4 foundations: People, Processes, Technology, and Assets.

Center for Enablement (C4E)
PeopleDefined roles, responsibilities, and ownership over the platform
Intrinsically combined and self-service way of working
C4E and API promote assets reusability
ProcessesCreates platform capability and C4E while delivering projects
Balanced deployment approach and continuous improvement
DevOps platform Publishing and harvesting assets
Measuring established KPIs to gauge enablement success
TechnologyTechnology components allow a continuous delivery pipeline and multi-modal development
API-lifecycle management tools
Hybrid deployment enablement
Supports constant feedback & reiterative process
AssetsTemplates and accelerators that result in the efficient realization of integration capabilities
Tangible assets form building blocks that speed up the delivery of new digital capabilities and innovation
Discoverable assets permit self-service and partnership to increase the speed and consistency at which teams deliver new APIs

The C4E is a cross-functional team (generally staffed with members from central IT, adjacent departments, and digital innovation teams) that is responsible for productizing, publishing and harvesting reusable assets with best practices. They boost consumption and collaboration, driving self-reliance while improving results through feedback and KPI metrics.

Centre for Enablement (C4E) is completely different from a traditional Centre of Excellence CoE). It is not a governance vehicle but is an asset-oriented framework with practical instances of API patterns, solution accelerators, and practices. It decentralizes the ownership and delivery of digital assets like APIs, microservices. The C4E’s success is directly measured against the consumption of those assets and how it speeds the delivery of business outcomes. Traditional CoEs feature centralized expertise and knowledge, which results in information being protected and siloed. As a result, CoEs often become bottlenecks that developers and architects need to work around. 

The CoE has more of a governance mindset, while the C4E focuses more on consumption and production. CoE has strict and limited access to IT systems, as well as a centralized and request-based consumption model. On the other hand, C4E is governed through APIs and has self-serve access, and can be consumed through developer models, embedded tools, and data marketplaces.

Complex, document-driven enablement is the hallmark of CoE; meanwhile, C4E offers friendly, community-building enablement with more self-paced training.

Establishing a C4E

There are 6 stages to setting up a C4E in an integration-based enterprise:

Assess the enterprise’s integration capability: You first need to map out your organization’s present integration and API capabilities and the maturity of the business in terms of strategy, organization, governance, architecture, and project delivery.

Build the C4E operating model: If you decide that your organization will adopt the C4E model, you need to assign roles and responsibilities within the C4E, set KPIs for measuring things like developer engagement, productivity, and consumption, etc.

Building and publishing foundational assets: Next, the organization has to build an engagement layer for developers and architects alike. This requires building and establishing a preliminary set of reusable assets, like API fragments, API specs, templates, etc.

Promoting the C4E: At this stage, the main C4E team will need to market C4E across the organization. Passing on the idea of self-service and reusability will then come of use to the business.

Driving use of assets: After a C4E becomes well known across the organization, the C4E team’s next job is to encourage and increase consumption of reusable assets. This can be done by onboarding and allowing project teams to encourage conversation amongst teams and even incentivizing reuse through KPIs.

Measure C4E KPI: Now that the reusable assets are being used in full swing, the core C4E team and gauge the KPI against their metrics and see whether the reuse and access improve business processes, encourages innovations, and reduces complexity.

Advantages of a C4E

  • Briefer delivery cycles, and a faster time to market for your integration projects through reuse and self-service.
  • Decreased project risk and on-time delivery of integration projects.
  • Improved observance of tech and business standards and best practices.
  • Higher quality delivery due to being built on existing templates and APIs, thus reducing the number of errors

Wrapping Up

To achieve true digital transformation, people and processes are as vital as technology. Platforms like MuleSoft and Salesforce were anchored by a strong C4E that helped the companies build themselves up and even revolutionize their services. When implemented in the right way C4E becomes a tool that guides your business through its digital transformation journey.

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