Whilst SIAM itself has become one of those dreaded industry buzz-words, it is climbing to the top of the agenda of CIOs as they seek to maximise value from multi-supplier IT service delivery models. However, there is a lack of clarity over what exactly it involves, and what constitutes a SIAM model. Steve Morgan investigates.
Service Integration and Management (SIAM) involves the co-ordination of people, processes, and tools/technology across multiple service providers, be they internal or external, to manage the delivery of end-to-end service to the consumer. This is typically achieved through the creation of a SIAM function, where some or all of the IT management activities are undertaken.
SIAM is aligned to delivering business, service and end-user outcomes, rather than technology, system or application-focused outcomes, and is therefore dependent upon the ability to consolidate and aggregate data from traditional service towers.
Figure 1 describes where SIAM typically fits into a generic IT operating model. Notably,
- SIAM is a function which can be part of the retained organisation or sourced. We will explore this idea in more detail below.
- The SIAM function will govern the activities of the service providers in the various technology towers at the bottom of the diagram
Background and context
Conceptually, SIAM is not new. IT organisations have been managing multiple service providers in a single eco-system for many years. What is new is the recognition of the SIAM capability as a discrete function. In addition, SIAM offers a greater focus on governance in the following scenarios:
- Managing service provider contracts not just in terms of deliverables applicable to their tower, but with more of an emphasis on business outcomes
- The need to drive collaboration between service providers against a backdrop where suppliers have traditionally been suspicious of signing up to contracts Service management governance for processes and tools in a supplier eco-system.
- The rise in prevalence of SIAM models has been brought about by a number of factors:
- The end of monolithic outsourced deals, signed in the early 2000s and which came up for renewal in 2008 onwards, has brought about the need for revised sourcing strategies, following the general perception that these legacy sourcing arrangements are no longer applicable in today’s IT environment
- A rise in maturity of processes and tooling within the service provider community has led to the development of innovative service propositions
- The step change in the demand for IT to work differently, with more flexibility, more quick to respond to business needs, brought about by cloud, mobile, and social media
- The shift of IT to move closer to the business – IT is no longer the ‘internal service provider’ – IT is the business
- The ever-present emphasis on IT efficiency to drive down overall business costs
- The extensive work undertaken in central government to define SIAM sourcing models, which led to several high-profile central government organisations adopting a SIAM approach to IT Service Delivery and a broader industry awareness of and interest in SIAM.
So, what drives organisations to a SIAM model, and when is it particularly applicable? Typically, SIAM programmes are derived from strategic sourcing activity, involving the re-tendering of one of more service towers. At an even more strategic level, the development of a revised IT operating model may also lead organisations to consider a SIAM approach.
The key drivers which encourage organisations to consider a SIAM model are:
Those organisations emerging from a long-term sourcing deal with a single vendor will be looking to reduce their operational risk, but adopting a model which allows for greater flexibility, and which spreads delivery accountability across multiple service providers.
One of the benefits of the SIAM model is to enable IT organisations to develop a sourcing model which allows service providers to play to their strengths, thereby leveraging a service provider eco-system where each supplier is best-in-class. In theory, this should allow the IT organisation to increase overall efficiency and effectiveness.
- Changes in business demands being placed on IT
The way in which IT operates needs to evolve to meet the ever-changing demands of the business. As business operating models change due to emergence of cloud, mobile, etc, IT must keep pace by developing innovative ways to deliver IT services which meet these demands, and also enable the business to innovate further.
A SIAM model allows an IT organisation to have greater clarity over accountabilities of the SIAM and tower service providers, using a number of levers. Process documentation such as swimlane diagrams, RACI charts, etc, provide a single reference point for delivery accountabilities and responsibilities. Similarly, contractual relationships with external service providers will typically cause the IT organisation to have to describe responsibilities and accountabilities at a far more granular level than they have done in the past, as parties within the eco-system seek to develop accurate service models upon which they will base their own resource, cost and risk management models.
- Service provider flexibility (onboarding/offboarding)
As IT delivery models evolve, there is a growing need to provide a more flexible supplier eco-system which enables organisations to onboard new service providers to support, for example, new infrastructure or application development requirements.
- Introduce competitive tension
As specific transformation and development work packages are developed by the IT organisation, a flexible SIAM model allows organisations to introduce competitive tension between service providers, to ensure that they realise innovative, cost-effective solutions from their suppliers.
- Desire to own and retain intellectual property
One of the major drawbacks of the legacy outsourcing arrangements was that the service providers tended to own the intellectual property (e.g. code, business data, architecture information, etc). This contributed heavily to the inertia in sourcing strategies, as the act of moving to a new sourcing strategy represented a significant operational risk as the new service provider sought to assemble and assimilate vital business artefacts and data. A SIAM model provides the platform for the retained IT organisation to own the intellectual property in, for example, a shared Configuration Management System (CMS) which is accessible by all parties.
The rise in prevalence of SIAM models over the past five years has brought about greater clarity in the types of model which can be deployed to meet SIAM objectives. Each model has its benefits and disadvantages, which are described above.
Whilst the decision to go with a SIAM model will often be driven by the sourcing strategy, key factors to consider are the desired business outcomes that transition to a SIAM model will achieve.
These are summarised below:
- Improved responsiveness to service performance issues outages By defining support models at a granular level, and mapping these to an effective CMS, it becomes easier to assign accountability for the resolution of incidents and problems. Effort is required to achieve this, but there are significant benefits to be unlocked if clarity of the support model is achieved.
- Improved IT reliability By using best-of-breed service providers across IT service towers, it is possible to deliver highly reliable, available IT services. In addition, as new service providers are on-boarded, there are opportunities to transform IT service towers as part of continuous improvement activity.
- Improved responsiveness to changing business needs By assigning service towers accountable for demand management to the SIAM function, it is possible to improve IT project and resource forecasting. In addition, service providers will typically have a greater ability to flex resources more responsively than a retained IT organisation, thereby achieving improved response times to planned and unplanned IT resource requirements. The outcome of these factors is a decrease in time-to-market, which is a critical factor in today’s environment.
- Efficiency Through the implementation of a consistent process model and the exploitation of automation, it is possible to improve efficiency across the SIAM eco-system. It is critical that all service providers operate within a common process framework, and that the retained organisation defines a tooling strategy which is applied rigorously across the SIAM eco-system.
Developing an effective governance strategy
The introduction of a SIAM model can make development of an effective governance strategy extremely complex. An effective governance model will address the following:
- IT service performance
- Service provider performance
- Demand and resource management
- SIAM tooling maintenance and improvement
- Continual service improvement and innovation
- Project delivery
The most complex challenge lies in developing an effective governance timetable for IT service performance and service provider performance. If a service level management approach has been adopted, as described in the ITIL framework, service level agreements with the business will be underpinned by contracts with the relevant suppliers, and will contain measures relating service performance, support and availability. The complexity lies in the alignment of the various reporting and governance forums with report production schedules. There is a risk that production of business-facing service performance reports gets delayed by the delivery of service provider reporting, the content of which will be used in the business-facing reports. This issue can be overcome with careful planning and the use of technology, but it nevertheless remains a complex challenge, which requires careful planning to resolve.
Sourcing strategy for the SIAM function
As described above, there are options over how a SIAM model is delivered, and the most important of these is the question of whether the SIAM function is sourced or retained. Each model has its own merits and drawbacks, and there have been several high-profile examples of successful SIAM implementations which have demonstrated how each model can work. The decision as to which model to adopt should not be taken lightly, and should be decided in the broader context of the IT operating model, sourcing strategy and the over-arching desired business outcomes.
Driving a truly collaborative approach
For a SIAM model to be truly effective, each service provider in the eco-system must be committed to the concept of a collaborative approach. This applies equally to, for example, the day-to-day service management activities of incident, problem and change management, as it does to supplier performance management, reporting and demand management. This can be difficult to achieve given that many IT organisations will have experience of sub-optimal sourcing arrangements which have caused mistrust and dysfunctional relationships with service providers. Many service providers will themselves have cultural and process challenges to overcome as they get to grips with transforming their own organisations to work collaboratively within a SIAM eco-system.
IT organisations often fail to fully understand the implications of a SIAM model on their existing IT tools, in terms of ownership, access and day-to-day use. Primarily the impact is on the IT service management tool, but there are impacts elsewhere on other tools such as monitoring, capacity management and software asset management. A tooling strategy must be developed and supported by an operating model that describes how processes and tools will operate within the proposed SIAM model, prior to embarking upon a SIAM implementation.
In a SIAM model, IT services are likely to delivered by multiple service providers. This introduces the challenge of collating their individual performance and availability data to collate end-to-end service performance. This is almost impossible to do without extensive support from a sophisticated service management tool and must therefore be incorporated into the tooling strategy suggested above.
The implementation of a SIAM model must be considered as part of a broader IT sourcing strategy. The direction set by the sourcing strategy will determine the suitability of adopting a SIAM model, and will need to be subsequently reflected in the creation of Request’s For Proposal (RFPs) to the relevant service providers.
The development of an IT operating model
should be undertaken as a means of describing the processes, organisation and technology to be created. This should also describe the desired ways of working in the future mode of operation, and describe the differences between this and the current working practices.
The differences between Current Mode of Operation (CMO) and Future Mode of Operation (FMO) should then be used to develop a change programme which encompasses:
- Operating model implementation, including organisational and process design
- Cultural change
Phasing the implementation of the SIAM model should be considered carefully, and will preferably link closely to the implementation of the change programme and its constituent parts, as described above.
SIAM trends and future direction
IT is an industry that is never short of a buzz-word, trend or new development we have already witnessed the emergence of cloud and mobile, and IT departments have changed radically to better deliver and support these technologies. DevOps is gaining more prominence, and it is likely that any new IT operating model will incorporate this into its strategy, to ensure a more integrated approach to development and support, particularly in the structure of application towers and their relationship with the SIAM service provider.
Currently, there is no defined industry guidance relating to SIAM. Undoubtedly, existing frameworks such as ITIL will contribute greatly to the service management elements, but SIAM is far broader than merely establishing a service management function.
Meanwhile SIAM, despite attempts to define it, remains enigmatic. Efforts are underway by ITSMF UK’s SIAM Special Interest Group, tasked with defining SIAM more deeply, to arrive at a more generally accepted definition of the various approaches, benefits, implementation options and business outcomes it is likely to achieve (see the following article for a progress report).
Steve Morgan is Director of Syniad IT Solutions. He has over 25 years of experience of working in IT, both in operational and consulting roles. He led the KPMG Service Management team in the UK before leaving to form Syniad IT Solutions Ltd in February 2012.