When implementing a multisite MES project, creating a Center of Excellence (CoE) is a critical part in enabling the coordination and alignment between MES implementations at all sites. But what exactly is an MES CoE and why is it so important?

What is a CoE?

A CoE carries out fundamental roles in a global MES implementation. It consists of one or more individuals that are experts in a particular functional domain and that represent one or more of the enterprise’s plants. As this organization represents multiple plants, it is important that it either includes people from the various plants or that there are strong communication channels with the plants. It may include a global and plant-level hierarchy, where either different people are involved, or a person takes on different roles.

Who should be included in a CoE?

Depending on the scope of the project and MES baseline, the CoE team may include global quality, planning, ERP integration, equipment integration, and analytics leaders, supported by a technical team and local representatives in each domain of expertise.

It is, however, important to highlight that the owner of the CoE is the MES Customer organization. It is due to the customer that the CoE member definition, and the inclusion of the MES provider and its implementation partners, as supporting organizations.

Bringing multiple sites together and embracing their similarities and differences

Whereas a single-site MES has a clear focus, a multi-site application requires an understanding of the different needs of individual sites and needs to ensure that good change management and control procedures are in place to meet enterprise-wide and individual plant needs. The MES baseline will define common requirements but, in complex manufacturing scenarios, there will almost certainly be the need for variances between sites. The ideal solution is to have a common baseline with multiple site MES types that may apply to one or several facilities.

Due to this aspect, it is of utmost importance to have the sites represented in the CoE organization, beyond the corporate-level stakeholders. The sites will receive the solution and must be sufficiently engaged to avoid any possible reluctance or negative reaction concerning the CoE decisions.

The CoE will define the global MES roadmap and, as the owner of MES baselines, will control change management. This includes evaluating if requirements should be implemented in MES baselines and approving any changes to the global baselines. The team will further coordinate technical implementation, manage priorities between sites, and define the plans for system roll-out. It will be responsible for the management of the MES configuration, including deployments and site versions or dependencies.

Creation of a global Center of Excellence (CoE) for MES enables coordination and alignment between MES implementations at all sites.

The advancing role of the CoE

At the pilot stage, the CoE will support the validation of global requirements, baseline strategies and definition of initial baseline version(s). As the project moves forward, however, the baseline will require further validation and may evolve. It may also require the development of additional baselines to meet different site needs. To ensure local site needs are met, the baseline must contain sufficient flexibility so that the sites will still retain some autonomy in the configuration and utilization of the system.

Multisite approach – Critical Manufacturing recommends tackling the complexity of a multi-site deployment in 3 different stages

Transition process

There is a gradual transition of ownership from the MES supplier to the CoE organization. During the initial phase, the MES supplier is in charge of the pilot project and training the future CoE team members or MES certified partners, for the global rollout of activities. The CoE will shadow the MES vendor implementation to learn about the system and its requirements. The CoE will then slowly assume ownership during the following phase-in stage before finally taking over from the MES vendor in the final stage. At this point the number of experts within the team may increase and the MES provider takes on an advisory role.

Transition to CoE ownership and knowledge transfer. Critical Manufacturing (CM) recommends phasing in the CoE team during the pilot projects and baseline evolution phases, in preparation for future ownership of global roll-outs.

Qualities of the CoE

Alongside technical expertise, the CoE team must provide good communication, coordination, and articulation among themselves and with the local plants. It also needs to be sufficiently agile in addressing individual plant needs in a timely manner. While these are important qualities during the project implementation and deployment stages, the team further needs to ensure ongoing control of the change process and traceability to ensure system integrity is maintained.


Alongside the selection of an MES that is designed for easy multi-site deployment and the ability to embrace technological advancements, continuous process improvement, and both differences and similarities between sites, the CoE is a core element of a successful enterprise-wide MES. While fostering good communication between different sites, it will ensure ongoing coordination, control, maintenance, support, and smooth operation of the MES throughout its life.

All you need to know to succeed in multisite MES program

A multi-site MES roll-out affects multiple stakeholders and processes. We want to share our experience and expertise with you and help you get where you need to be to make your business strong, competitive and resilient for the future. This series of blogs will take you step by step through the challenges and opportunities it offers. It comprises 7 different sections, that will guide you on your journey:

1. Benefits and how to build a business case
2. Challenges of multisite MES implementation projects and how to overcome them
3. Multisite project stages
4. Center of excellence / governance
5. Advantages of an MES template and a standardized approach to roll-out
6. MES architecture for easy multisite deployments

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Containers, devOps and continuous delivery strategies for multi-site MES

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