Why Your Team Needs an Automation Center of Excellence

by Joseph Mandros June 27, 2024 | 5 min read

Read the full ebook, The Value of Implementing an Automation Center of Excellence, here.


Automation has been a proven change-maker for business operations for decades. In this era of technology and innovation, its use is geared towards streamlining repetitive tasks, boosting developer productivity, and reducing operational costs. 

With a successful implementation, organizations can reallocate human resources to strategic projects and high-value work, fostering innovation and enhancing market competitiveness. And while these outcomes are a net positive when implemented correctly, automation without a set of standards and execution strategy can lead to complex problems that actually eliminate its value.

To address these challenges, many customers we’ve spoken to started their journey building an Automation Center of Excellence (Automation COE). An Automation COE is a dedicated organizational unit that consults the planning, development, and implementation of automation initiatives to ensure standardization, efficiency, and optimal use of IT resources. 

The Role of an Automation Center of Excellence

An Automation COE is a specialized unit within an organization that guides the planning, development, and execution of automation initiatives. It ensures that automation efforts are standardized, efficient, and aligned with the organization’s IT resources. By defining ownership and processes, an Automation COE orchestrates, implements, and distributes automation strategies across the enterprise.

Without an Automation COE and broader automation strategy, many businesses may struggle  to innovate with speed and scale. A few of these challenges include:

  • Lack of Standardization: Without a centralized entity overseeing automation initiatives, there will likely be inconsistencies in approaches, tools, and methodologies used across different departments or teams. This lack of standardization and expertise across systems and tools puts a burden on almost any user looking to use automation, causing what we call an automation gap
  • Fragmented Investments: Without a centralized approach to automation, different departments or teams may invest in disparate automation solutions that are not aligned with overall business objectives – potentially leading to inefficient use of resources, duplication of efforts, and difficulty in measuring the ROI of automation initiatives.
  • Inconsistent Performance: The absence of standardized processes, tools, and methodologies for automation can result in inconsistent performance across your operations. This inconsistency can lead to suboptimal results, increased maintenance costs, and challenges achieving business objectives.
  • Missed Opportunities for Optimization: A COE provides a platform for sharing best practices, lessons learned, and insights gained from automation initiatives. Without such a mechanism, organizations may miss opportunities to optimize automation processes, streamline workflows, and improve overall efficiency, resulting in lower ROI.
  • Limited Scalability: The lack of a centralized governance structure and standardized approach to automation can hinder scalability. Organizations may struggle to scale automation initiatives across different departments, business units, or regions, leading to limited ROI potential and missed opportunities for cost savings and innovation capacity.

Benefits of Building an Automation COE

A key objective of an Automation COE is to develop a strategy that maximizes the impact of automation projects by driving enterprise-wide efficiency gains beyond immediate needs. It also helps remove siloes that generally create non-standardized pockets of automation distributed throughout technology teams.

The COE also promotes automation as a strategic investment with a strong return. While upfront investment is required, the COE helps groups understand the long-term benefits and value proposition of automation, justifying the necessary allocation of resources to stand it up.

It acts as the thread that ties the entire Enterprise automation strategy together—acknowledging the past, present, and future outlooks of legacy, existing, and future automation. It helps identify opportunities for innovation and prevents teams from reinventing the wheel every time automation is needed within a new business unit in the company. 

An Automation COE delivers significant value, including:

  1. Cost Savings and ROI: It helps measure and maximize the return on investment in automation projects, identifying cost reduction opportunities and ensuring consistent reporting of automation initiatives.
  2. Organizational Efficiency: By implementing self-service IT and establishing best practices, an Automation COE streamlines processes, enhances collaboration, and frees up employees to focus on high-value tasks.
  3. Enhancing Innovation and Agility: The COE aligns automation with the company’s broader innovation ecosystem, facilitating experimentation and maximizing existing capabilities.
  4. Building Automation into Organizational Culture: Promoting automation as a strategic investment, the COE helps integrate it into the organizational culture, creating automation advocates and justifying resource allocation.

Best Practices for Building an Automation COE

To build an effective Automation COE, organizations should:

  1. Identify Automation Opportunities: Conduct process assessments and prioritize projects based on impact and feasibility, using a standardized approach to evaluate candidates.
  2. Select and Integrate Technology: Align the COE’s objectives with the enterprise architecture and standardize technology requirements to prevent issues and facilitate growth.
  3. Leadership and Governance: Balance control and autonomy, appointing leaders to advocate at both the leadership and technical levels, ensuring collaboration across the organization.

We have plenty more recommendations that you can find here in our ebook.

PagerDuty’s Role in Establishing an Automation COE

PagerDuty’s Operations Cloud aids in establishing an Automation COE by offering centralized management for automation initiatives. It provides a platform for standardizing processes and integrating diverse technologies, supporting teams with no-code functionality and tool autonomy. PagerDuty helps define the balance between centralization, governance, and autonomy, shaping a versatile automation strategy tailored to each organization’s needs.

Building an Automation COE is a complex but worthwhile endeavor, bringing significant improvements to technology processes and organizational culture. By addressing challenges, maximizing ROI, and fostering innovation, an Automation COE can propel a company to new heights of efficiency and competitiveness.

For more information on how an Automation COE can benefit your organization, visit our solution page today.