Octo’s Centers of Excellence: Building a Culture of Expertise and Innovation

By James Farley, VP of Enterprise Solutions

Google “government Centers of Excellence” (CoE) and you’ll quickly see that agencies and organizations have invested heavily not just in the concept, but in the application. It makes sense when you understand the philosophy behind a CoE and how it can better an organization, especially one that provides critical services. As a government contracting (GovCon) company, Octo does just that, developing solutions and expanding capabilities for defense, intelligence, health, federal civilian, law enforcement, finance and more.

Center of Excellence – a definition

While a CoE takes on the form and culture of the organization that leads it, they do hold some common attributes. Generally speaking, a CoE is a cross-functional team of people responsible for developing and managing the strategy, governance, and best practices that the rest of the organization can leverage to transform and deliver.

Octo’s CoEs have taken a form of their own, developing specific methods, tools, and accelerators that help our clients with their implementations, while leading Octo in its own emerging technology adoption, migration, and operations. Each CoE focuses on a domain critical to the success of Octo’s Federal Government customers and to Octo. These domains include:

Cloud and Infrastructure – Our CoE certified cloud and infrastructure specialists research and develop paths to apply a tailored approach, ensuring customers receive solutions that seamlessly integrate with workflows to achieve each organization’s unique mission objectives.

Agile and DevSecOps – This CoE works to reduce risk by providing guidance on developing fully automated, on-demand deployments that eliminate waste and optimize legacy workloads with modern architectures. Our team of Full Stack Engineers, Certified Scrum Masters, and Certified Scaled Agilists ensure powerful solutions are customized and made available to all customers.

Artificial Intelligence – Whether it’s through machine learning (ML), deep learning (DL), robotic process automation (RPA), or other AI technology, Octo’s AI CoE experts apply their experience, skills, and domain knowledge to ensure Octo solves each customer’s unique problems.

Emerging Technology – Establish a future focused organization that identifies breakthroughs in business opportunities, stays ahead of the competition, improves its brand and attracts innovators (retention & recruiting).

Data Sciences – This CoE has guided development of data science tools that use predictive analytic algorithms and emerging technology, enabling customers to convert data into actionable intelligence and data-driven decision models.

Cyber – CoE cybersecurity experts ensure customers and Octo stay one step ahead of cyber threats, overseeing cybersecurity strategies based on user challenges and requirements.

Program Management – Organizational and subject matter experts in this CoE identify and direct implementation of Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®), CMMI, and other industry best practices for major technology modernization, development, acquisition, and performance optimization efforts internally and externally.

OctoCX – This CoE governs the direction of our AI-powered products that transform existing intelligence search and discovery capabilities into tools that provide actionable data.

Why a CoE?

Understanding the need for CoEs, Octo developed ours to provide structure, governance, and innovation. By harnessing the integration of the organizational structure with operational efficiencies and proven successes, the CoEs ensure proper allocation of resources, both technical and professional. CoEs provide the means for Octo to:

  • Turn ideas and vision into action and business
    • Fail fast, distribute successes faster
    • Continuously improve products and processes
  • Purposefully focus on best practices and trends
    • Discover new technology
    • Retire aging technology
  • Get a tangible edge to better serve customers
    • Create innovative and lightweight Agile solutions
    • Improve implementation practices and decrease deployment times
  • Provide training and knowledgebase resources to employees and programs
    • Offer an always-available corporate reach-back resource for active programs
    • Provide training and exam prep resources available to all employees

About our CoE team

Octo’s CoE team is a community made up of analysts, data scientists, IT domain practitioners, and other experts who share and help implement ideas our customers can use to solve the intricate problems faced by Federal Government agencies and organizations as they strive to serve and protect the public. Our team of domain and interdisciplinary experts:

  • Engage the organizations and communities they serve
  • Teach others within the Octo family how to utilize the services, technologies, and accelerators
  • Communicate efficiencies and opportunities
  • Invite customers to talk about successful projects as case studies
  • Analyze data and predict trends to grow responsibilities from an organizational and financial perspective
  • Direct specialization of resources enabling proactivity

Externally, team members are part of professional organizations and regularly take part in panels and discussions, leading the conversation in their areas of expertise. Internally, team members establish and oversee:

  • Regular meetings with practitioners
  • Brown Bag educational sessions for the entire company
  • Establishment of Octo’s knowledge library
  • Certification tracks
  • Employee engagement in CoE activities
  • Technical Management Reviews

CoE community members are driven experts in their own right, but they are also evangelists. CoE community members talk about their triumphs — what use cases have worked, how they were executed, and how customers and Octo benefited.

CoEs are led by seasoned Technical Directors familiar with the culture of Octo and our customers. They have first hand knowledge of problems Federal Government agencies face and proven concepts to solve those problems. CoE leads create policy and strategy, performing transformative services that support adoption. Our CoE leaders look at repeatable processes that leverage services, tools, and expertise to support specific needs and problems to help customers and Octo stay ahead of the technology curve.

Octo’s CoE Directors include:

  • Matt Simon, Cloud and Infrastructure
  • Dan Montgomery, Agile and DevSecOps
  • Rob Albritton, Artificial Intelligence
  • Cesar Tavares, Emerging Technology
  • Rahul Ghate, Data Sciences
  • Jason Minto, Cyber
  • Navi Kanwar,  Kevin Farrell,  Victoria Disman,  and Rebecca Kanin, Program Management
  • Jay McNallie, OctoCX

Octo is proud to offer its CoEs as a resource for customers and staff. As we move forward developing the kind of innovative and sophisticated solutions Octo is known for, we continue to grow the members of the CoE community and carry forth with meeting the missions of the agencies and organizations we support. For more information on our CoEs, reach out to James Farley, VP of Enterprise Solutions, at james.farley@octo.us.